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A Trip to the La Jolla Tide Pools of San Diego

January 25th, 2009
La Jolla Tidepools at Sunset

La Jolla tide pools at sunset in January 2009. Photo by Dave Oei.

2 year Old Curiosity at the Tide Pool. Photo by Dave Oei.

2 year old curiosity at the tide pool. Photo by Dave Oei.

Nestled along the shores of La Jolla, California lie some of the best tide pools offered in San Diego.  While these can’t compete with the likes of what is found in Monterey Bay, the La Jolla tide pools are no more than a few minutes drive for most San Diegans, and their ease of accessibility makes visiting them well worth the while.  There’s an abundance of wildlife, including starfish, a variety of crustaceans, mollusks, and octopus.  And usually, without trying to hard, you’ll be able to spot seals and dolphins.

Did I mention that it’s gorgeous?

A Clump of Different Colored Starfish in La Jolla.  Photo by Dave Oei.

A clump of different colored starfish in La Jolla. Photo by Dave Oei.

My family and I visited the pools a few weeks ago.  We arrived late in the afternoon when the tides were predicted to be quite low and we found ourselves shedding off the sweaters in the 70 degree weather.  That’s right: 70 degrees, by the beach, in January.  It really does happen in San Diego.

To go tide pooling, you’ll need to see to two pieces of logistics: Planning and Parking.

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Biology, Featured Articles, Travel

Sugar Deal: Great for Everglades, Bad on Pocketbook?

June 24th, 2008

In what’s billed to be the largest land restoration and buyback in US History, Florida is purchasing 187,000 acres from US Sugar Corp which will eventually be rehabilitated to it’s natural Everglades habitat.  Doing so will help mitigate against future flooding and remove the need for some existing dams.  While making for some nice alligator, fish, and great egret homes.  Overall, it’s great news for the ecology of the Everglades and all the wildlife that exist in the region.

But, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.  With corn and corn-related products at an all time high due to soaring food demand and the likes of ethanol, this Everglades deal will no doubt exasperate the corn pricing problem.  You see, US Sugar is currently producing about 10% of our current consumption of sugar.  Which means that either current surgar consumers will have to find other sources of sugar or switch to an alternative.

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Biology

Coaxing HIV Out of Hiding with Clever Engineering

May 8th, 2008

When it comes to combating HIV, doctors and scientists have an arsenal of drugs and regimens to choose from. Unfortunately, none are 100% effective because of the one sinister trait of HIV – it’s ability to hide and lay dormant in T-cells for years or decades.

Which is why flushing HIV out of T-cells has been on the forefront of medical science for years. Through experimentation it’s been shown that two naturally occurring plant compounds, Prostratin and DPP, in combination with other drugs are able to push HIV out of T-cells with about 80% efficacy. Sure, it’s not 100%, but experimentation had been hampered by the availability of these compounds.

They come from scarcely found plants from far away places and produce variable yet meager quantities of these valuable compounds. In other words, they must be extremely expensive and hard to come by.

Fortunately, there are real people out there who actually performed very well in Organic Chemistry. And it is they who come to this story’s rescue.

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Biology, Chemistry, Medicine

There’s Singing in the Brain

May 5th, 2008

Just like babies, juvenile birds babble incessantly and practice their songs before getting it just right.  But how does that transition happen?  Are there two pathways to song (and, possibly speech) development, or just one that matures over time?

The folks at Fee lab at MIT were on the case.

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Biology

Alzheimer’s Reversed in Mice?

May 4th, 2008

The bad guy?  In this case, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate-oxidase, or NADPH for short.  We have it, and so do mice.  For a living, it resides in neutrophils (bacteria/fungi eating white blood cells)  and creates superoxides that destroy foreign pathogens.  That is, unless they go out of wack, in which case they apparently feast on something a bit closer to home: Your brain.

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Biology

May the Biggest Fish Win?

April 17th, 2008

May the Big Fish Win? Only smaller game fish need worry if recent findings on size-targeted fishing from Scripps’ scientists are on the money. They examined the the effects of fishing regulations specifying the throw back of smaller fish on ecological stabilization and species population dynamics.

If you don’t fish, you may not be aware that for many game fish species only those that exceed a certain size may be kept while the remainder are thrown back. For example, in California there is a 10 inch minimum on bocaccio, a type of rockfish. Any smaller and they’re free. Larger ones go in the BBQ.

What the folks at Scripps found was that taking only the larger, and presumably older and mature fish had highly destabilizing effects on fish species populations and the overall area ecology. Thus, they advocate to instead leave behind the older fish as they tend to eat less, help maintain the population pyramid, and produce more viable young.

Sounds good to me since what’s implied is that an overall balanced ecosystem should also improve yields in the long term. For now, we’ll see how long it takes lawmakers to make the change, but don’t expect the fishing lobby to go down without a fight.

Source: Scripps Institute of Oceanography
Photo: Finding Nemo @ Disney

Biology

Scripps to Name New Species After TinySci!

April 10th, 2008

This is an er… er…

Sigh. If only it were true.

Folks over at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego are presenting donors with an opportunity verging on immortality. They (meaning possibly you) can have their name live in perpetuity by making a sizable donation to the Institute, and in return receive naming (and bragging) rights for a number of newly found ultra-cool-looking critters. Read more…

Biology

Ingenious Algae, Al Gore’s Nemesis?

April 9th, 2008

Synechococcus, aka Blue-Green Algae, aka Cyanobacteria It was once believed that this tiny, yet extremely pervasive blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria (specifically, Synechococcus) helped moderate the increase in carbon dioxide emissions as it underwent photosynthesis across the world’s oceans. While generally true, scientists at Stanford and the Carnegie Institution noticed something odd while working with these critters in the lab – the amount of photosynthesis activity measured didn’t match the amount of carbon dioxide being consumed.

Uh oh.

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Biology, Global Science

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