Diving to the Bottom of River and Ocean

Busy few months!  Cameron completed a manned dive to the Marianas Trench.  Along with Sylvia Earle, I discuss this feat on NPR’s Talking Points (you can listen here). In contrast to the positiveness of this story, io9 also features my blog post on the death of deep-sea science.

The lack of knowledge surrounding the oceans’ depths isn’t particularly surprising when you realize that funding for deep sea research has been dwindling for years. And according to Craig McClain — chief editor at Deep Sea News, and a deep sea researcher, himself — more cuts to deep sea funding are imminent.

But what do we have to gain from deep-sea research. Much. From my latest article at io9 What the deep seas tell us about life on other planets

On the brink of Cameron being only the third person to ever visit the Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench, I’m reminded how much exploration and scientific inquiry of the deep sea continues to challenge our perceptions of life and how life works. Insight gained form observing and investigating deep-sea life forced us to redefine and reexamine our theories of life…Life — and the conditions necessary for life to emerge — may not be as rare as we think.

And if this wasn’t exciting enough my long awaited article discussing noodling and evolution is out (finally!) at Mental Floss.

Lincoln Sadler eyes one of his favorite fishing spots, Great Rock, from a distance, but times his approach around an oncoming boat so as not to reveal the rock’s secret location. He has already hiked two miles in the boiling heat of an August North Carolina day followed by two miles of swimming and wading in the Pee Dee River.

Lincoln can wait a moment longer.

He reaches below the water and extends his arm into a dark cavern under the boulder. Enthusiastically wiggling his fingers in a dark underwater hole, Lincoln hopes a catfish bites him. Once Lincoln’s fingers are in the catfish’s mouth, he jerks the beast to the surface.

Near the Arkansas-Oklahoma border where I’m from, we call this noodling. In the Carolinas, the term is hand grabbling. Either way, it ends in a Greco-Roman grappling match where noodlers across the South, like Lincoln, wrestle very large catfish from their underwater holes. But this fishing story started long before Lincoln Sadler began his pilgrimage to Great Rock that August morning.