Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Underwater Grossology – Part 2

Last week we began our investigation of all things gross in Life Sciences as a tribute to Pacific Science Center’s current exhibit: Grossology – The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body. Continuing our discussion of underwater grossology this week, we present the ubiquitous sea anemone.

Sea anemones, unlike sea cucumbers, don’t have a mouth at one end and an anus at the other. Instead, food goes in and waste comes out the same orifice after being digested in the gastrovascular cavity. Pacific Science Center’s staff often uses this fact as a hook to start conversations.

However, when you actually watch a sea anemone go through the process it is not particularly messy or gross. The anemone’s digestive enzymes are quite powerful and what little undigested material they eject is usually pretty harmless looking.

What can appear fairly unattractive are anemones at low tide, or during our weekly tide pool “backflush.” Because anemones have no internal structure, they lose their normal posture without the support of water, and either sink or hang from their substrate. You may notice that they collapse their tentacles inward, trapping as much water as they can in their body cavity. The water they retain is important to get them through till the waves return. So please don’t poke anemones at low tide. That would be too gross – and very unkind!

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fresh Sheet – July 4, 2015

Our Tropical Butterfly House just might be cooler than the out-of-doors this week. A total of 617 pupae from Suriname and El Salvador have recently flown into town to emerge for you. Why not stop by and visit a few of your favorite Lepidoptera?

Neotropical Insects NV

05 - Parides sesostris (Emerald-patched Cattleheart)
40 - Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)
05 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
06 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
22 - Heliconius doris (Doris Longwing)
24 - Dryas iulia (Julia Longwing)
70 - Anartia amathea (Scarlet Peacock)
15 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
50 - Eryphanis polyxena (Purple Mort Bleu Owl)
15 - Mechanitis polymnia (Polymnia Tigerwing)
15 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 267

Bioproductores de El Salvador
El Salvador

15 - Anea eurypyle (Pointed Leafwing)
15 - Archeoprepona demophoon (Hubner’s Prepona) [males]
25 - Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
15 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
25 - Eurytides epidaus (Mexican Kite-Swallowtail)
25 - Eurytides thymbraeus (White-crested Swallowtail)
25 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
10 - Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
15 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
10 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
20 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
25 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
10 - Papilio androgeus (Queen Page)
20 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
20 - Papilio garamas (Magnificent Swallowtail)
25 - Papilio torquatus (Band-gapped Swallowtail)
05 - Parides photinus (Queen of Hearts)
20 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona) [males]
25 - Smyrna blomfildia (Blomfeld's Beauty)

Total = 350

Grand Total = 617

“Fresh Sheet” is our weekly shipment report of pupae on display in the emerging window. Visit Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House and meet our newest residents.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Underwater Grossology – Part 1

In celebration of our Grossology exhibit, we present to you some of our tide pool animals. This week we’ll discuss the very popular California sea cucumber (Parastichopus californicus).

Normally a sea cucumber cruising around the shallow water and looking classy in red velvet may seem like the farthest thing from disgusting. But look a little deeper – into its gut, in fact, and you will see plenty of fascinating grossology at work.

First is its ability to eviscerate, a behavior common among sea cucumbers. Under great stress such as from a predator, sea cucumbers are able to eject their guts – not just their gut content but also the actual lining of the digestive system – in the direction of the danger as an emergency form of self-defense. The stringy gut material entangles the predator, slowing or stopping it while the cucumber escapes. If this defense works, the animal can then regrow its gut lining, which is taxing to its body but preferable to being eaten.

Please don’t squeeze sea cucumbers. Defensive eviscerating is a last ditch survival behavior that you don’t want to make them do, and you don’t want that stuff on your hands!

California sea cucumbers also eviscerate on an annual cycle, with the gut breaking down in late autumn and regrowing in winter and early spring. During that time they absorb nutrients through the respiratory trees in their anus. These organs, which normally facilitate oxygen exchange, can apparently also uptake nutrients.

Right now our California sea cucumber is not in its regenerative phase, and is eating with its mouth and using its anus to breathe and to defecate. You can see its cute sandy poops scattered around the tide pool. How gross is that?

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fresh Sheet – June 27, 2015

There will be a rainbow of colors inside and outside our Tropical Butterfly House this weekend. Come by, take pride, and enjoy the diversity of life around us!

Penang Butterfly Farm

70 - Catopsilia scylla (Orange Emigrant)
70 - Cethosia cyane (Leopard Lacewing)
20 - Cethosia hypsea (Malay Lacewing)
20 - Chilasa clytia (Common Mime)
13 - Hypolimnas bolina (Blue moon)
20 - Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
05 - Lexias dirtea (Archduke)
10 - Papilio memnon (Great Memnon)
70 - Parthenos sylvia (The Clipper)
20 - Tirumala septentrionus (Dark Blue Tiger)
30 – Troides helena (Common Birdwing)
47 - Vindula dejone (The Cruiser)

Total = 380

“Fresh Sheet” is our weekly shipment report of pupae on display in the emerging window. Visit Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House and meet our newest residents.

Read more!