Weird Animal Monday: Bioluminescent Octopus

The adhesive suckers on the female are all the same size while the ones on the male vary in size.

I’ve seen this image a few times and decided to find out a little more about this amazing looking octopus. This is the Bioluminescent Octopus, scientifically known as: Stauroteuthis syrtensis. It is found in the North Atlantic Ocean, at extreme depths that range from 500 to 4,000 m. It has eight tentacles that are unequal in length, the longest extending to about 14 in., and they are joined by two webs, which gives it its umbrella-like shape. There are a total of about 60 adhesive suckers on each arm, 40 of which are modified to emit a blue-green light, known as photophores. It is believed that the function of these photophores is as defense, to scare off predators, and to also lure small crustaceans, its primary diet. The texture is gelatinous (as you would expect), and it is reddish-brown and translucent (you can see its organs through its skin!).

I’ve always been amazed by deep-sea creatures, the mystery of what we haven’t discovered yet has always interested me. Unfortunately this creature is so rare there are no videos of it. The known information is known only from a few gathered specimens.

Source: OurBreathingPlanet

 

Should We Donate To The Susan G. Komen Foundation?

Pink ribbons adorn various places and items through the year to promote breast cancer awareness. The ribbons are a trademark of the Susan G. Komen foundation, which advocates breast self-awareness as a primary method for fighting breast cancer. Around 458,000 people die of breast cancer each year, it’s no puzzle that we need to raise awareness and money to  fight this disease. The Komen foundation devotes millions of dollars to more than 100 research grants aimed at curing, and hopefully preventing, breast cancer. It also funds thousands of community health programs and helps establish new global programs that all help the cause of breast cancer awareness. The foundation has several ways in which it generates revenue to use towards its mission. The Susan G. Komen Race for the cure is the world’s largest fundraising event for breast cancer. The primary source of revenue for the event is donations collected by the participants in the race.

Nothing big comes without its fair share of controversy, the Komen foundation is no exception. In recent years the Komen foundation has faced criticism for how much of its raised money was being donated to cancer research. Should we be donating to this foundation?

The Beginning
The foundation was started when Nancy Goodman Brinker’s sister, Susan Goodman Komen, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33 and died of the disease at the age of 36 in 1980. Nancy Brinker, who believed that Susan’s outcome might have been better if patients knew more about cancer and its treatment, promised her sister that she would do everything she could to end breast cancer, the Susan G. Komen foundation was started in 1982 to fulfill that promise in her memory.

Controversy And Criticism
With each year that passed, the foundation grew with volunteers and supporters, and continued to raise more money. In December 2009,  Brinker was appointed CEO of the organization. In recent years, Brinker’s organization has been criticized for how they spend the money that people entrust them with. Nancy Brinker’s salary has been a direct target, as in 2011 she was paid $417,712 as CEO, and is currently being paid $684,000 a year according to the charity’s latest available tax filing. This is a bit of a shock, considering not only has the foundation cut by nearly half the proportion of fund-raising dollars it spends on research grants in recent years, but also only spent 15% of its donations from 2011 on research grants and awards. The organization also has a bad reputation for using a lot of its donor funds for legal fees that involve denying other fundraising efforts by other individuals.

The Komen foundation has identified and filed legal trademark oppositions against more than a hundred small non-affiliated fundraising charities because of their use of the word “cure” in their charity name or the use of the color pink. According to Komen’s financial statements, the cost of these legal fees add up to almost a million dollars each year, lets not forget this is donated money being spent. Isn’t this supposed to be an organization whose mission is to raise money for a good cause? Why are they so worried that others will also raise money for that same cause? Obviously because it interferes with the business side of their organization, the part where they don’t generate enough money for profit.

The biggest controversy that the Komen foundation has had is that of  their relationship with Planned Parenthood. In 2007, Komen granted money to pay for 170,000 clinical breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In 2012, Komen stopped funding Planned Parenthood, citing a congressional investigation and a newly created internal rule about not funding organizations under any federal, state or local investigation. This move was applauded by conservative and religious groups but it was denounced by several editorials, women’s health advocacy groups, and politicians. Four days later, due to the public’s response, the foundation reversed the decision and announced it would amend the policy to “make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in  nature and no political”.

Komen benefits from corporate partnerships, receiving over $55 million a year from corporate sponsors. There has been a lot of criticism over its choices in partnerships. For the 2008 model year, the Ford Motor  company built a branded limited edition of 2500 Ford Mustang motorcars with a “Warriors in Pink” package as part of their long-running association with Komen. A study found that women employed in the automotive plastics industry are almost five times as likely to develop breast cancer, prior to menopause, as women in a control group. In April 2012, Komen paired with KFC to offer “Buckets for the Cure”, a promotion in which fried and grilled chicken was sold in pink branded buckets. The collaboration garnered criticism because of the promotion of unhealthy eating habits and obesity, since obesity itself contributes to breast cancer. Now to be fair, all this criticisms over partnerships is ridiculous, the foundation is trying to raise money for breast cancer research, not obesity issues, that’s another problem in itself.

Would I donate money to this foundation? My answer is yes, and this is my personal reason as to why. Although this isn’t the only foundation out there for this particular cause, it is one that is doing a lot of work on a global scale to help its main mission, breast cancer awareness. I feel like it has done a great job at that, I don’t think there is a single person in the U.S that doesn’t associate a pink ribbon with breast cancer. Although the foundation, according to its own financial records, doesn’t do well in the use of its money, I think that once it realizes that not as many people want to invest in their organization because of their use of funds, they might reconsider some of their financial decisions.

Sources: Wikipedia, Komen.org, Huffington Post, Washington Post

Weird Animal Monday: Blue Dragon

The Glaucus Atlanticus, also known as the sea swallow, blue angel, blue glaucus, blue dragon, blue sea slug, and blue ocean slug.

Although this little mystical-looking creature resembles a dragon, it’s only a sea slug. It feeds on other pelagic creatures like the venomous cnidarian. Picking up one of these isn’t recommended, the ability to store nematocysts within its own tissues, to be able to eat other venomous creatures, also allows them to deliver a painful sting.

These slugs don’t grow to be much larger than 3 centimeters in length. You won’t find these in U.S waters, they are found in the East and South Coast of South Africa, European waters, the east coast of Australia and Mozambique. They float upside down on the surface tension of the ocean. Their gas-filled sac in its stomach allows them to float on the water’s surface.

Here is a video of a few that were collected in New South Wales.

Source: Wikipedia

The Mystery Of The 3 Dead Oregon Hunters

Curled up Rough-Skinned Newt. The most poisonous animal in America.

There is a tale about three hunters found dead around a campfire in Oregon in the 1960s. They showed no signs of injury and were not robbed. The only strange thing at the scene was a coffee pot, in which a curled up newt laid inside. a scientist named Butch Brodie became curious about the story and decided to investigate. The newt in the coffee pot-known as the rough-skinned newt-has a dull brown back, but when it is disturbed, it bends its head backward to reveal its orange bright colored belly. Bright colors are common in poisonous animals, they let others know they should probably not be eaten or messed with. Brodie wondered if the newts were toxic too.

Toxic would be an understatement, the newts produced a chemical in their skin called tetrodotoxin (TTX), 10,000 times deadlier than cyanide. We may never know for sure what killed the three hunters from Oregon, but there was definitely enough poison in their coffee pot to kill them and many more.

Another interesting fact about the rough-skinned newt is that the female newts pass some of their TTX to their eggs, to protect them from predators.

Source: Discover Magazine

Should We Panic About Ebola?

It has definitely been a while since I made a post. I have been of course, busy with life itself, and my temporary 7 day work week schedule. I will talk more about some recent changes to the website at the end of this post.

Ebola outbreak has been the topic of all news channels lately, and internet media as well. I just returned from my local gas station, as I payed for my food the guy next to me was ranting about the current Ebola U.S infected people count. The current amount of infected people in the U.S right now is 1, in Texas. Keep in mind that I live in North Carolina, we are hundreds of miles away and yet here is this person semi-panicking. So the question arises, should we be worried even this far away from it?

First we must understand what Ebola is.

an infectious and generally fatal disease marked by fever and severe internal bleeding, spread through contact with infected body fluids by a filovirus ( Ebola virus ).

Notice how the definition specifically says that it’s spread through contact with bodily fluids, it’s not air-born. In order to transmit the decease via bodily fluids, you first have to start showing symptoms. Even though the virus grows within the body, it takes a high level of volume of it to appear in bodily fluids.

So let’s recap, the virus can only be spread if you touch someone’s body fluids, like blood. The decease will only spread if the symptoms are apparent, making it easier to contain from spreading.

How do you prevent from being infected?

  • Avoid direct contact with blood, saliva, vomit, urine and other bodily fluids of people with Ebola or unknown illnesses.
  • Avoid close contact with wild animals and avoid handling wild meat.
  • Know the symptoms of Ebola and avoid contact with people showing the symptoms.
  • Wash your hands!

Here is a relevant tweet.

https://twitter.com/SciencePorn/status/517657272726867969

 

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