In Onward: Searching for Life in Iceland’s Frigid Fissures, National Geographic grantee and biology researcher Jónína Ólafsdóttir goes diving in search of tiny arthropods in the underwater volcanic fissures of Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park. She is joined by NatGeo multimedia journalists Spencer Millsap and Dan Stone.
“When I started doing this research, I was amazed that no one had ever done it before,” she said one morning earlier this week as we drove to her favorite dive site. Iceland has a lot of research questions related to biology and geology that have never been answered, let alone even asked. “Iceland is a really great place for a scientist with an explorer’s heart,” she says…
Ecologists are often asked why they might study one particular animal, especially a small one that has little impact on humans. Jónína’s answer goes like this: humanity might never be dependent on microscopic arthropods but understanding how animals work together, how they depend on each other holds lots more clues about an area’s environmental history—and its future. At the top of the world, seeing how species change and adapt may indicate what happens as the climate changes around the world.
Read more about Ólafsdóttir's research at National Geographic, and check out more scuba diving videos in the archives.
In this video from the Monterey Bay Aquarium team, learn about how the intelligent Giant Pacific Octopus grabs, climbs, embraces, explores, tastes, recognizes, and more with its eight arms and around 2,000 suckers.
And if you’re near California’s Monterey Bay in the spring of 2014, be sure to visit the aquarium’s upcoming special exhibition, Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes.
In the archives: this, only smaller, at the National Aquarium, and more amazing cephalopods, including this baby, this baby, and this internet legend.
This Blue Button Jellyfish, or porpita porpita, is not actually a jellyfish. It’s a hydroid made up of individual zooids that float together at the water’s surface and each function differently: some eat, some reproduce, some defend, etc. From Coastal and Coral Culture:
Porpita porpita are hermaphrodites and have two main body structures. The first part is the float which is a round disc like shape and is a golden-brown color. It is typically 1.5 inches wide or less, and has a single mouth underneath the float which is used for both the intake of nutrients and the dispersal of wastes. The second part is the hydroid colony (jellyfish like tentacles) that are bright blue, turquoise or yellow. Each strand is covered in branchlets and end in knobs of stinging calls called nematocysts.
Porpita porpita stings usually do not hurt but can cause skin irritation. They have gaseous bodies which allow them to float on the surface and are propelled by wind and ocean currents.
There are actual jellyfish and other types of marine life in the archives.