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National Oceanography Center
National Oceanography Center

Boaty McBoatface Is About to Embark on Its First Mission

National Oceanography Center
National Oceanography Center

Boaty McBoatface is shoving off. The Arctic submarine was a bit of a consolation prize to the 124,000 people who voted last year to give the silly moniker to a $300 million polar research ship (which was instead named for David Attenborough), but it has real research value. Mashable reports that the long-range autonomous submarine has launched its first mission, which will explore some of the deepest parts of the ocean.

Boaty McBoatface will sail south from Chile later this week to start collecting data for the Dynamics of the Orkney Passage Outflow (DynOPO) project. The study of the Orkney Passage, located about 500 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula, includes researchers from the UK’s National Oceanography Center and the British Antarctic Survey. They hope to analyze how turbulence in the waters there, two miles under the ocean surface, might affect climate change.

The Antarctic Bottom Water, a mass of dense, cold water at the bottom of the ocean, plays an important part in ocean water circulation, moving cold water from Antarctica around the world. The DynOPO project aims to see how changes in winds near Antarctica might influence that system, and the data collected by Boaty McBoatface can help scientists model the flow of those abyssal waters and their relation to general climate patterns.

[h/t Mashable]

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NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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Food
Jellyfish Chips Might Be Your Next Snack Obsession
iStock
iStock

When it comes to processed foods, the palate of the average American isn't very adventurous. A bag of pickle-flavored Lay's chips might be a radical snack option. But if researchers in Denmark are on the right track, we may soon be crunching a very different kind of treat: jellyfish chips, as Futurism reports.

The ethereal-looking marine animals are usually recognized for their squishy frames and sometimes as a threat due to their venomous sting. They're often prepared for human consumption in Asian cultures, with the body being marinated in salt and potassium for weeks to create a crunchy delicacy. Recently, Danish scientists at the University of Southern Denmark were able to expedite this process, using ethanol to create a crispy jellyfish chip in a matter of days.

A jellyfish chip is made from a jellyfish being dried out in ethanol
Mie T. Pedersen

Why bother? Due to overfishing, more popular seafoods are experiencing shortages. The jellyfish, however, have a flourishing population and are rich in vitamins and minerals.

Right now, researchers are focused on the microscopic changes that take place when processing a jellyfish from its gooey natural state to a hardened, crunchy form. It could be a while before any serious product development is conducted. And as far as taste goes, it might need a bit of seasoning. The current process for making jellyfish consumable results in a taste that some have compared to eating a salty rubber band.

[h/t Futurism]

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