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Feb. 2nd, 2010 | 09:38 pm

Manatee, Manatee Springs State Park, Florida, January 2010

So I know that it isn't the best picture in the world, but it was pretty hard to get a good picture of it.  What is it?  Trichechus manatus latirostris, the Florida subspecies of the West Indian Manatee.  It was the first one I had ever seen!!  I was very excited to see it, since I was completely obsessed with manatees in elementary and middle school.  In a way, they were my first introduction to being passionate about something science-related.  And, until January, I hadn't ever seen one!  This was taken at Manatee Springs State Park, where I camped in January.  Pretty awesome.  It surprised me that they were pretty silent breathers, unlike dolphins (and other cetaceans), who one can here from a good distance away,  Heck, I've heard humpback whales down in a bay while I was climbing a mountain above.  It also surprised me how tiny their heads looked from my viewpoint out of the water.  I also saw two more manatees, a mother and a calf.  It was a pretty neat experience.

Horseshoe crabs don't usually get much love.

I thought this combination of signs at the beach in Cedar Key, FL was pretty awesome.  Horseshoe crabs don't usually get much love, so letting the public know not to disturb them is something that I appreciate.  They aren't cute and cuddly, like birds can be, and can be a little scary when you first look at them, but they're really harmless.  And absolutely fascinating!  Blue blood -- that's pretty cool.  Like many other crustaceans, these "crabs" have hemocyanin (contains copper), not hemoglobin (contains iron), in their blood.

But my life right now is full of classes, and most of the material covered therein is pretty cool stuff.  For example, I'm doing a research paper on haloarchaea, archaea that require a very high concentration of salt to grow.  I settled on this because I found this completely freaking mind-blowing journal article:

Occurrence of Halococcus spp. in the nostrils salt glands of the seabird Calonectris diomedea

Whoa!  Archaea that colonize the salt glands of a migratory species, possibly explaining the "distribution of haloarchaea through the Earth's surface"!!!!!  How awesomely amazing is that?

Back to work!  Or maybe I should go home.  I have to get up early tomorrow morning.

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