Free Range Free Chat

Happy Monday News Viewers on the final leg of the 2021 voyage, and it’s been quite a trip; if we’d taken this trip in one of the old Master and Commander war ships, we’d be battling the wind and rain while sailing sideways about now– these waters have not been calm.

Not calm, true, but adventurous, risky — an exploration. Looks like 2022 will be the same — an exploration into new territory. On Christmas Day, the Webb Telescope launched with a promise of viewing new places and times. But space is not the only place left to explore this way.

in fact, we learn from the latest issue of the Smithsonian that the oceans continue to be areas of mystery, ripe for investigation, especially since they may be farmed for future food, viewed for possible habitats and like space, seen as a place full of possibility and risk, a place so far misunderstood and misused but with new ways to begin to see it and to save it..

A humpback whale and her calf swim underwater. A recent study in Nature found whales eat and poop way more than previously thought—and that feces plays an important role in fertilizing the ocean. Auscape / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The year in ocean news brought about quite a few surprises, including the discovery of a self-decapitating sea slug and the return to popularity of sea shanties. (With people all over the world experiencing extended periods of isolation, looming risk and uncertainty, it’s no surprise that sea shanties are back in fashion. For much of maritime history, shanties served to help sailor morale and keep a crew working together in time while at sea.)

Ramari Stewart holding the skull of the newly named Ramari’s beaked whale. Tanya Cumberland

We learned that whales poop a lot more than previously thought and that their excrement is essential for ocean ecosystems, and that even large sharks can glow. Technology allowed us to reach the deepest depths of the oceans, travel to the eye of a hurricane and a whole lot more. In order to remind you of the biggest saltwater moments of the past 12 months, the National Museum of Natural History’s Ocean Portal team has rounded up the ten biggest ocean stories.

The kitefin shark glows in the dark. J Mallefet / UC Louvain / FNRS
The research vessel Kaimei is equipped with a drill for collecting ocean sediment. JAMSTEC
Scientists discovered that slugs riddled with parasites, and without a means to rid themselves of the vermin, shed their bodies and developed new ones from lopped off heads. 

Speaking of losing heads, welcome to Free Range Free Chat,, an open thread where we frequently navigate while searching for people’s brains with all the chatting that’s fit to print. Tell us how it’s going this week post Christmas as we think about entering a new week and a new year, complete with old ideas and new ones and best of all, explorations into the unknown. So let’s talk. What’s on your mind today?

Source: The Smithsonian