Fish Tacos - Miami Style

For me, there is no more iconic Miami recipe than fish tacos. But not just any recipe.

 Iconic and simple, with a slice of introduced fish species

Iconic and simple, with a slice of introduced fish species

Imported from Mexico, where this dish has been consumed by Baja California People for hundreds of years, it takes in South Florida an environmental dimension. In addition to adding sour cream, a mixture of avocado, lettuce and tomato, a little grated cheese and hot pepper sauce to the flour tortilla, be sure to add some fresh fried fish.

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The local touch is to choose fish from the Everglades, among the introduced fish species. The best choice ? the cichlids.

Black acara, spotted tilapia, oscar, jaguar guapote, blue tilapia, mayan cichlid, butterfly peacock, midas cichlid, you name it. All these species are non-native, introduced by men for food production or aquarium trade. They make nice tasty fillets and are easy to catch. Plus, it regulates their populations in the Everglades.

So, what are we having for lunch?       Fish Tacos!

 All these introduced cichlid species are fun to catch in South Florida

All these introduced cichlid species are fun to catch in South Florida

The charm lure

During my many years of fishing, I have never had a fetish lure. At most, some preferences for mythical artificial baits like the famous Rapala redhead for seabass trolling on the French Atlantic coast, or the Rasta color popper for big Polynesian jacks. These lures brought me a few catches from time to time, but have never demonstrated an unfailing efficiency.

But today I can say that I found a fish magnet in the form of a small sardine-colored jig: 1 1/16 oz and 3 5/32 in of lead equipped with a triple hook. Simplicity to any test.

I used it to throw from the shore as well as jigging from a boat 5 times since its purchase a couple of weeks ago. Results: 2 king mackerel, 3 almaco jacks, 4 bonitos, 3 tilefish, 1 red grouper, 3 mangrove snappers, 1 jack crevalle, 5 porgies, 1 triggerfish, 7 blue runners and counting.

It seems that this little lure has something universal, because it works by any type of weather, at all depths, with a multitude of different actions and it can catch a very wide variety of species.

Of course, after a short use the poor jig shows already some signs of age and bears the attack marks from small to large predators of Florida waters. But it is still as effective as the a new one and its efficiency far surpasses all the hard baits I have possessed.

Now, my only fear is to lose this little jewel during a future fishing trip ...

 My best jigging / casting lure ever!

My best jigging / casting lure ever!

Jack's Future

On April 19 around 10:00 AM and for about 40 minutes, a huge school of big Jack Crevalle was doing a beautiful dance in the shallow waters of North Biscayne Bay.

The spawning ball appeared out of the blue on a sunny day, and after a long and cold South Florida winter. The resource is well renewed.

 School of big Jack Crevalle spawning in North Biscayne Bay

School of big Jack Crevalle spawning in North Biscayne Bay

Artistic Seashell Photography

This is some pictures of beautiful seashells from French Atlantic Coast, that were part of an exhibition in the last inhabited lighthouse in France: Cordouan.

Enjoy.

Watercolor Coneshell Illustration

A step by step tutorial

This little post was first published in Xenophora, the bulletin of the French conchological Association, and is dedicated to all those who still like seashells illustration.

Photography and the development of digital tools give us beautiful, sharp pictures that are faithful to reality. But the quest for mimesis lacks expression and soul, and it is sometimes important to bring to the scientific images a personal artistic claw. I like to represent the shells my own way.

Here are some very personal advice which I hope will inspire some to take their brushes and colors.

Let's talk about it: do not overload yourself with too much supplies, painting a shell in watercolor on a small paper does not require much. A soft pear-shaped brush (type marten or small gray) in sizes 8 to 12, and a straight brush a little harder (beef hair) size 0 or 00 should do the work. Choose a thick watercolor paper, smooth enough to allow making the details. For colors (purists will probably be angry) all water-thinnable paints can be used: watercolor, gouache, acrylic. If you are starting out, do not hesitate to train with the gouaches sold by 12 in supermarket, you will go to fine watercolor later. For the sketches, choose a dry pencil (type HB or more), a clean white gum and a kneaded eraser to blend the too heavy lines. Finally, a small glass of water (think of changing the water often, it is one of the secrets of the bright colors), some paper towels and a white palette (a plastic plate is perfect).

The steps showed here are indicative and you can operate in another order if you always follows the only rule: clearer and more diluted colors are always put first.

Standing Cone Shell

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  • Step 1: Frame

In two dimensions, the cone is schematized by two triangles having a common base, their opposite vertices passing through the axis of the shell. This "frame" is useful for drawing the curves and inclination of the spirals.

  • Step 2: Contours

Once the structure is in place, the frame is erased and the curves are corrected to obtain a fine and continuous contour. At this step, observation is more important than mathematical rigor. Do not try to get a symmetry that would not appear natural.

  • Step 3: Shadows

The inside of the contour is slightly wetted with a brush, then the shadows are accentuated by passing a black or gray. Working on wet paper (soft brush to spare the paper fibers) makes possible to obtain continuous gradations.

  • Step 4: Patterns

The zones with different patterns can be marked with a pencil in step 2. On a very dry paper, the pseudo triangles are drawn on a white background using a very thin and medium soft brush.

  • Step 5: Background

A light yellow is passed over the free zones in step 4. The orange is put in fine layers. The irregular superposition of these layers on the yellow creates transparency effects. The brown lines are drawn at the end.

  • Step 6: Lights

If you want to give your shell a little more expression, you can add reflections using white gouache on dry paper.

Lying Cone Shell

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  • Step 1:

The cone, from this angle, undergoes the effects of perspective. A spiral in plan is inscribed in a circle. In perspective, the circle becomes elliptical, and the spiral follows the lines of the concentric ellipses. To form the spire correctly, first draw the entire spiral, then erase the curves hidden by the viewing angle.

  • Step 2:

The perspective overwrites the shapes, which has the effect of widening the base of the spire and reducing the length of the last lap. Curves are also accentuated. Place the model in the desired position and draw what you see from your point of view, not the idea you have of the shell.

  • Step 3:

Once everything is dry, the light yellow can be passed over the pattern-free zones. Drawings based on triangles can be sketched to avoid errors in the placement of shapes due to perspective.

  • Step 4:

The patterns are drawn on dry paper, gradually diluting the pigments from the coil to the base. The color, less and less sharp towards the base of the cone, creates an optical effect of distance. Do not forget that patterns become denser with distance: the lines become thinner and the triangles smaller.

  • Step 5:

The orange zones are made by superimposing layers, always from the lightest to the darkest to maintain the transparency of the colors. For a more realistic effect, wait for the brown lines to dry, then slightly dilute their edges with a wet brush.

  • Step 6:

If you want to give your shell a little more expression, you can add reflections using white gouache on dry paper.

Living on the edge of Hurricane Irma

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2017

The night was short. The wind strengthened around 5:00 am and the sound of gusts through the joints of the windows became very strong. We kept water and electricity all night, but the outage came at 7 o'clock. Moreover, the alarm messages arrived at the same time: tornado warning for the building and elevators out of use, text messages from the county telling us to take shelter.

 Last satellite image of hurricane Irma before power surge

Last satellite image of hurricane Irma before power surge

Now we switch to survival mode. The heat starts rising. We are now on water reserves to drink and wash, on ice reserves to keep the food cool some time. Not one animal outside. Waves form and strike the breakwaters, flooding the first row of houses by the bay. And it's only low tide. Irma has regained strength in Cuban warm waters and returns to category 4 to hit the Lower Keys. We do not see Downtown, nor North Bay Village or Miami Beach for that matter. From our North Miami observatory, visibility extends for a few hundred yards at most.

Around 1:00 pm, at the height of a coefficient 89 tide, the pontoons of the marinas are submerged, the docks begin to break. Two boats sink under our eyes and the parking lot disappears under the muddy water. The waves reach 4 feet inside the bay and now smash on the facades of the houses. With a 120 mph wind, the sprays fly over hundreds of feet inland. Between the buildings, the wind accelerates and breaks the branches. The palm trees are decapitated at mid-height, the pines lie down. Saltwater comes on the parkings, the swimming pools, the lawns and gradually flood the cars. The gusts make the water surface white and the rain comes to strike the windows in a thunderous thud. The water also passes under the bay windows, pushed by a powerful and continuous stream of air. The rail on the ground is flooded and the water bubbles while entering the apartment. Near the elevators, the whistling is almost unbearable.

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At 2:00 pm, the eye of the hurricane passes Naples. In a few hours, the wind and rain will begin to calm down. Reflexes die hard: you open a tap to wash your hands, you touch the switch when entering a room... Seeing the situation outside and the County's priorities, FPL will not touch our power line for quite a while. The phone network is still operational, although it's weakened. It's 82 degrees in the apartment. We play, we paint, we eat, we do crafts, we read. The deafening sound of wind and rain on impact windows never ceases. At least we do not live by candlelight during the day.

 The waves, the rain and the wind against North Miami bay shores

The waves, the rain and the wind against North Miami bay shores

3:30 pm. First time we have been really afraid since the beginning of the storm: the concrete dam that protects the Jockey Club from the bay has just broke. The waves propel blocks of concrete and enormous clods of ground 5 feet in the air. In 20 minutes, almost 10 meters of ground were swallowed up by the bay. My favorite palm tree, which rises here, has already lost three quarters of its leaves but remains solid in the wind. At each wave, the sea digs a little more around it, until only a tiny island remains with my palm tree in the middle. I hope he will stand up.

Some of our neighbors found protection in the stairwell. They pile up their mattresses, their most precious things and food. Each stair is a small makeshift house where people reassure themselves like homeless. After the fright of the land collapsing, we took down the 20 floors to find ourselves blocked on the lobby: the 130 mph rainy gusts prevent any escape. We're stuck here.

It seems that every time we think it calms down, an even stronger gust makes the windows shake. Sometimes we feel the building wobble a few inches. With the wind pressure, it is impossible to open the windows. At 5:43 pm, my palm tree collapsed. It has delivered a courageous battle, remaining erected longer than the concrete. We begin to feel the lull. The moisture is still very high, the tissues are moist, the pages of the books curl.

 My palm tree before, during, after the deadly storm

My palm tree before, during, after the deadly storm

The Aftermath

In the morning, a breeze from the west and a warm sun make the atmosphere soft and sad. We asses the damages: lying trees, flooded parkings, torn shutters, destroyed parapets and docks, sunken boats. And we only wiped a tropical storm, as the hurricane hit further west. Irma landed the coast of Florida in Marco Island and Naples. There it must be the apocalypse. We are among the secondary victims. We are lucky and have no complaints to make.

People wander the streets. Some are already working to clean everything up, others are doing disaster-tourism, others are lining up in front of closed shops. At the foot of leafless trees, haggard squirrels are in shock, while disillusioned iguanas warm up at the first rays of sun. The seabirds have resumed their flights: seagulls, cormorants and anhingas are feeding on dead fish. On Biscayne and the 79th Causeway the sirens of firetrucks, ambulances and police alarms keep ringing. Tonight, the city vibrates by the flashing lights of emergency vehicles and falls asleep by the purring of power generators.

Tuesday, 12 September, 7.30 am. Still no running water or power. The toilets begin to smell, so we spit out the mouthwash on it to make it better. We recovered some of the rainwater that came into the apartment during the storm, but flushes consume a lot. Our drinking water supplies are still good. This morning, we transfer all the remaining ice from the freezer to the refrigerator to keep the food fresh. The bay is totally smooth. Not a breath of wind and a cloudless sky. Manatees swim slowly between boards and floating debris. We use laptop batteries to recharge cellphones.

First drive out. The brake discs rusted with salty sprays and braking makes a scary noise. On Biscayne Blvd, there is no traffic lights and the police is on the biggest crossroads. We offer a bottle of water to a homeless person who is filtering out stagnant water through a sock. The poor man begged us to take refuge in an atomic shelter further north, by taking the left lane... Aftershock thought. Most shops are still closed, gas pumps empty and packed in plastic. At Home Depot, people line up through the entire length of the parking lot. At Costco, there are few things left: beers, a lot of frozen products and some fruits. For meat, only chicken is left. The traffic is very dense, most streets are strewn with branches. Back in our building, we still have to climb nearly 300 steps (291 exactly) to return to our apartment where it is 85 degrees. On the balcony, a very light southwest wind gives us a feeling of holidays.

At 4:30 pm, electricity returns, soon followed by the water. Tonight, the apartment will begin to dry.

Now the storm has passed. Close.

Waiting for Irma by the Bay

It's been so long...

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This is the warning map for South Florida on the first NOAA bulletin on Saturday 9 at 8:00 AM.The eye of the hurricane trajectory don't pass through Miami but goes up straight to the Gulf Coast. I wonder how the shell beaches of Sanibel and Captiva would look like after the storm. It will surely be the right moment to find some Volutes (Scaphella junonia) and other shells rarely seen on the coast. Collectors must be ready.

 North Miami facing the first winds

North Miami facing the first winds

The first victim of the wind in our home is a large sea-raisin tree cut in two. At that moment pelicans, gulls, terns, jackdaws and parakeets were already hidden in the trees most sheltered from the northeast wind. The squirrels had taken their precautions a few hours earlier. At high tide (11:15 AM), with a coefficient of 91, the houses on the edge of the bay were already taking a few waves. At around 3:00 pm, when the gusts of wind reached 45 mph (72 km/h), the frigates disappeared from the sky and the palm trees began to lose their palms. Now the gusts are close to 50 mph (80 km/h). Irma has slow down to Category 3 hurricane and the trajectory has traveled steeply westward. The waters of the bay have taken a more opaque and dull green color than usual, and the sargassum accumulate under the influence of the wind.

Preparing for Irma by the Bay

Now begins the live experience of a Cat 4 hurricane.

 The first winds on Saturday morning

The first winds on Saturday morning

^ 7:00 AM - The first winds are there. The gray clouds too, and the brightness starts to drop. For now, the frigates and seagulls are still flying and the jackdaws are hovering in the shelter of the wind behind our 20-storey building. Waves are beginning to form on the bay. During the night, the trajectory of the hurricane deviated towards the west. It would appear that the Gulf Coast would be the most affected. Yesterday evening bars organized hurricane partys; I started a painting. Everyone is worried about us: the family of course, but also old acquaintances who reconnect for the occasion.

^ Saturday, September 9, 2017 ^

 The Bay at 10:30AM

The Bay at 10:30AM

^ 11:00 AM - Irma has just moved into category 4 but its path is still right through Miami. Jose goes up to category 3. The morning was devoted to the cooking of all the frozen goods and a part of the fresh products. All our portable devices are charging. All available containers are filled with water, we put on freezer the maximum number of bottles to have ice in the event of a power failure. The office manager of the condo assured us the cut will be inevitable. And probably long given the aging state of the North Miami power grid. The weather is still beautiful, it is very hot with a little breeze and some boats still circulate on the bay. The security helicopters make rounds over the buildings. Air traffic stops this evening. This is also the time to send emails to family and loved ones. Now we stand for the first winds.

 Food and drink stocks are ready

Food and drink stocks are ready

^ 7:00 AM - That's it, we're ready. For the first pass: nothing on the balcony, furniture distant from the windows even if they are anti-hurricane and a small corner with mattresses at the back of the apartment in a bathroom without windows. Also flashlights, candles, water and food, blankets and a deck of cards. For the post-storm: canned food and lots of water and beer (!). The bath is full of water to flush the toilet, all fragile or important things are stored in the dressing room. The real expectation begins in an atmosphere mixed with anguish and excitement. We will not go as far as making a Hurricane Party like some people, but we approach the threat with relative serenity. We talk a lot about what could happen to us worse: we are privileged and our lives are probably not in danger. Then we think of the cars that could be flooded, of the windows that might not hold the shock, of the building that has already lived some hurricanes since the 1970s ... We also talk about the moment after: will the water be drinkable, the electricity cut off, the telecommunications nonexistent, the roads impassable? For how long ?

^ Friday, September 8, 2017 ^

 The highway clogged northbound - credit ABC

The highway clogged northbound - credit ABC

^ 2:00 PM - Yesterday the mayor declared officially the start of the evacuation plan. As expected, a second wave of departures is blocking the roads northbound. And the gas pumps are empty on the way.

 Biscayne Bay under the sun, less than 48 hours before Irma hits

Biscayne Bay under the sun, less than 48 hours before Irma hits

South Florida has just gone through Hurricane Watch and the expected path of the storm has not really moved since yesterday. Jose is now in category 2. While the center of the hurricane is now passing through Haiti and the Dominican Republic, international aid is mobilizing in the West Indies. The control center is located in Guadeloupe, but there is no doubt that the Haitians, who are barely recovering from the passage of Matthew, will need more help than the others. I received worried calls from my family living in France. Indeed, the French news give to this hurricane very frightening proportions. The storm literally obliterated some areas of the islands and left a huge scar, human losses and everything to rebuild. Everybody here hopes that Irma will loss power before hitting the US coasts. Nothing is less sure. As for Florida Governor: "Regardless of which coast you live on, be prepared to evacuate [...] this is not a storm you can sit and wait through". Again, it is still very difficult to realize the threat under such a beautiful Miami sky today.

^ Thursday, September 7, 2017 ^

 Busy day in Miami

Busy day in Miami

^ 5:00 PM - According to NOAA map, Miami is still not under Hurricane watch. It is true that the alerts, official or not, spread very quickly in Florida. This is the first time that people are preparing so early for a hurricane, but the Floridians still have in mind the images of Harvey's devastation in Texas and feel even more threatened. While the warning is discontinued for St Martin and Anguilla, social medias start broadcasting dramatic videos of the aftermath, along with violent footages showing the islands hammered by the merciless winds. 

Since last night, it’s nearly impossible to book a flight online, regardless of the destination. The flight company’s websites are overloaded and prices are artificially rising. On the ground, it is more than ever a show in front of grocery stores. The lines are forming long before opening hour, mostly consisting of people looking for water. But inside the store, water shelves are desperately empty so everyone is heading to soda and beer aisles. I’ve heard people saying all of this is a conspiracy fomented by the major distribution groups like Walmart or Publix, that these powerful people know better about the real path of the hurricane which will not hit Florida, that it is a big scam made to make you spend all your pennies… Really? Come on, the reality of Nature forces could be a lot more painful than the disappointment of learning that one cannot trust Western capitalism.

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^ 1:00 PM - The storm is slowing down. Speed is decreasing but not strength, giving to Miami Mayor a little more time to prepare. The evacuation order is now in process.

 Hard time in St Martin - credit News18

Hard time in St Martin - credit News18

^ 9:00 AM – The “potentially catastrophic cat 5 hurricane Irma passes over St-Martin” says NOAA in its last public advisory. I have seen videos on Internet news and the pictures looks like a time lapse. The winds are strong, very strong, devastating. Jose is still behind when a third tropical storm takes a name in the Gulf: Katia. Weird. Maybe a good example of “extreme weather event” instead of “physical and undeniable proof of climate change”.

^ Wednesday, September 6, 2017 ^

 Perfect condition during Matthew in South Beach - credit Surfline

Perfect condition during Matthew in South Beach - credit Surfline

^ 5:00 PM - Miami Dade County announced that all public schools and universities will be closed on Thursday and Friday for preparedness. At the same time, a name was given to the next tropical storm already forming in the Atlantic and pushing Irma’s tail: Jose. The surf forecast plans on 25 to 40 feet swell (7 to 12 meters) on Sunday by 9:00AM with winds reaching 117mph (188km/h). No doubt that the crazy surfers in Haulover and South Beach will soak the fins like they did last year during the passage of Hurricane Matthew.

 Irma possible tracks - credit Weather Channel

^ 2:00 PM - It’s the day after Labor Day and it seems like people won’t go to work anyway. It’s Survival Shopping Day. Endless lines are forming inside every grocery and stores along Biscayne Boulevard. By the way, the highway has become almost impracticable and Waze announces an average speed of 4 mph (6km/h). The most impressive gatherings take place at Costco and Home Depot where parking lots are filled with hundreds of cars. Needless to say that the most basic products are already missing: no more bottled water, batteries, duct tape or strand boards on the alleys. Gas stations are also assaulted by farsighted drivers, even though a road evacuation may be difficult, as the planned trajectory of Irma runs all the way through the center of Florida.

 Morning advisory - credit NOAA

Morning advisory - credit NOAA

^ 8:00 AM - This Morning Hurricane Irma turned into category 5 tropical storm offshore Leeward Islands and is on a collision course with South Florida. If I magnify the forecast line on National Hurricane Center Website, it looks like the possible trajectory goes directly through my southbound window. A little scary. Especially when NOAA says it’s already “the strongest hurricane ever recorded outside the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico”. For now, the weather is SoFlo-like: temperature 89°F(32°C), wind speed 11mph (18km/h), humidity 73% with chances of showers by the end of the day. Hard to realize a monster is coming.

^ Tuesday, September 5, 2017 ^

 Satellite view of Irma hurricane by NOAA

Satellite view of Irma hurricane by NOAA

For this Labor Day, NOAA offers a nice satellite view of Irma. OK, no doubt this is a badass hurricane.

^ Monday, September 4, 2017 ^

 The first hurricane warning on ABC News

The first hurricane warning on ABC News

This is the first alert for Hurricane Irma, a growing category 3 storm in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. But no one really cares for the moment, most of the media are still covering the damage caused by hurricane Harvey in Southeast Texas a few days ago.

^ Saturday, September 2, 2017 ^

Jack from the Ocean to the Plate

The Jack or Trevally doesn't have a good reputation as good-to-eat fish. Try it in a different way!

 Even a small Jack will give you an amazing fight!

Even a small Jack will give you an amazing fight!

If the Jack is not known for the quality of its flesh, it's because most fishermen don't know how to prepare it. Indeed, if this fish is not worked properly, its muscles tetanize and keep the blood inside, which gives an unpleasant consistency and a gray color. But it is a great sport species, local in Florida and sustainable alternative to overfished Tuna.

 A Yellow Jack caught off Key Biscayne, FL

A Yellow Jack caught off Key Biscayne, FL

More than any predatory fish, the Jack must be killed quickly after capture by pricking a knife directly in its brain. Then it must be bleed by cutting the arteries behind the ears and letting it drain from its blood for a minimum of one hour in water with ice.

The best method of killing fish for consumption is called Ikijime and comes from Japan.

 On the left, the flesh of a bleeded Jack. On the right, the flesh of a Jack which was left to die slowly on the deck of the boat.

On the left, the flesh of a bleeded Jack. On the right, the flesh of a Jack which was left to die slowly on the deck of the boat.

Once the Jack is emptied of its blood, the fillets are lifted, placed in a vacuum plastic bag so that the oxygen does not oxidize the flesh, and then the meat is allowed to mature for at least three days in the less cold part of the refrigerator.

 Sushis and Sashimi made with the Jacks on the above photo

Sushis and Sashimi made with the Jacks on the above photo

Taste it prepared this way and you will never say again « Jacks are bad to eat »!

A Fin in the Bay

The sight of a fin in the ocean may be, depending on people, a trigger of uncontrollable fear or immense joy. I fall into the second category, mostly when it's a dolphin's fin.

 A magnificent vision of this elegant and powerful cetacean, at the top of his food chain, swimming smoothly in the waters of the bay. In this picture, taken not far from Pelican Harbor, appear the beautiful curves of a  Tursiops truncatus  or Bottlenose Dolphin.

A magnificent vision of this elegant and powerful cetacean, at the top of his food chain, swimming smoothly in the waters of the bay. In this picture, taken not far from Pelican Harbor, appear the beautiful curves of a Tursiops truncatus or Bottlenose Dolphin.

Here are some facts to better know this species, common in South Florida waters:

Bottle nose dolphins are dark gray marine mammals, sometimes even black, with light gray on the flanks. Their belly is white with sometimes a slight pinkish color.

These animals measure 3 to 4 feet at birth for a weight between 30 and 40 pounds. Adults range from 8 to 12 feet and can weigh up to 1000 pounds.

Tursiops truncatus lives in a structured society segmented into four distinct age classes: newborns, juveniles, sub-adults and adults. Each of these classes corresponds to a particular period in the life of the individual to which physical characteristics and particular behaviors are associated.

The newborns are very pale in color, with a body marked by folds and fetal lines. The dorsal fin has no notches or scratches. There are also hairs around his rostrum during the first days of the animal. During the first 10 weeks, the mother stays very close and the body contact with the newborn is very important. There are many games and social behaviors during this period.

The age range of juveniles is between 10 weeks and 4 years. The juvenile dolphin is smaller than adults and sub-adults and its skin is paler. His behavior is similar to that of newborns with a lot of social activities and games. Juveniles are closely associated with their mothers or other youngsters in the group.

The age group of sub-adults concerns animals aged 4 to 14 years. Separation with the mother characterizes this period. They are sexually immature, the size is close of adults but the body is less robust. The dorsal fin is not yet marked or is less marked than adults. Sub-adults associate with each other primarily.

The adult Bottlenose dolphin is a dark-colored animal whose dorsal fin is marked with scratches and notches. Adults are usually accompanied by younger individuals or other adult.

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Like all marine mammals, the Bottlenose dolphin is protected by several international conventions.

Tursiops truncatus is classified as a "minor concern" on the 2013 IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature), which is not in decline despite the many threats to this animal and its habitat.

Bluer than Blue

Scarus coeruleus, the Blue Parrotfish, wears the rarest color in animal kingdom

 A spectacular specimen caught and released off Elliott Key, Florida

A spectacular specimen caught and released off Elliott Key, Florida

Blue is the rarest color in the animal world, this pigment being synthesized only by a small number of species.
The Blue Parrotfish is an incredible example, with an extremely powerful coerulean pigment. Better than a pantone sample.

Note: the species is not protected in Florida, is abundant in all the Caribbean and considered Least Concern by the IUCN. Only restriction, you cannot catch it with a speargun.

Smoking Bay

On June 28, a pleasure craft caught fire for an unknown reason near Pelican Harbor, north of Miami Bay.

 A view of the boat on fire from North Miami

A view of the boat on fire from North Miami

7 News said that the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue has tried by all means to extinguish the fire, watering the brazier from several angles of attack.

What I could see was very different: yes, several fire boats and an helicopter were present around the fire, but when an explosion occurred and turned the small incident into a big mess everyone put away the hoses. An large column of black smoke then rose above the bay, reaching downtown a few minutes later, carried by the northwest wind.
How many pollutants escaped from the bonfire when all the observers let it slowly burn and die?

The media announce that no victim is to be deplored. I say that if a burned bbq chicken or a cigar smoke can give cancer, the bay took that day a good dose of carcinogenic particles. No victims? Hey?

The Eclipse Effects on Marine Life

This is not a rumor but a fact: marine animals modify their behavior during a solar eclipse.

 The 2017 Solar Eclipse was partial in Florida (79%)

The 2017 Solar Eclipse was partial in Florida (79%)

For example, zooplankton reacts to the progressive decrease in brightness in the same way as at nightfall: it ascends the water column to get closer to the surface. Some similar observations have been made on fishes, and can be found on this short article by S. G. Reebs.

But what we can find on this particular subject is mostly missing scientific data due to the scarcity of this type of event. It would be extremely interesting to make observations on organisms directly dependent on light, such as heliophilic corals.

But I think I just missed my chance by letting pass the solar eclipse today (August 21, 2017, too busy to take pictures of the solar masked star). In any case, there are not many corals to study in Florida, since more than 90% of the coral reefs have bleached and / or died because of pollution and tourism activities since the 1970s ...

Nautilus and the Golden Number

The Golden Ratio exists, but does it really appears in natural patterns as often as we think ?

 Nautilus and the Golden Ratio / Le nautile et le nombre d'or - Drawing by Okhaen

It is the proportion by which the ratio between two parts is equal to the ratio between the greater of these parts and the whole. Thus 1,618039887 ... and an infinite number of decimals. It is linked to the Fibonacci sequence, which is made up of whole numbers corresponding to many natural growth patterns and which tends towards the golden ratio.
But, notwithstanding the frequent assertion to the contrary, the shell of the nautilus is not a spiral of gold. In most books dedicated to the subject, and even more so on the Internet, there is information that the logarithmic spiral of Nautilus pompilius is developed according to the divine proportion.
The mathematician Marius Cleyet-Michaud explains: "The golden ratio has its devotees, and this devotion can manifest itself in very diverse forms, from the ecstatic contemplation to the fanaticism and even the violence. This provide serious difficulties for those who wish to initiate themselves sincerely, without prejudice, to the phenomenon "Golden Ratio". Most of the books written on this subject mix real mathematical facts and assertions that it is not known whether they are mere hypotheses. " in Que-Sais-Je, Le nombre d'or, PUF, 2009

Don't let Wikipedia fool you!

Beware of the information published on the internet:

A few years ago (2010), this hoax was broadcasted on the web practically without control or verification.
The false discovery of a new species of abyssal fish was published on leader websites including Wikipedia, Fishbase and Fish Watcher for several weeks before being identified as a forgery and removed.
This virtual artistic intervention was a means of alerting the public to the danger of the information published on the web, especially when it comes to scientific and technical fields.

Here is the reports on Wikipedia and Fishbase:

 A fake article on Wikipedia
 A fake report on Fishbase

And here is the full fake scientific article used to deceive the websites administrators:


OBSERVATION OF UNDESCRIBED BATHYRAJA SP. IN THE EAST OF NEW ZEALAND (South Pacific)

Natacha ERDYAU & Sergio-Gabriel NAHK

Summary: Presentation of a skate from Bathyraja genus captured around 2500 m depth east of New Zealand in 2007. A second one has been living photographed in 2009, confirming that it’s a not yet described abyssal species, and taxon Bathyraja transpicia Erdyau & Nahk, 2009 was proposed by authors.

Keywords: Rajidae, Bathyraja, new species, abyssal benthos, New Zealand

Methods: During the private exploration campaign using deep sea winch "Aotearoa deep sea", which took place on board of the fishing vessel "Moana Explorer" from 7 to 25 April 2007 in New Zealand, located on the slope off Wharanui (North-eastern South Island), at an average depth between 2,000 and 2,600 m, the different species of fish caught were identified and photographed each time. We have presented the most significant catch in an earlier publication (Erdyau & Nahk, 2007) which some have been preserved to integrate the collection of the Canterbury Museum. However, we have seen in the photo archive of the expedition one skate that we inappropriately identified as a juvenile specimen of Bathyraja abyssicola (Gilbert, 1896). Unfortunately we didn’t take it on collection, and it appears, after careful examination of photographs, that this individual differs from the species currently known.

This is an adult specimen of 16cm length, caught aboard the “Moana Explorer” on 12/04/2007, on station CH27 at 2467 m depth ; 42 ° 9 '47'' south / 176 ° 57 '12'' east (Fig. 2).

In a second research conducted in 2009 on the stations listed two years ago, we took some digital photographies at great depth. The private campaign, entitled "Deep Sea Aotearoa 2" took place aboard the vessel "Moana Explorer" from 12 to 18 November 2009 in New Zealand, on stations CH16 to CH9, at a depth between 2100 and 2450 m. Its primary objective was to collect information on species listed above, including photographs of fish in their environment. Several photos of a Bathyraja sp. have been made, showing a phenotype that confirms his relationship with the specimen caught in 2007.

This is an specimen of about 18 cm long, photographed from the "Moana Explorer" on 17/11/2009, station CH14 at 2231 m depth, 42 ° 30 '22'' south / 177 ° 37' 39''east (Fig. 3).

Identification: The absence of spines on the disc, the general shape of the rostrum and body push us to classify this species in the genus Bathyraja Ishiyama, 1958. There are four known species of this genus in New Zealand waters: B. asperula Garrick & Paul, 1974 ; B. richardsoni (Garrick, 1961) ; B. shuntovi Dolganov, 1985 ; B. spinifera (Garrick & Paul, 1974) ( Fig. 1 ).

It is now evident that the two specimens observed during surveys at sea are none of these species and does not constitute juvenile of them. Given the distribution of other members of the genus Bathyraja in the world and the morphological features observed, this is probably an undescribed species.

 Fig. 1 : Compared drawings of the five species of  Bathyraja  from New Zealand - a :  B. asperula , b :  B. richardsoni , c :  B. shuntovi , d :  B.   spinier , e: B. transpicia.

Fig. 1 : Compared drawings of the five species of Bathyraja from New Zealand - a : B. asperula, b : B. richardsoni, c : B. shuntovi, d : B. spinier, e: B. transpicia.

Description: This skate has no spine on the dorsal surface, but 17 very small median spines on the tail. The disc is slightly asymmetrical, the anterior line of wings is sinuous and snout is protruding. The tail is very long, thin, approximately 53% of the total length and ends with two median pavilions. The dorsal surface has an iridescent appearance in water, slightly rough to the touch and the ventral surface is smooth and slippery. The entire body is translucent except for the cartilaginous skeleton and vital organs. The observation of these elements through the skin and muscles gives the impression of a diffuse pigmentation from red to purple. This transparency disappears quickly after the death of the animal.

 Fig. 2 : Photographs of the dorsal (a) and ventral (b) faces of the holotype of  Bathyraja transpicia  caught in April 2007. Note the opacification of the body following the death of the animal.

Fig. 2 : Photographs of the dorsal (a) and ventral (b) faces of the holotype of Bathyraja transpicia caught in April 2007. Note the opacification of the body following the death of the animal.

The morphological characters of this species, that we propose to call Bathyraja transpicia because of its translucent body (from latin transpicio, "see through") distinguish it from the four species named above for New Zealand.

Ecology: Biological knowledge on this species are very limited, and its study requires further field data. According to our observations, Bathyraja transpicia lives between 2200 and 2500 m deep, in cold waters and low current. It seems to prefer the proximity of sand/muddy bottom in open water (we have never observed it on the substrate). Its swimming is very fast and jerky. Its diet is partly carnivorous, as the holotype was captured using a piece of fish.

 Fig. 3 : Photo of  Bathyraja transpicia  in situ, made in 2009.

Fig. 3 : Photo of Bathyraja transpicia in situ, made in 2009.

References :

ERDYAU N. & NAHK S.-G., 2007. -Observations ichtyologiques effectuées en 2007 à bord du navire de pêche Moana Explorer, Bulletin of the New Zealand Marine Society, 3 (7) : 125-169.

GARRICK J. A. F. & PAUL L. J., 1974. The taxonomy of New Zealand skates with description of three new species, Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 4 (3) : 345-377.

LAST P. R., YEARSLEY G. K., 2002. Zoogeography and relationships of Australasian skates, Journal of Biogeography, 29 (12) : 1627–1641.

MCEACHRAN J. D., 1984. Anatomical investigations of the New Zealand skates Bathyraja asperula and B. spinifera, with an evaluation of their classification within the Rajoidei, American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Copeia 1 : 45-58.

To cite this article :

ERDYAU N. & NAHK S.-G., 2009. –Observation of not described Bathyraja sp. In the East of New Zealand (South Pacific), Survey Bulletin of the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, 5 (3) : 42-49.

 

Molluscan origins of Artistic diversity

I play here with the correspondences between natural patterns and artistic representations, to visually explore the probable biological origins of artistic diversity.

Each picture of mollusk is an ordered enlargement, a two-dimensional synthesis of what we perceive of these animals through vision, a tool that allows the observer to compare the patterns by juxtaposition.
I'd like to show samples of the chromatic variations of the marine molluscs and the pictorial motifs of the non-figurative arts, two fields extremely distant from one another. Yet we can observe striking visual similarities through the selection of some particularly expressive examples. Indeed, the production of these motifs, whether of natural or artistic origin, corresponds to communicative values, the comparison of which constitutes an iconography worthy of interest.

I have selected these biology and art domains for their apparent semantic separation, taking the side of confronting them. This could be useful for the explanation of the visual correspondence phenomenon. Moreover, these subjects have a reduced place in their usual context: Molluscs are a phylum embedded in the immense field of biodiversity, and non-figurative representations are a small point on the historical scale of artistic manifestations.
In this case study which voluntarily compares subjects reduced and distant from one another, we shall first observe the formal aspect of the motifs.

The iconic and semantic notions attached to the works will be ignored in favor of the purely plastic characteristics of the selected works. Similarly, the biological and ecological notions of molluscs will be set aside to focus on the visual aspects of the selected species. 

Enjoy.

 mollusks patterns comparison abstract art