Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 23 Issue 02

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Volume 23, No. 2
Pages 10 - 13


RIPPLE MARKS • Canyon "Ghost" Critical to Stream Ecosystems: Cougars Act as Guardians of Fish, Frogs | "Wavelet" Math Translates Whale Song into Art | Fire in the Sky, Smoke in the Water: Queen of American Lakes Under Siege from Fireworks Displays? | Jellyfish "Blooms" Signal Ailing Seas Ahead: Jellywatchers Help Scientists Track Locations

By Cheryl Lyn Dybas  
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Canyon "Ghost" Critical to Stream Ecosystems: Cougars Act as Guardians of Fish, Frogs

The ghost cat, it's been called, this feline that roams backcountry from the Yukon to Chile. It has dozens of names, from panther, to puma, to mountain lion. But its best descriptor, perhaps, is cougar.

The word comes from a term meaning "false deer," an ancient phrase coined by the Tupi. These long-ago Amazonians, according to Jerry Kobalenko in his book Forest Cats of North America, had an instinctive understanding of a modern scientific idea: a predator evolves to blend into the habitat of its prey.

"Wavelet" Math Translates Whale Song into Art

Wavelets, they're called, but they're not the kind that gently lap onto shore. These wavelets create a kind of science-art, one that depicts the haunting songs of whales and dolphins.

In this setting, wavelets are mathematical functions that parse data into different frequencies. "They have advantages over other methods of analyzing signals with sharp spikes," says Mark Fischer. Such spikes, he says, are characteristic of whale and dolphin music.

Fire in the Sky, Smoke in the Water: Queen of American Lakes Under Siege from Fireworks Displays?

A few Sundays from now, Americans across the nation will look skyward, awed by Fourth of July fireworks displays. If those fireworks explode over lakes, rivers, and other waterways, the scene might not be so pretty.

What goes up must come down. And it's coming down laden with chemicals like perchlorate, a propellant used in fireworks. While most of the perchlorate combusts, all of it does not, with perchlorate raining over the land—and water. The water may be where the problem lies.

Jellyfish "Blooms" Signal Ailing Seas Ahead: Jellywatchers Help Scientists Track Locations

Once a month, on the darkest nights near the new moon, otherworldly beings emerge from Pacific Ocean depths and drift onto the beaches of Hawaii. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of these quivering masses of jelly float in with the night tide. Near shore, time grows short to complete their mission: to reproduce, leaving behind miniature versions of themselves fastened with a glue-like substance to reefs and rocks in the shallows.

Box jellyfish, the invaders are called. They come in with unbelievably precise timing, and when they do, they're in a frenzy to reach their destination. Most jellies just float along, but box jellyfish actually swim. Like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, they seem to be saying, "I'm late, I'm late."


Dybas, C.L. 2010. Ripple marks—The story behind the story. Oceanography 23(2):10–13, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2010.54.

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