Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Get the picture?

You all know how excited I was for the Interagency Crab Meeting (see my reaction here). This year's special topic session was 

Crab Surveys in Alaska -
Current and Future Practice

Hanumant Singh from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution was the guest speaker talking about how he applies his imaging prowess to biology and oceanography. His talk was "From Sensors to Platforms, from Data to Information - How technology can help in Benthic Surveys for Fisheries Related Activities" and he showed us wowed us with his awesome images and 3-D mapping of everything from the RMS Titanic (we're not over it yet) to king crabs heading towards Antarctica (remember reading about them here and here?) to sneaky octopus! Seriously, the octopus blew my mind. (Wait for the slow-motion reverse video, starting around 0:27.)

All amazing images aside, his take-home message was that there are several ways to survey marine populations and, while trawl/pot surveys are useful and necessary, for those areas that are too rocky or under sea ice coverage, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) can be a useful and surprisingly accurate tool!

harpooning: not just for mammals anymore!
(retrieving an AUV on that most stable of surfaces: the ice)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday snow [crab] balls!

Need a craft for this holiday season that's easy and inexpensive? And, of course, crab themed? Me too!

I was inspired again by Martha Stewart this year to make snow [crab] ball ornaments for around the house (remember the Martha-inspired glittered crab cards from last year?). I figured making paper ornaments out of recycled paper from my school would be the perfect way for this grad student to spread holiday cheer on little-to-no dough! (Although I will be making cookies too... does that count? Hey-oh!)

recycled papers and old folders = craft supplies

Let's get to it! The paper ornaments I found are so easy to make. They're actually little cubes with pretty designs.

I really like the look of these ornaments, but let's make them crabby!

1. Print out 6 circles (or 3 of these templates):

so pretty!

2. Fold the edges up so that you have nice surfaces to glue your squares together into a cube.

halfway there!
(and yes, those are mini clothes pins)

3. Add a ribbon or fishing line and hang with glee!

For the daring decorator, you can also make this behemoth using 20 circles!

this ball is made up of old Christmas cards -
brilliant! But not crabby enough!!

1. Print out 20 circles (or 10 of these templates):

2. Bend the edges up and glue 5 of the circles together to form a dome. Do the same with 5 other circles so that you have 2 domes. These will be the top and bottom of your ornament.

3. To each dome, attach 5 more circles along the bottom edge to make a sort of jagged row/star shape. Do you see where this is going?

4. Glue the jagged edges of the top and bottom dome together to get your ball! Don't forget to add string or ribbon so you can hang it proudly in your home!

If you want to make your own crab design, here are some blanks:

oh, the joys of creative freedom!

And if you want to make a king crab ball to go with your snow crab balls, click here for the directions to make this crab pod from World Animal Day:

another Martha-inspired, crab-tastic ball!

Happy decorating and
Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Snow crab models

Nothing reinvigorates my love for snow crabs like the Interagency Crab Meeting (I posted about last year's meeting here). So, after a fun and exciting meeting, I checked in with the blog to see what new opilio posts I had in the works, and wouldn't you know it? I just saw a talk about the article I had in my blog queue! Can you believe it?!?

so excited to be at the
World's Largest Truck Stop
Interagency Crab Meeting!

What was the talk, you're asking? Sarah Hardy's "Predicting the distribution and ecological niche of unexploited snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) populations in Alaskan waters: A first open-access ensemble model".

crab: "I'm a model, you know what I mean,
and I do my little turn on the catwalk!"

No, not that kind of model! Sarah and her co-authors ran GIS-based open-access ensemble models. Let me (try to) break that down for you:

GIS-based = data was compiled for all sampling locations using ArcGIS, a mapping program

open-access = snow crab data that is available to anyone using both published and unpublished data

ensemble = they used a combination of 3 model algorithms' outputs in order to get the best model predictions

So what were they predicting? Snow crab presence-absence, abundance, and biomass. The abundance model didn't predict large Bering Sea populations while the biomass models were in line with Bering Sea observations. BUT this makes sense: the results of those two models may be because there were more small crabs in the southern Chukchi Sea (throwing abundance off) while the Bering Sea crabs are larger than the Chukchi crabs (keeping biomass relatively consistent with what's known). Remember we learned about size differences with respect to latitude here, here, and here already!

snow crab get smaller the farther north they are found
(snow crabs NOT to scale!)

I don't want to give away all the secrets, so if you're interested in how the presence-absence model worked out, read the published article here!

model citation:
Hardy, S. M., M. Lindgren, H. Konakanchi, and F. Huettmann. Predicting the distribution and ecological niche of unexploited snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) populations in Alaskan waters: a first open-access ensemble model. Integrative and Comparative Biology 51: 608-622.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What's better than a picture of a yeti crab?

Videos of multiple yeti crabs!!

You'll remember from here that the yeti crab is actually a squat lobster, but that didn't stop me from freaking out about how cute and fluffy they look. And now my friend John (from this post) clued me in on some footage of yetis in their natural environment doing what they do best: looking adorable!

I know the second one doesn't have a catchy tune, but I like the way the fight ends: with more dancing. Way to go, yeti crab! Way to go.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Shopping for a crab lover?

Don't worry, I've got you covered! Whether you're hunting for a Christmas crab gift, a Chanukkah crab present, or simply a winter holiday crab treat, here are some ideas:

Robotic crabs! (And not like those tricky fiddler crab robots.)
These HEXBUG crabs walk around, react to loud noises,
and hide under dark places!

This little gal is another robotic crab, but this time in hermit crab form:
the catch with these Xia-Xia crabs is you can trade their shells!

If you want to go the more hand-crafted route, never fear because Etsy is here!

You can make your own horseshoe crab! So cute and unique!
(If you don't know how to crochet, there's a link to pre-made beauties.)

Finally, for those Krab lovers (fake crab meat really made out of a
ground pollock product called surimi), there's this adorable

OK, so I totally realize that only one of these products I've shown you can even be considered a true crab (that is, a brachyuran crab), which doesn't include hermit crabs, horseshoe crabs, or fake crab "meat". But that's not stopping me from enjoying these crab goodies! So happy shopping!