Places to Sea!

January 26th, 2012

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the planet’s largest coral reef system located in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland, Australia. 

 A coral reef is an underwater structure formed by coral secretions of calcium carbonate and is home to a wide array of tiny sea creatures including fish, mollusks, worms, crustaceans (such as crabs), and sponges.

The Great Barrier Reef stretches over 2,600 kilometers (1,600 mi) and runs parallel to the coast of Queensland. Considered “One of the World’s Seven Natural Wonders”, it contains over 2,900 individual coral reefs and 900 islands!

The reef can be thought of as the “Rain Forest of the Sea” as it is home to thousands of sea creatures big and small. It is the habitat of endangered species such as the Dugong and the large Green Sea turtle.

Marine visitors to the reef include thirty species of dolphins, whales and porpoises as well as Humpback whales who migrate to the reef every year from cold arctic waters to breed.

Divers can enjoy luscious views of hundreds of vibrant corals and over 1,500 species of  beautiful tropical fish. The beauty of the Great Barrier Reef is preserved by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Although it is a protected area, the Great Barrier Reef still faces environmental threats such as coral bleaching caused by climate change, pollution from run-off, over-fishing, and shipping accidents.

Fun Fact:

Stretching over 1,600 mi, the Great Barrier Reef is larger than the Great Wall of China and can be seen from outer space!

Weekly Cuteness!

January 26th, 2012

Sea•thos- “Hey baby ‘guin.. how’s your winter going?”

Baby penguin- “Stayin’ warm” : )

Photo Caption Contest!!

January 18th, 2012

Hey Everyone!! 
It’s been a while since our last caption contest but we’re back with new stuff! Come up with a caption for the photo below and submit it here or on Facebook. BEST CAPTION WINS A FREE TOTE BAG!!! Captions with the most “likes” on Facebook will be taken into consideration. Contest ends January 27th… Spread the word and Good Luck!!! :)

Sea Creature of the Week!

December 21st, 2011

Leatherback Turtle

Scientific name: Dermochelys coriacea

Home: This enormous marine animal has the largest range of all reptiles and can be can found in tropical, subtropical and even frigid arctic waters around the world. The leatherback spends most of its time in the open seas looking for food. It prefers to mate and nest on beaches adjacent to deeper waters and tends to avoid beaches near coral reefs.

Physical features: The leatherback is the largest of all turtles and can weigh over 2000 lbs. It also has the largest flippers out of all its turtle relatives. They extend out of its tear-shaped body and grow up to 9 feet in length. The leatherback’s other distinguishing characteristic, besides its enormous size, is its lack of bony carapace or hard shell. In lieu of the typical turtle shell our marine friend has a oily leathery osteoderms  (a layer of skin embedded with bony deposits). Its shell is grayish black while its underside tends to be of a lighter hue. The sharp point on it’s beak, the tomium , is what this marine creature uses to rip apart its food. The backwards spines in the back of its throat help it swallow its prey.

Food: The leatherback turtle spend the majority of their day hunting the only thing they like to eat, jellyfish. They eat twice their weight daily! Sadly many times the leatherback mistake plastic debris such as plastic bags and balloons for jellyfish. Even ingesting the slightest amount of plastic can obstruct their digestive tracts and be fatal.

Conservation status: Critically endangered

FunFacts:
• One of the largest threats to the leatherback population is the fact that many people collect its eggs for food! #NotSoFunFact
• The leatherback will travel as far as 12, 000 miles to lay its eggs!
• The Leatherback turtle is one of the deepest diving living mammals. It can reachdepths of over 4,200 ft!


Grains 101

December 16th, 2011

Grains such as brown rice, barely, quinoa and bulgar are not only  widely available, cost effective food choices but healthy and nutritious ones as well. The lack of knowledge of how to properly prepare them, however, has caused many to (mistakenly) believe that it is a difficult task. The truth is it couldn’t be any simpler!  Here are instructions on how to cook a few of the healthiest grains. Keep in mind you can always replace the water with stock or broth to add more flavor.

Barley

Liquid to grain ratio:
1 part barley
3 parts water (broth)

Instructions:
Soak overnight in water (optional)
Bring liquid to a boil
Add water to boiling water and stir
Cover and reduce heat to low until all the liquid is absorbed

Cooking time:
15 minutes for presoaked barley
30-40 minutes otherwise

Tip: Barley makes a delicious side dish which can replace rice for a more exciting dinning experience!

Brown rice

Liquid to grain ratio:
1 part brown rice
2.5 parts water (broth)

Instructions:
Bring liquid and rice to a boil in a covered pot
Once boiled, turn the heat to low and let simmer (still covered) until all the liquid is absorbed

Cooking time: 30-40 minutes

Tip: Do not stir the rice! This will release an excess of starch which will make your rice mushy.

Bulgar

Liquid to grain ratio:
1 part bulgar
2 parts water (broth)

Instructions:
Bring liquid to a boil
Add bulgar to boiling water
Reduce heat to low and let simmer until all the liquid is absorbed

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Tips: Bulgar cook pretty quickly so don’t leave it unattended or you may be minus a pot!

Millet

Liquid to grain ratio:
1 part millet
2 part water (broth)

Instructions:
Heat liquid
Separately, heat one tablespoon of oil (olive, coconut…) in a heavy-bottom skillet (at medium heat)
Add millet  to skillet
Constantly stir grains or shake pan until they begin to change color
Add hot liquid to  and one tablespoon of salt (per cup of grain) to skilled
Increase heat and bring to a boil while stirring
Cover and reduce heat to low
Simmer until all the liquid is absorbed (about 20 minutes)
Remove from heat and let t stand (covered) for 5 minutes
Fluff with a fork before serving

Cooking time:  30-40 minutes

Fun Fact: Millet is one of the least allergenic and most easily digestible grains available! 

Quinoa

Ratio:
1 part quinoa
1.5 parts water

Instructions:
Soak quinoa in water for at least 15 minutes (no longer than 2 hours)
Throughly rinse quinoa in cold water
Bring quinoa and water to a boil
Cover pot and reduce heat
Let simmer until germ separates from seed (looks like tiny ‘curls’ are coming out)
Take off heat and let it stand for 3 minutes

cooking time: 12-15 minutes

Tips: Quinoa that has not been soaked and rinsed has a waxy bitter coating called saponin.

Fun fact: Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain!

*Remember to ALWAYS CLEAN your grains.

Now that you now know the secrets to cooking these delicious and nutritious grains, you can incorpate them into your holiday meal! Happy eating :)


Sea creature of the week!

December 12th, 2011

Great Barracuda

Scientific Name: Sphyraena barracuda

Family: Sphyraenidae

Home: This aggressive marine predator can primarily be spotted at or near the surface of the ocean. The juveniles tend to hang out in mangroves, shallow sheltered inner reef areas and estuaries while the adults venture further out to the open seas. The Great Barracuda is native to subtropical and tropical waters of the Red Sea, the Indo-Pacific region extending from the eastern coast of Africa to the coast of Hawaii as well as to the Eastern and Western Atlantic regions (including the Caribbean Sea).

Characteristics: The Great Barracuda resembles a torpedo with its large pointed head and elongated body. It can reach a length of 6ft and can weigh up to 100 lbs. Its large mouth possesses strong and jagged fang-like teeth. This formidable predator has an extremely powerful jaw with the lower portion sticking out beyond the upper. The coloration of the Great Barracuda ranges from dark green to a silvery blue, often darker lines and blotches cover the sides of its body.

Food: The Great barracuda is a ravenous predator and highly skilled marine hunter. This fearsome creature feeds primarily on fish and cephalopods while occasionally gorging on shrimp.  It utilizes a lie-in-wait or ambush technique to catch its prey. The element of surprise, its relatively fast bursts of speed (up to 27 mph), powerful jaw and  razor-sharp teeth are all contributing factors to Great Barracuda’s success in its quest for food.

Fun Facts:

• Consuming Barracuda meat (even in small amounts) can result in ciguatera food poisoning, a toxin which accumulates from the fish it feeds on!

• When diving in Barracuda infested waters avoid wearing any shiny jeweler since this predator may mistake the glimmer of your watch or ring as its dinner!

• At times, a small group of these fish who are full from their previous meal will stalk a school of prey fish until they are ready for their next feeding!