Otter Aquarist

searats01.jpg
Congratulations to my favorite older sister (not to be confused with my favorite younger sister or favorite older brother) on achieving your goal.
I expect you to know everything about otters by the end of this year, and yes, there will be a test.
Here is the first challenge. Name all four of the otters pictured here.

The Golden Mahi mahi

golden_dorado.JPG
This Coryphaena “showing a helmet” hippurus “horse tail” shows us that dorado means “gilded” in Spanish. According to one source, the mahi converts about 90% of its food into body weight, and can reach a length of 6.75 feet (and weigh almost 90lbs).
Apparently, they can reach 28 inches in six months and maintain a fast growth rate for the duration of their short lives. A really old dolphinfish might live to be 5 years old, but “current wisdom is that they live for a maximum of 4 years”.
On a side note, I am truly baffled at how many people I hear ask “What’s that fish that looks like a dolphin?”. I know of no dolphin that has a blunt forehead and tapered body like the Mahi mahi. Their shape does remind me of a Sperm whale, though.
golden_dorado2.JPG

Wherever they are common, dolphinfish are also a major commercial fish. In many locations around the world, dolphinfish are attracted to bundles of bamboo or cork planks, then encercled with nets. (Examples are the Shiira-zuke fishery of Japan, the Kannizzali fishery of Malta and the Matas fishery of the Balearic Island).

(from Probably More Than You Want To Know About The Fishes Of The Pacific Coast)
Besides being delicious, mahi mahis put up a great fight if you hook them, oftentimes jumping out of the water and “spitting the hook”. Apparently, they’re not that bright. One of my old roommates, Brian, used to tell me of how he caught them by improvising an inside-out Fritos bag as a lure.
golden_dorado3.JPG
Though mahis will flash different colors when excited, they generally don’t maintain this coloration for a long time. Hormones cause these color changes, which you will generally see when they are feeding, mating, or excited.
The color flashes of an excited dolphin fish are truly wonderful, but are short-lived like fireworks. When someone brings one of these home from a fishing trip, they usually mention how colorful they remember the fish being when it was brought on deck, and how colorless it looks after it dies.

Restaraunt Review: The Grand Buffet

I haven’t reviewed food in a while, but one visit to the Grand Buffet in Seaside, California, gave my gastronomic system such problems that I must issue a word of warning.
It all started after a game of disc golf at CSUMB, when we were trying to decide on a place to have dinner. I had always passed by the Grand Buffet, but had never gotten around to trying it.
The place was pretty packed, on Labor Day, with all sorts of people, and a huge spread at the buffet. The variety, as well as the soft serve machine and chocolate fountain initially impressed me.
The food was not very good, but it wasn’t awful. They had a strange variety that included Italian (pasta, pizza, garlic bread), Mexican (menudo! at a Chinese Buffet!!!), Japanese (the sushi was squeezed so hard that the rice looked like mochi), and a ton of Panda Express-style Chinese food.
I picked out a bunch of chicken and pork dishes, with some vegetables, and visited the buffet twice. It was there that I had the foulest hot and sour soup I have ever tasted. Bile, chinese herbs, and burnt something is what it tasted like.
The food was so greasy that I didn’t have the desire to try dessert. Dessert, ironically, was probably the safest option at this place.
My stomach let its voice be heard by converting this meal and all following food and beverages for the next 28 hours being converted into diarrhea. This was irksome for many reasons. I was limited in what I could do and where I could go for a day, the toilet required constant cleaning, and I couldn’t even use baby wipes without wincing.
I don’t want anyone to go through this, so I am advising you to stay away from the Grand Buffet for your own safety. Learn from my mistakes, so that I did not eat there in vain!
Hopefully, future reviews will focus on places that serve food that don’t give you explosive diarrhea. Ah, it’s my own damned fault. Never eat at a Chinese restaurant that serves menudo!

Polychaete Worm

polymag.JPG
This is a polychaete worm that I found on a piece of drift kelp magnified at x50. Little beasties look a lot meaner under the microscope.
It’s nice to have a mini-lab on board when you’re looking at marine organisms.