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Training Fish Like Pavlov’s Dogs

This press release resulted in several placements in the press, including The Baltimore Sun. You’ll find links to several of them below. Striped bass aquaculture would be more productive and cost efficient if we could just call the fish over to one location for feeding, harvesting and the treatment of disease. Arthur N. Popper, professor and chair of Zoology, is studying how to do just that. “What I want to do is straightforward,” says Popper, who is determining if striped bass can hear. If they can, Popper will ascertain if they can be trained to respond to a particular sound in a specific way. His experiment, supported by the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station, is quite simple. First, he will play a three-to five-second pulse of sound underwater in a tank filled with striped bass. Immediately after the sound pulse, food will be dropped at a specific place in the tank.

Hunting Habits of the Great Gray Owl

From atop a perch, a Great Gray Owl launches into a level glide, without a beat of its wings. As it nears its prey — a vole — it virtually stops in midair with a quick flap of its wings to brake. Then he plunges downward. After a death bite to the base of the skull, the vole is swallowed whole. Hunting skills such as these are described in Mason Reid’s 1986-1987 study of Yosemite Great Gray Owls, suported by The Yosemite Fund and others. Yosemite National Park is home to the most Southern population of Great Greys in the world. What is known about this endangered species in boreal forests further North in Europe, Canada and the United States, does not apply to Yosemite. Reid discovered that Yosemite owls hunt only in meadows, make fewer prey captures than elsewhere and in the years of the study had poor breeding

Press Tour at The Marine Mammal Center

While I was an intern at The Marine Mammal Center, I helped out at the Communications department. During that summer, one of our sea lions had been shot and a bullet was removed from its head. When press came to The Center to cover the story, I escorted them. The photographer at the Marine Independent Journal had me hold the bullet for a photo and the resulting picture ended up above the fold on the cover of the paper. You can download a copy of the story here.