Ghost Fish

Sea Ghost! Scientists Spot Deepest Living Fish in Mariana Trench
BY ALAN BOYLE    First published December 19th 2014, 2:15 pm

VIDEO at source

Researchers say they have spotted the deepest living fish ever found — a sea ghost of a snailfish that floated past their video camera at a depth of 26,716 feet (8,143 meters) in the Mariana Trench.

This snailfish specimen was recovered from the Mariana Trench at a depth of about 7,500 meters (24,600 feet). One of the expedition’s remotely operated vehicles captured video of a snailfish at even greater depths.

Image: Snailfish



The expedition team, led by University of Hawaii marine scientists Jeff Drazen and Patty Fryer, say the white translucent fish with winglike fins and an eel-like tail represents a previously unknown variety of deep-sea creature.

Several records for deepest living fish, either caught or seen on video, were broken during this month’s trip, the expedition’s organizers said Thursday in a news release.

“When findings and records such as these can be broken so many times in a single trip, we really do get the feeling we are at the frontier of marine science,” said the University of Aberdeen’s Alan Jamieson, a member of the international Hadal Ecosystems Studies expedition, or HADES.

Doug Bartlett, a marine biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of California of San Diego who participated in an earlier HADES expedition, said the deepest-fish claim was merited. “Drazen and collegues have obtained the deepest fish yet recovered,” he told NBC News in an email.

For the past month, the HADES team has been plumbing the depths of the Western Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench from the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel Falkor. The team sent remotely operated vehicles down to depths ranging from 16,404 to 34,777 feet (5,000 to 10,600 meters), to characterize the ecosystems at different levels in what’s known as the ocean’s hadal zone.

“Many studies have rushed to the bottom of the trench, but from an ecological view, that is very limiting,” Drazen explained in the news release. “It’s like trying to understand a mountain ecosystem by only looking at its summit.”

This snailfish specimen was recovered from the Mariana Trench at a depth of about 7,500 meters (24,600 feet). One of the expedition’s remotely operated vehicles captured video of a snailfish at even greater depths.
The expedition brought up supergiant amphipods from the 5,000-meter depth, as well as volcanic glass and other rock samples from the inner slope of the trench. The team said those samples were left behind by some of the earliest volcanic eruptions of the Mariana island arc, and should shed fresh light on the geology of the trench system.

The deepest dives in crewed underwater vehicles were made in the Mariana Trench in 1960 by Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh in the Trieste (to about 35,814 feet); and in 2012 by film director James Cameron in the Deepsea Challenger (to about 35,756 feet).

After his dive, Cameron said he didn’t see any fish. “The only free swimmers I saw were small amphipods. … The bottom was completely featureless,” he told National Geographic.


Unusual Christmas Poem



A Christmas Tree

                                If you are
                      A love compassionate,
                You will walk with us this year.
        We face a glacial distance, who are here
                     Huddled at your feet.
William Burford

Ice Volcanoes

From Susan:

Ice volcanoes

Today, we’ve got a video of an “ice volcano” near Green Bay and an orange tornado in Oklahoma.  VIDEO

The ice volcano video was shot recently by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The folks in the video also call it a snow-cano, but here’s how it was described on their Facebook page:

“These are called ice volcanoes. A shell of ice forms and a weak spot is exploited by the wave action, creating a hole. Then, a volcano-like structure forms around the hole from the water being sprayed from the top.”


I’ve seen places on a rocky seashore where waves would roll in under the rocks and then blow up from below.  Much like you see here.  Maybe 20 feet high.   rjn


Hospice Encounters

A few years back, I was asked to stand in for a hospice volunteer who was going on a four-week vacation.  She had been covering five patients in a nursing home.  I set out to meet them the first time, explaining to each that I was taking Melody’s place for a while.  I found the first one in the sitting room reading a newspaper.  I went up, introduced myself and explained why I was there.  She turned, looked at me, and went back to her paper.  I waited a bit and then asked her if she was reading anything interesting.  This time she put paper down and sort of scowled.  As it worked out eventually she came to believe that I was her son-in-law and I let her (I don’t mean I started calling her “mom” or anything.  It just made things easier).  I took her for walks outdoors in her wheelchair and we spent a lot of time in front of an aquarium.   She couldn’t get enough of the fish.  Patient #1 worked out fine.

Patient #2 and #3 I just could not connect with (dementia).  They just wanted to be left alone.  So I left them alone.

Patient #4 was a Polish lady in a private room with her underwear draped over the back of the chair I would normally sit in.  I remained standing.  She was suspicious of who I was and exactly what I was asking of her.   We talked a little but she did not want to leave the room for walks or anything.  I saw her a few times and then, a week or two later I happened to be walking down the hall and saw her sitting alone in her room in a big overstuffed chair, staring out into space.  I stopped at the open door and said, “Hi Mary, how is it going today?” and went in.  She started complaining of how she was constantly being disturbed.  The aides came in all the time, the nurses came in to take her blood pressure and temperature, the maintenance people came in to vacuum and someone else came in to make the bed, and someone else came in to tell her about some event taking place and would she like to go.  Nobody ever left her alone.  She said, “Then there is always somebody stopping at my door saying, “Hi Mary, how is it going today?”  She wasn’t really trying to be rude – it was just the last time she remembered being bothered by someone.  I thought it was hilarious.

Patient #5, a little woman, was all curled up in a chair in her room, crippled from MS or Muscular Dystrophy.  Arms and legs turned in unnatural positions.  I went in and introduced myself and explained that I was taking Melody’s place for a few weeks.   She just stared at me – no emotion, no smile, no movement, nothing.  I happened to have my guitar with me and asked her if she would like me to play a song.   Again, no response at all; a blank poker face looking me right in the eye, sort of like Dirty Harry.  I got the guitar out anyway and played a song with no response.  No movement to the rhythm of the song, no recognition, nothing but this blank Dirty Harry stare.  So I packed up my guitar and left.

A day or two later, I reappeared to try again.  She was in the same chair, arms and legs curled up.  I said, “Hi Deborah, I was here a day or two ago.  How are you?”  Nothing.  No glimmer of recognition, eyes just as blank as pools of black water.  Then she moved her mouth.  She was trying to tell me something, but I could not make it out.  Her voice was very weak, her words unintelligible.  She was having a tough time physically trying to talk, but she definitely was trying to tell me something.  I went to the nursing station and asked if there was anyone around tuned in to Deborah in room 215. I said that she was trying to tell me something but I couldn’t make it out – and there actually was someone who could communicate with her.

I returned to the room and Deborah continued to glare at me.  I got the feeling she was actually sort of hostile.  A few minutes later, an aide came in and said, “Deborah, what are you trying to say to your friend?”  The aide put her ear right next to Deborah’s mouth, listened, and then without straightening up, she turned sideways to me and said “SHE WANTS YOU TO GO AWAY!”

I left the room and was walking down the hall laughing.  I met my coordinator and it was all I could do to get the story out, so funny!


I am in a hospice meeting with 40-50 other volunteers  (five guys) and we are  encouraged to talk about our patients.  So this fellow next to me starts telling how he bought some roses for his patient when he discovered she liked flowers, and how the family came in and they all loved him and said how wonderful he was . He said he thought he had developed a good  relationship with the  patient and caregiver.

I couldn’t help myself.  I raised my hand and said I too had developed a relationship with my patient.  I told the group about “SHE WANTS YOU TO GO AWAY!” and the whole class fell apart laughing.

George Lynch

With Elmer


What is Hospice?  Hospice is about making the most of every moment. It is not a physical place or type of treatment.  It is a patient-centered concept of care available to those with life-limiting illnesses.  It is a multidisciplinary approach to pain and symptom management rather than acute care.


Another member of our family is a hospice volunteer, my brother Patrick.  This is a story of his.   rjn


I sit between the labored, rattling breath of a dying man and the gentle hum of an electric heater, all else quiet and still. I’m visiting a home in a neighborhood that most white people wouldn’t drive through, much less occupy for a couple of hours.  This is what I am called to, what I volunteered for; to be with this remnant of a man. He doesn’t even know I’m here.

I’m a hospice patient care volunteer.  I’m not here so much for Elmer (not his real name) as for his wife to give her a rest.  She’s gone to an appointment for her own medical care, and would not have been able to get away without someone to stay with her husband.

As most hospice patients, Elmer is “DNR” – do not resuscitate.  His breathing is so labored and irregular I could encounter the first death on my watch today.  I’ve been trained for this. I know what to do.  Be calm.   Call the Hospice office.  Call his wife.  But when the time comes for him, will I be able to be the final human comfort of his life?  Will he go off to his eternity knowing someone cared?  That’s kind of an awesome responsibility!  The last contact after a lifetime of 90 years or so!  How blessed I am to have that opportunity.  God give me the grace to be up to it.

I often think of my nephew Joey, who was holding my mother’s hand when she died. That was so appropriate.  She loved Joey.  He told me she seemed to open her eyes and smile a little and then let go.  I think of her going off into eternity, Joey the last she saw and felt.  That gives me enormous comfort.

It’s actually because of Joey’s dad, Joe, that I’m here – that I volunteer with Coastal Hospice of Maryland.  Joe, my brother-in-law, died of ALS a number of years ago.  Carol, my sister, told me that their local hospice folks had been wonderful and had made his last months so much better for both. I was truly fond of Joe, and serving Hospice seems to be a way of paying back and doing something for Joe, somehow

High End of Dallas–Photo

In this aerial photo, downtown Dallas is enveloped in morning fog. 12.9.14 AP   source In this aerial photo, downtown Dallas is enveloped in morning fog, Dec. 9, 2014 In this aerial photo, downtown Dallas is enveloped in morning fog, Dec. 9, 2014.In this aerial photo, downtown Dallas is enveloped in morning fog, Dec. 9, 2014PHOTO: In this aerial photo, downtown Dallas is enveloped in morning fog, Dec. 9, 2014.

Hospice Story


HOSPICE is a professional program to support terminally ill people and their families medically and emotionally,  to make the end of life as comfortable and stress-free as possible.  Volunteers like George Lynch contribute to the effectiveness of local hospice agencies.

George remembers his relationship with a hospice patient in a nursing home:

Helen always sits in the reception area right inside the main door to the facility.  She is renowned as a negative person and I have tried to cheer her up.

Me:  How are you today?

Helen:  Terrible.

Me:  Are you in physical discomfort or just have the blahs?

Helen:  I feel okay.

Me:  I see you sitting out here practically every day.  Do you like to watch the people come in and out?

Helen:  No.

Me:  Then why do you sit here?

Helen:  Cause it is too damn hot in my room.  I could be at home but my children don’t want me there.

Me:  They are probably concerned for your safety.

Helen:  Humph!

Me:  It might not be really great to be here but at least here you are safe.

Helen:  Safe?  Have you seen some of the crazies around this place?

Me:  Well, you have people available to take care of you 24 hours a day, right?

Helen:  They pay them to do that.  What do you do over here anyway?  Do you work here?

Me:  No, I’m a volunteer.

Helen:  Are you paid?

Me:  No.

Helen:  You come over here to talk to people and you are not paid?

Me: No.

Helen:  Why would you want to do that?

Me:  God wants me to.

Helen (suspicious): Does your wife know you are over here doing this?  You have an office over here, I’ve seen you go in it.

Me:  Where?

Helen:  Right around the corner.

Me:  I go in there only to leave my jacket so I don’t have to carry it around with me.

Helen:  I see you go in there when you come and when you go.

Me:  Right. I don’t work in there.  I just leave my stuff in there.

We are sitting behind a table where there is a silent auction being prepared.  There are two bottles of wine on the table in front of us.

Me:  You know what Helen?  I’m going to take a $20 bill and put it on the table and grab those two bottles of wine and give one to you.  We’ll sit here and drink them.

Helen:  I don’t drink! We’re watching people come through the main door.

Me:    You know what you should do Helen?

Helen:  What?

Me:  You should pray for everyone that comes through that door.

Helen (incredulous): Why would I do that, I don’t even know them.

Me:  Well, it would be a nice thing to do.  Just think “God Bless You”.  You don’t have to say it out loud.

Helen:  I don’t know any of them, what kind of problems they have, let them work them out themselves.


Helen:  I don’t know why I can’t die.  Every morning I wake up feeling better than the day before.  I’ll probably hang around this place for another five years. I’d starve myself to death but I like to eat. We sit there in the lobby for maybe ten minutes without saying a word.

Suddenly she turns to me.

Helen: Tell me again why you come over here?

Thanks, George.  I hope you’ll have more hospice stories for us.   rjn

Good Bits and Nice Pieces

I think we’ll try running a feature that offers a special passage from an interesting source.  This idea comes out an email conversation with George Lynch who provides this first Good Bit, taken from the wonderful children’s book, Stuart Little by E.B. White.

In the loveliest town of all, where the houses were white and high and the elm trees were green and higher than the houses, where the front yards were wide and pleasant and the back yards were bushy and worth finding out about,  where the streets sloped down to the stream and the stream flowed quietly under the bridge, where the lawns ended in orchards and the orchards ended in fields and the fields ended in pastures and the pastures climbed the hill and disappeared over the top toward the wonderful wide sky, in this loveliest of all towns, Stuart stopped to get a drink of sarsaparilla.

Isn’t it pretty?  And funny at the end– Stuart Little is a mouse born to human parents. White is the author of Charlotte’s Web and good stuff for adults too.         rjn

StuartLittle.jpgFirst edition, 1945   Wikipedia