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Foul and the sea

July 10, 2019

The wet spring is leading to predictions of a large dead zone from the Mississippi delta. That dead zone is caused by fertilizer and nutrient run-off from the midwest. The algal blooms already are killing Louisiana oysters and closing Mississippi beaches.

How can one not like a post about the evolutionary tug between specialized and more generalized diet (Liam’s paradox), when it has the following snippet:

One example of a cichlid species that has evolved a feeding specialization is Perissodus microlepis. This fish has a curved head, and when it swims alongside a larger fish, it can suddenly attack and snatch a mouthful of scales. The population of this species is split between fish whose head is curved to the left for attacking the right side of its fish prey, and fish whose head is bent rightward to enable an assault on the prey’s left side. Other cichlid feeding specializations include those for scraping algae from rocks, biting out the eyes of other fish, and gobbling eggs knocked out of the mouths of brooding parents.

Anyone a bit familiar with biology is not surprised that there are fish specialized to feeding on the eyeballs of other fish.

I would not have noticed that Disney is making a new mermaid movie, or the silly kerfluffle around its casting, were it not for a Facebook acquaintance pushing some nonsense about cultural appropriation from the Danish. Which overlooks the real problem with any Disney movie on mermaids: it will have a happy ending. Hans Christian Anderson knew what the old Mediterranean people knew. The sea is not a Disney cartoon. Mythical creatures like mermaids represent its risks as much as its attraction. In his story, the mermaid leaves behind heartache and pain. He would care less that Disney casts a black woman in the role, than that that it paints an uplifting tale. If you want a modern movie that hews closer to the rightful mythology, check out The Lure. Yes, that is blood dripping from the lips of one of the mermaids in it, shown above.

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