11 posts in Research & Faculty Spotlight

Inspired by Northern clingfish, researchers make a better suction cup

The finger-sized Northern clingfish employs one of the best suction cups in the world. A small disk on its belly can attach to wet, slimy, even rough surfaces and hold up to 230 times its own body weight. A University of Washington team inspired by the clingfish’s suction power set out to develop an artificial suction cup that borrows from nature’s design. Their prototype, described in a paper published Sept. 9 in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, actually performed better than the clingfish.

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Mark your Calendars for SAFS’s 2019 Autumn Seminar Series

The School of Aquatic and Fishery Science’s (SAFS) annual Autumn Seminar Series begins next week, Thursday, September 26. Be sure to view the SAFS events page and hit the + to subscribe and have information about each week’s presentation added to your calendar. Presentations will also be recorded and uploaded to the SAFS YouTube channel the following day.

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What motivates people to join — and stick with — citizen science projects?

One of the most established hands-on, outdoor citizen science projects is the University of Washington-based Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, COASST, which trains beachgoers along the West Coast, from California to Alaska, to monitor their local beach for dead birds. With about 4,500 participants in its 21-year history and roughly 800 active participants today, COASST’s long-term success is now the subject of scientific study in its own right. What makes people join citizen science projects, and what motivates people to stick with them over years?

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Deep submersible dives shed light on rarely explored coral reefs

Corals that live in the mesophotic zone

Just beyond where conventional scuba divers can go is an area of the ocean that still is largely unexplored. In waters this deep — about 100 to at least 500 feet below the surface — little to no light breaks through.

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Tiny fishes fuel life on coral reefs

Most bottom-dwelling fish try to avoid predation through hiding or camouflage. This colorful bluebelly blenny fish scans its surroundings with its head sticking out of its hole.

In a paper published May 23 in Science, a team of international researchers from Simon Fraser University, University of Washington and other institutions reveals that the iconic abundance of fishes on reefs is fueled by an unlikely source: tiny, bottom-dwelling reef fishes.

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Exploring Our Watery World at UW’s Aquatic Science Open House

On May 4th, the University of Washington held its second annual Aquatic Science Open House, inviting Seattle-area families, students, and teachers to explore the institution’s marine and freshwater science programs. The event was organized by the Students Explore Aquatic Sciences (SEAS) outreach group based in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS) and the Academic and Recreational Graduate Oceanographers (ARGO) outreach group based in the School of Oceanography. 

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Arsenic-breathing life discovered in the tropical Pacific Ocean

Image of California’s Mono Lake taken from the brown rocky shore

“We’ve known for a long time that there are very low levels of arsenic in the ocean,” said co-author Gabrielle Rocap, a UW professor of oceanography. “But the idea that organisms could be using arsenic to make a living — it’s a whole new metabolism for the open ocean.”

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José M. Guzmán receives UW Distinguished Teaching Award

José teaching in FSH 250: Marine Biology

José M. Guzmán, Acting Instructor within the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, is one of this year’s seven recipients of the University of Washington’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

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Wisdom of Crowds: A Conversation with Andrew Berdahl

School of salmon staging at mouth of Sam Creek.

In 1906 while attending a livestock fair in Plymouth England, Sir Francis Galton witnessed an interesting contest where locals were trying to guess the correct weight of a slaughtered and dressed ox (think jellybeans in a jar, but for butchers). He examined all 800 guesses and calculated the median calling it the vox populi, or “voice of the people,” reasoning that this would cancel out outliers on either side of the true answer. Astonishingly, the median guess was extremely close–within .8%–of the weight measured by the judges and closer than any individual guess. “This started the idea of the wisdom of crowds, where if you have a whole bunch of independent guesses you can average them, cast off the errant guess on either side and hone in on the right answer,” said Dr. Andrew Berdahl one of the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences’ newest faculty members.

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Sea Pens: Light on the Seafloor

Orange Seapen

It’s easy to see where the orange sea pen gets its name. A soft-bodied invertebrate that lives on the ocean floor, sea pens look just like feathered quills once used for writing. And where there’s one sea pen, there are usually others – lots of them – all swaying in the ocean current gobbling up planktonic plants and animals as they drift by. 

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