Sunday, June 10, 2012


So you've certainly noticed by now that I haven't posted anything in nearly a year. That's probably because I've completely forgotten about these blogs.

I should have posted a note like this earlier, but I kept putting it off. I'm no longer updating the blogs. I won't be even in the foreseeable future.

I will however leave the blogs as they are. The links all still work and the navigation bar on the right side still links between the blogs. It'll be open for however long Blogger keeps it up, and available for you all to read.

I may come back to it. I may not. I did enjoy doing it for a while, but then it started to feel like a second job and drained the fun out of it.

Enjoy yourselves and thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

August 28, 2011 : Ambergris

Ambergris occurs as a biliary secretion of the intestines of the sperm whale and can be found floating upon the sea, or in the sand near the coast. It is also sometimes found in the abdomens of whales. Because the beaks of giant squids have been found embedded within lumps of ambergris, scientists have theorized that the substance is produced by the whale's gastrointestinal tract to ease the passage of hard, sharp objects that the whale might have eaten.

Ambergris is found in lumps of various shapes and sizes, weighing from 15 g (½ oz) to 50 kg (100 pounds) or more. When initially expelled by or removed from the whale, the fatty precursor of ambergris is pale white in color (sometimes streaked with black), soft, with a strong fecal smell. Following months to years of photo-degradation and oxidation in the ocean, this precursor gradually hardens, developing a dark gray or black color, a crusty and waxy texture, and a peculiar odor that is at once sweet, earthy, marine, and animalic. Its smell has been generally described as a vastly richer and smoother version of isopropanol without its stinging harshness.

Ambergris has been mostly known for its use in creating perfume and fragrance much like musk. While perfumes can still be found with ambergris around the world, American perfumers usually avoid it because of legal ambiguities. It was banned from use in many countries in the 1970s, including the United States, because its precursor originates from the sperm whale, which is an endangered species. However, it has been legal since 2005 because of strict monitoring of distributors who ensure that only ambergris that has been naturally washed to shore is sold. Ancient Egyptians burned ambergris as incense, while in modern Egypt ambergris is used for scenting cigarettes. The ancient Chinese called the substance "dragon's spittle fragrance". During the Black Death in Europe, people believed that carrying a ball of ambergris could help prevent them from getting the plague. This was because the fragrance covered the smell of the air which was believed to be the cause of plague.

This substance has also been used historically as a flavouring for food, and some people consider it an aphrodisiac. During the Middle Ages, Europeans used ambergris as a medication for headaches, colds, epilepsy, and other ailments.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

August 21, 2011 : Jellyfish Lake

Jellyfish Lake is a marine lake located on Eil Malk island in Palau. Eil Malk is part of the Rock Islands, a group of small, rocky, mostly uninhabited islands in Palau's Southern Lagoon, between Koror and Peleliu. There are about 70 other marine lakes located throughout the Rock Islands. Jellyfish Lake is one of Palau's most famous dive (snorkeling only) sites. It is notable for the millions of golden jellyfish which migrate horizontally across the lake daily.

Jellyfish Lake is connected to the ocean through fissures and tunnels in the limestone of ancient Miocene reef. However the lake is sufficiently isolated and the conditions are different enough that the diversity of species in the lake is greatly reduced from the nearby lagoon. The golden jellyfish, Mastigias cf. papua etpisoni, and possibly other species in the lake have evolved to be substantially different from their close relatives living in the nearby lagoons.

Snorkeling in Jellyfish Lake is a popular activity for tourists to Palau. Several tour operators in Koror offer trips to the lake. Eil Malk island is approximately a 45 minute boat ride from Koror. The lake is accessed by a short trail from the beach on Eil Malk to the lake.

Although both species of jellyfish living in the lake have stinging cells (nematocytes), they are not in general powerful enough to cause harm to humans. It has been reported that it is possible to notice the stings on sensitive areas like the area around the mouth. The Fish n' Fins tour guide recommended that people with allergies to jellyfish consider wearing protective clothing.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 14, 2011 : Bobtail Squid

Bobtail squid (order Sepiolida) are a group of cephalopods closely related to cuttlefish. Bobtail squid tend to have a rounder mantle than cuttlefish and have no cuttlebone. They have eight suckered arms and two tentacles and are generally quite small (typical male mantle length being between 1 and 8 cm). Sepiolids live in shallow coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean and some parts of the Indian Ocean as well as in shallow waters on the west coast of the Cape Peninsula off South Africa. Like cuttlefish, they can swim by either using the fins on their mantle or by jet propulsion. They are also known as dumpling squid (owing to their rounded mantle) or stubby squid.

Bobtail squid have a symbiotic relationship with bioluminescent bacteria (
Vibrio fischeri), which inhabit a special light organ in the squid's mantle. The bacteria are fed a sugar and amino acid solution by the squid and in return hide the squid's silhouette when viewed from below by matching the amount of light hitting the top of the mantle. The organ contains filters which may alter the wavelength of luminescence closer to that of downwelling moonlight and starlight; a lens with biochemical similarities to the squid's eye to diffuse the bacterial luminescence; and a reflector which directs the light ventrally.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 7, 2011 : Halomonas titanicae

Halomonas titanicae

Scientists at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, collected samples of the R.M.S. Titanic's icicle-like rust formations, called rusticles, in 1991.

Although the formations were teaming with life, nobody had identified the specific microbes on the ship, instead grouping them into broad categories such as bacteria or fungi.

So Henrietta Mann and then graduate student Bhavleen Kaur, now of the Ontario Science Centre, decided to isolate and identify one species of bacteria from the mess of microscopic life-forms.

The one they chose turned out to be a new species, which the pair dubbed Halomonas titanicae. The bacteria is part of a family that had never been seen before in waters as deep as those in which the Titanic sits, about 2.4 miles (3.8 kilometers) below the surface, Kaur said.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Spoke Too Soon

I'll be on hiatus for a few weeks, with good reason. I feel I've earned a break from the blog and most importantly, there's something big coming down the line.

It's obviously been longer than a few weeks, hasn't it?

I apologize for having gone MIA. I've been meaning to return to blogging now for a while, but my heart hasn't been in it. However, I'm looking to return to posting soon.

There's going to be a few changes to the format. I will begin to operate the blog with weekly posts. I will no longer continue Strange Waters as a post-a-day blog. That required too much effort to pull off by myself. There's an even better reason for this, but it would spoil the surprise if I told it here.

Strange Waters will receive new updates soon, and I hope you all continue reading.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Story of Strange Waters

In early April of 2010, I was laid off from work having finished a large project I was specifically brought on to do. There wasn't enough work to keep me around once the project wrapped up, and so the company and I split amicably.

Finding myself unemployed, I took a week off for myself to prepare of another exhausting job search. This time however I knew I needed a side project to keep me occupied during the day, and so I tried my hand at blogging. My first attempt lasted a week, and within the first few days of it my husband questioned the point of that first blog, and I had agreed with him it was pointless. However through our conversations online (long-distance at the moment due to finances) I would start to develop the idea behind a new blog, and so this site was born.

I quickly shuttered that initial blog and started fresh, registering the new blog under the name I Hate The Ocean (hence the URL). The name itself was an outlandish statement that came from these conversations in which we would link each other bizarre images and articles, mostly about animal life.

And so the blog started up and I planned for it to run until I found another job. And so in late August of 2010, I was brought back into the same company as before, but offered full-time employment and new responsibilities, heading up a new service we would be offering to our clients. This left me with the question of what to do with the blog. Should I abandon it, or continue it?

And so a new goal was established – to make a blog post everyday for an entire calendar year. And so the blog would get a facelift with that new goal, and would come to be known as Strange Waters.

And here we are, a little over a year since the first post. I do hope to continue posting on the blog, just not everyday. I hope to settle into a more regular schedule, posting one day a week around the same time every week. I do not plan on doing any more post-a-day blogs in the near future, just because they are so much work to maintain by one person.

And that's the story of Strange Waters. One year done and I've only run into one spammer. Not bad at all.