Label: Oceans

June 6, 2012

Welcome to our last Writing Wednesday of the school year! Today, we’re going to do a five-minute writing warm-up, with two simple rules:

1.    Give us the best you’ve got in 5 minutes. That’s right - five minutes of creative writing. Think of it as a word extravaganza to warm up your brain for the rest of the day!

2.    Tell us your first name and what state you live in.

  Ready? Let’s go! Today, we would like you to look at the photograph below. Write five strong, colorful words that you think best describe this photograph of a jellyfish that was the "Fan Favorite" in the University of Miami’s underwater photo competition. Your writing could be serious, or it could be funny. Either approach is fine, as long as what you write makes the reader want to know more! Write your 5 descriptive words and submit them by clicking on the "Comments" below. Happy writing!

Photo: Todd Aki

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(10) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Oceans   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 14, 2012

I have been working on a new book called SEYMOUR SIMON’S EXTREME OCEANS. In the chapter called "Big Waves and Giant Tides" I write about places along the coasts of Hawaii, California and Australia where huge waves are regularly whipped up by strong winds blowing at sea.

One of those places is Nazare, off the coast of Portugal. Recently, a 44-year-old Hawaiian surfer broke the world record for riding the biggest wave ever recorded. Garrett McNamara, who started surfing when he was 11 years old, successfully surfed a 78-foot (23.8 meter) wave. His ride beat the previous 2008 record by more than a foot, and is now in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Click on the "play" button below to see this awesome ride on a magnificent wave!


I think I might take a shot at the record. What do you think? Can I make it into the Guinness Book of World Records as a surfer?!













Video © Billabong XXL, courtesy

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Oceans   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 3, 2012


Brazilian scientists have been studying a small fishing community in Laguna, Brazil, where fishermen work together with dolphins to catch their fish.

This friendly pod of dolphins works together, herding groups of mullet (a local fish) toward the fisherman who are waiting in boats or standing in the water. Then the dolphins slap their heads or tails on the water to show the fishermen where to throw their nets.  Both groups, the fishermen and the dolphins, catch all the fish they need by working together in this way.

What is most surprising is that It is one special group of about twenty dolphins that work with the fishermen, and they have been doing it for more than fifteen years. The men recognize them by their markings, and have even given some of them names like "Scooby" and "Caroba." There are plenty of other dolphins in the waters around Laguna. The others do not cooperate with humans, going off to fish on their own.

The cooperation behavior is probably passed down from mother dolphin to her calves, and that is how it is learned by the humans, as well. Elders in the community teach the younger fishermen how to work with the dolphins.


Photo:  Fábio Daura-Jorge

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Oceans, Dolphins, Fish   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 2, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every week there is a new opportunity to publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog.

This week, we are asking you to describe the scene in this photograph, using what you know or what you can learn about life on Coral Reefs.

The Facts: The fish in this photograph are Yellownose gobies, and one is peeking out from its hiding spot inside the folds of a brain coral.  

Your assignment: Write a paragraph explaining the relationship between the animals. Which one needs the other to provide camouflage? What predators is it being protected from?

How to make your writing powerful: Coral reefs are like underwater cities, teeming with life. Use descriptive details to make this ocean world come alive for your reader.


When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing.


Photo: Todd Minthz

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Coral Reefs, Oceans, Fish   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 26, 2012

Many of my readers were interested in yesterday’s "Writing Wednesday" story about the soccer ball belonging to a Japanese student that washed up on an Alaskan island more than a year after the big tsunami.

This is a photograph of Misaki Murakami, the teenager whose ball traveled nearly 3,500 miles (5,600 km) across the Pacific Ocean, from Rikuzentakata, Japan to Middleton Island, in Alaska.

In fact, it is not surprising that the ball showed up on the U.S. coastline - scientists expect that we will see even more debris in the coming weeks and months.


The reason is that when water rises or falls very quickly, it often creates a whirlpool. Think about what happens in the bathtub when you pull the plug and water starts emptying quickly out of the tub - you see a spinning whirlpool above the drain. This is what happens, on a much bigger scale, when a huge tsunami wave rushes in, and then pulls back from the shoreline.


This is a photograph, taken from a helicopter, of one of the massive whirlpools that appeared off the Japanese coast in March, 2011 after the 6.9 earthquake and tsunami. The water was rotating clockwise, which means it was pushing debris away from the coastline, into the Pacific Ocean, and toward the U.S. coast.





And that explains why Misaki’s soccer ball washed up on a beach in Alaska.


Seymour Simon’s new book, EXTREME EARTH RECORDS, is full of information and photographs about the biggest tsunamis, earthquakes, and many more Earth record breakers. It will be available in September, 2012.




Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Earthquakes, Oceans   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 25, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every week there is a new opportunity to publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog. This week, we are asking you to read a science news story about a long-lost soccer ball, and then answer a question about that story.

The Facts:

  It is a good thing that Misaki Murakami’s name was on his soccer ball. He thought it was lost in last year’s tsunami in Japan, but it was returned to him after it washed up on an island in Alaska last weekend.

15-year-old Misaki Murakami was home when the tsunami struck Japan in March 2011, and he grabbed his pet dog and ran to safety on higher ground. His family lost everything, including their house, and have been living in temporary housing ever since. 

Misaki and his family members have been looking for their belongings, but the soccer ball is the first thing that has been found. His name and the name of his school were written on the ball with a Sharpie because this was not just any old soccer ball. It was a goodbye gift from his teacher and classmates when he had to change schools seven years ago. He has kept it next to his bed ever since.

Your Assignment: Once you have read and understood the story above, answer this question. Why was it so surprising that Misaki got his soccer ball back, and why was it important to him? Click "comments" below to write your answer.


Photo: NOAA - Jiji Press / AFP

Educators: Today’s Writing Wednesday is designed to use in support of CCSS Anchor Standard W.8: Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(16) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, science news, Writing Wednesday, Earthquakes, Oceans   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 24, 2012


Scientists studying Orcas in the seas off eastern Russia have spotted an all-white killer whale, and have named him "Iceberg." 

Baby white orcas have been spotted in the past, including in Iceberg’s pod, but no one has ever seen one that grew to adulthood. Iceberg was photographed while he was swimming with 12 members of his pod off Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.

"In many ways, Iceberg is a symbol of all that is pure, wild and extraordinarily exciting about what is out there in the ocean waiting to be discovered," said Erich Hoyt, co-director of the Far East Russia Orca Project. "The challenge is to keep the ocean healthy so that such surprises are always possible."


Photo: E. Lazareva/FEROP via AFP 


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(13) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Oceans, Cool Photo, Conservation, Exploration, Marine Life, whales   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 17, 2012

When we celebrate Earth Day, we are also recognizing the beauty of the plants and animals that share our planet with us.

  This tiny creature (less than 3 inches/80 mm long) is known as the Sea Butterfly (Clione). It was photographed swimming in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea, underneath the Arctic ice. Isn’t it magnificent?

Students often ask me how I get all my photographs of big, dangerous animals.

Sometimes, it is just as tricky to get a photo of a tiny, harmless animal like this one. The photographer who shot this was a scientist exploring life in the ocean deep, and she (wearing a wet suit to keep her warm) was also swimming in the frigid waters underneath the Arctic ice pack ice. Brrrrrrrrrrr! 


Photo: Elisabeth Calvert/NOAA


Take a digital photo showing an Earth treasure around your school or home that makes you appreciate our planet. Click on Send Us Photos/Video (in the yellow bar at the top of every page) and follow the instructions to upload it to the website. We will publish your Earth Day photos and videos on Seymour’s blog, and each person or class that uploads a photo will be entered into the drawing to win a personally autographed book from Seymour Simon!



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(7) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Oceans, Cool Photo, Earth Day 2012   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 28, 2012

Welcome to WRITING WEDNESDAY! Every week there is a new opportunity to publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog. This week, we are asking you to contrast two different kinds of science news stories - a firsthand account, and a secondhand account.


The Facts: This week’s big science news story is about James Cameron, the film director who directed both "Titanic" and "Avatar." On Monday, Cameron used a specially designed submarine to dive alone to the deepest place on Earth. The place is known as the Challenger Deep, off the coast of the Pacific island of Guam, and it is almost impossible to imagine how deep it really is. The Challenger Deep is 120 times deeper than the Grand Canyon and more than a mile deeper than the tallest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest, is tall.

Only two other people have ever made this dive. In 1960, Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Capt. Don Walsh descended to the bottom in a bathyscape (a deep-sea diving craft) called the Trieste.

Read these descriptions of the two events. The first one is a firsthand account - which means that the story is being told by the person who was actually there. The second is a secondhand account - a story that is retold by someone who was not there, but has heard it from someone else.

Firsthand Account (James Cameron writing on Twitter): "Just arrived at the ocean’s deepest point. Hitting bottom never felt so good. Can’t wait to share what I’m seeing with you." 

Secondhand Account (U.S. Navy website):  "Only two people have ever been to the deepest part of the world ocean, and Dr. Don Walsh is one of them. In 1960 Walsh, along with Swiss inventor Jacques Piccard, piloted the U.S. Navy’s bathyscaph Trieste to a spot at the bottom of the Marianas Trench known as the Challenger Deep. Inside Trieste’s seven-foot diameter cabin and with more than 16,000 pounds per square inch pressure outside, Walsh relied on the knowledge and skills of the ocean engineers and marine technicians who built the craft and supported its operation."

Your Assignment: Tell us about the differences between the firsthand account and the secondhand account. Contrast and compare the two stories by telling us about the main focus of each. How is the information you got from each of them alike? How is it different?

When you are ready, click "comments" below and write about the differences and similarities between these two accounts.

Happy writing! 

Photo: Mark Thiessen / National Geographic

Educators: Today’s Writing Wednesday is designed to use in support of CCSS Anchor Standard RI.6: Compare and contrast a firsthand and secondhand account of the same event of topic; describe the differences in focus and the information provided.

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(19) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, science news, Writing Wednesday, Oceans, CompareContrast   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 31, 2012

Have you ever seen a living creature that looks like this? This animal, captured and studied by scientists on an oceanlab in the Mid Atlantic Ocean, is a member of a recently discovered family of acorn worms (Torquaratoridae). 

Deep Sea Acorn Worms are delicate animals that have no eyes and no tail. They crawl along the ocean floor, leaving a spiral-shaped trail behind, burrowing into the sediment to find food that has fallen from the surface. Creatures like these used to be thought of as evolutionary "leftovers," because they failed to evolve and develop tails and become competent swimmers, like fish. It turns out, though, that they have evolved in just the right way to live in the distant depths of the ocean. We are discovering that acorn worms are some of the most common animals that live in the deep sea, alongside sea cucumbers, sea stars, shellfish and other fish. They have even been seen making a kind of swimming movement, lifting themselves off the ocean floor so that they can drift into areas where food is more plentiful.


Photo: David Shale

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Oceans, Cool Photo, Marine Life   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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