About those fish...
12 October 2017 | 1:46 pm

A couple of weeks ago...

I posted a few fishy pictures with the cryptic question "Have any ideas where these are, or where I am?" 

The SearchResearchers rose to the Challenge and were able to identify my location pretty well!  

Regular Reader Chris wrote in that: 

Picture 1 looks like some sort of Serranid- I'm guessing an Anthias which are widespread in the South Pacific, but it doesn't look like the endemic species for Fiji, but comparing google image searches for [anthias fiji] and [antihas vanuatu] tends to lean towards Fiji as the location 
Picture 2 is a Clown fish- once again could be anywhere in South Pacific- The yellow colour is different to what I normally see in Australia 
Picture 3 I don't recognise- maybe a clown fish again - I'm guessing this is the one that identifies the island group 
Picture 4 is a yellow tail fusilier - very common in both Vanuatu and Fiji

While Remmij and Ramón both identified the fish and the geography those fish cover.  They also figured it out as Fiji, but Remmij went on to check species co-occurence by trying to figure out what kind of anemone that particular anemone-fish was living with.  

That's a great strategy, and if I'd thought about it, I would have included a better picture of the anemone (which would have helped identify it).  

Alas, this particular anemonefish, Clark's Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii) happens to be pretty undiscriminating:  "Clark's anemonefish is the least host specific anemonefish, living in association with all ten species of sea anemones that host anemonefish..."  

The SearchResearchers are superb.  Excellent job. 

But here's what I would have done:  I would have saved all of the images to my desktop and noticed that they look like this: 

Truthfully, I'd forgotten that I'd left all of the filenames on the images, so that when you saved them, you'd see all of the identifying information.  

You correctly identified the Anthius in pic #1, and the Clark's anemonefish in #2.  The anemonefish in #3 is a "Fiji anemonefish" (Amphiprion barberi), although in this case the color is a bit off, so it's difficult to tell.  

The "fusiliers on parade" are, in fact, Blue and Yellow Fusiliers (Caesio teres). 

And, when you look at all of these different fish geographical range, it's pretty much narrowed down to Fiji.  

Remmij is correct--we were on the island of Taveuni, which is a very well-known dive location, home to the Somosomo Strait, and one of the world's best locations to see soft corals, which I didn't include in this set of images--I thought it would be too much of a give-away!

But here's a bit of video from our dives that gives a great sense of what it was like.  Listen carefully--you'll hear humpback whales singing in the background! 

Great job, SearchResearchers! 


SearchResearch Challenge (10/11/17): How many people die each year in the US?
11 October 2017 | 2:24 pm

I don't mean to be macabre,

..but it's nearly both Halloween and the Día de los muertos. They're coming up fast during this time of the year.  Naturally, that makes me think about those souls that have passed on before us, and being a naturally inquisitive person, I wonder about how it is that people die... in general.  Do you know off-hand?  I don't.  

Before you answer that question, give it a thought:  What's your intuition about this?  In the US, what fraction of people die from car accidents?  It is as much as 10% of all deaths in a year?  15%?  Or is it as low as 2%?  How many people die from other kinds of accidents, like falls from a high ladder or slipping on a banana peel?  Is that a significant fraction, or is it less than 1%?  

What of different medical conditions?  What fraction of people die from heart attacks vs. cancer vs. infections?  Which is a higher proportion of all deaths--medical causes or accidental causes?  I realize I don't know the answers to these questions, even though it's an important piece of data to know.   

This week we have just two questions: 

1. How many people die (from all causes) each year in the United States?  

2. What are the top 5 causes of death in the United States?  (As a fraction of the whole.)  

The real SearchResearch question here is going to be a somewhat tricky data source problem: Where do you get your data from, and why do you believe it's accurate?  

For instance, if you do this query on different search platforms, you get very different answers: 
Google: 2.47 million 
Wolfram Alpha:  2.67 million
Bing: 2.65 million (they don't answer it directly, but I did the math based on the data they show)

That's a difference of 200,000 between Alpha and Google, which is slightly more than the population of Akron, Ohio!  How's that possible? What's going on?   

(An interesting contrast: Google says that there are approximately 4M births / year in the US; Bing gives the same answer, while Alpha claims there are 4.24M births each year.  240,000 birthdays is a big variation!)  

Let us know what you find out... and just as important, HOW you figured out the answer.  What sources do you seek out?  Do you trust them?  How much do you know about the methods they used to collect the data?  

Search on!  

Answer: The story behind these bodies of water? (Part 2)
10 October 2017 | 9:17 pm

And now, the exciting conclusion!  

4.  There's a story about the lake below that predates its existence.  Before the lake was formed by building a dam, what was here?  And why would they build a lake on top of it?
To solve this one, you need to first do a Search-By-Image (a search method we've covered before), and you'll find that this is the Altus reservoir (aka Lake Altus-Lugert near King Mountain, Oklahoma.  A quick search for: 
     [ underwater town lake Altus ] 
tells us that under the water lies the former town of Lugert.  Founded in 1902, Lugert (named for German immigrant Frank Lugert) was destroyed by a tornado on April 27, 1912.  When the reservoir runs dry, you can can see the old foundations of the houses which used to stand in the area. 
In 1926, the nearby city of Altus passed a bond measure to build a dam across the North Fork of the Red River as a source of city water, flooding the town of Lugert. The dam was completed in 1947. Not one to quit, Frank Lugert rebuilt his buildings and moved his General Store next to the lake and ran it until a few years before his death in 1958.
There are several interesting videos documenting the town of Lugert.  Here's one (with a lot of wind noise), but it's a fascinating walkthrough of the site: 

5.  Same question as before:  What WAS here... but now you have to cast your search skills back 10,000 years.  What was in this location 10,000 years ago, and why is that interesting?   (This is at lat/long 54.83333333,  2.333333333)

This is a bit of an odd question:  What WOULD have been in the middle of the North Sea 10,000 years ago?  Luckily, more than a few people have written about this topic.  My query was: 
     [ North sea 10000 years ago ] 
This query leads quickly to a bunch of articles about Doggerland, an area now beneath the southern North Sea that connected Great Britain to continental Europe during and after the last glacial period.
It was flooded by rising sea levels around 6,500–6,200 BCE. Geological surveys have suggested that it stretched from Britain's east coast to the Netherlands, western Germany, and Denmark. Most likely, it was an area with extensive habitation in the Mesolithic period. Rising sea levels gradually reduced it to low-lying islands before its final submergence, possibly following a tsunami caused by the Storegga Slides
This area would have been a region of fairly flat lowlands, maybe with ponds, and certainly with people and wildlife.  To this day, fishing trawlers still pull up bits of human artifacts and pieces of wood from the forests that were drowned back then.  

Search Lessons 

1. Zooming around a map can find all kinds of things.  In the first Challenge, just zooming out a bit and looking around let us figure out that the strange vertically aligned ponds were all cooling ponds at Turkey Point.  Don't underestimate the value of just looking around.  As Yankee's catcher Yogi Berra famously said, "You can observe a lot by watching."  (His book.)  But remember... 

2.  Different zoom levels will show different layers of information.  If you zoom out too far, the label of the nuclear plant won't show up (but you'll see the name of the state).  If you zoom in too far, the state name information will be hidden, but you'll see the name of the local watery features (e.g., the name of the nearby bay, "Card Bay").  

3. Validate, validate, validate!  As we learned in the Nutrex spirulina pond example, there can be multiple owners (and multiple reasons) for long, narrow ponds.  In this case, we had to look carefully at the map, then search for other sources of information about what each of the nearby companies did. In this example, finding a YouTube video that was a guided tour of the Nutrex facility gave us enough visual information to confirm that what we saw actually were Nutrex bacteria-growing ponds.  

Tomorrow, I'll talk about the fish images a bit, and pose a new Challenge!  

Search on! 

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