Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Homage to Oysters

Global pleasure is the overarching goal of this blog, and as a reminder, my definition is : that global pleasure is the sum of all the pleasures of all the living species worldwide, including humans and oysters.

The last five posts have been about oysters as aphrodisiacs, but to me that is only interesting because oysters are one of the best sea-foods from every perspective:  evocative, top protein,  among the most provocative of all possible menu choices, and not least,  oysters can be rightly considered a best choice for food aphrodisiac. Aphrodisiacs by definition heighten sexual activity, and while not everyone is turned on by the sight of a raw oyster on the menu, many are. The disclosed virgin rawness is a stimulant for almost everyone. While losing some nutritional value, cooked oysters in bisques or as grilled appetizers are also most rewarding.

For the rationales on the above conclusion that oysters are aphrodisiacs, see the last few posts. From an ecological perspective, (this blog is all about facilitating ecological choices by consumers and producers) oysters are at risk of becoming extinct. Unlike many other sea foods that can be farmed with varying degrees of success, most oyster production relies on pumping in sea water from nearby oceanic sources. The ocean is acidifying. Oysters build their shells out of calcium carbonate, which dissolves in acidic waters. So oysters are threatened by the climate change that is expressed as ocean acidification. Is a future without oysters on the horizon? Unless enough consumers and producers make better ecological choices, that is likely.

Net, to celebrate Valentine's Day with a memorable meal, I suggest a Mediterranean-style seafood dish for consumers who dwell in a Mediterranean climate, namely Santa Barbara, and a local wine produced by a wine-maker committed to sustainable production: Stolpman Sangiovese. The next series of posts will focus on local sustainable wine-making.

A Seafood Blend for any Holiday


  • 20 market squid, all local, tubes and tentacles, cleaned
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb, diced
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1/2 bunch fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon loosely packed saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and cut into strips
  • 6 baby fennel bulbs, halved
  • 1/2 bunch fresh thyme, chopped
  • 10 fresh Pacific oysters in shells, well scrubbed
  • 10 scallops
  • 20 fresh mussels
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 sprigs parsley or cilantro for garnish


  1. Soak squid in milk for 1 to 5 hours.Strain squid,  discard the milk.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, onions, carrots, tomatoes, and diced fennel. Cook and stir till vegetables soften. Stir in tomato paste; cook  10 minutes.
  3. Pour in wine. Increase heat to high. 
  4. When mixture comes to a boil, add chicken stock, parsley or cilantro, tarragon, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, and saffron. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, and simmer until the liquid has reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Strain out the liquid, and discard the solids.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add sun-dried tomatoes and fennel; cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the strained saffron broth and chopped thyme; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Place oysters on top of the fennel, cover, and cook for 1 minute. Set the mussels into the pot, cover, and cook until the shellfish begin to open, about 4 minutes. Stir in the drained squid, recover, and cook for 1 minute, just until the squid firms.
  6. While the shellfish are cooking, season the scallops with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Whee the pan is  hot, add the scallops. Cook over high heat until they develop an even, rich brown crust, 2 to 3 minutes maximum per sid, depending on size. As soon as the inside of the scallop is white not pinkish then immediately remove from heat and transfer the scallops to a plate.
  7. Pour the fennel-seafood mixture onto a serving platter and place the scallops on top. Garnish with parsley or cilantro sprigs.
 Best local sources for aquacultured oysters, scallops,  and mussels: 

The next series of posts will be about ecologically sustainable restauarants in Santa Barbara County.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Upshot: Will eating Oysters Enhance Sexual Activity

This is the conclusion to the series on oysters as aphrodisiacs: good or bad science, started on January 27.

First, as a conclusionary statement, oysters are among the foods most likely to support high levels of sexual activity, both desire and performance. Everything being equal, eat oysters, enjoy good sex.

Second, eating oysters won't guarantee great sex.  Most often, everything is not equal. Human beings are too complex for such a simple equation. A simple equation might read:

Expectations for good sex by all involved,  plus bodily requirements, plus inputs enhancing attitude, expectations, desires, ambiance, and requirements, may well result in good sex.

The principal arguments for oysters as aphrodisiacs have all been addressed in the last two week's posts.
1) According to the dopamine hypothesis, since oysters have been found with elevated levels of dopamine, eating oysters will increase dopamine production in humans. As stated, untrue. Dopamine cannot pass the blood-brain barrier; it must be manufactured in the brain according to brain requirements. However, oysters do provide the human body with chemicals that are precursors to dopamine production in the brain, which is where motivation is parsed according to predicted reward. Oysters do provide the  amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine, used to synthesize several catecholamines, among which dopamine is one.

As indicated in the dopamine January 27 post, there will be competition in the body at the cell level, whereby cells will try to pull out amino acids before they even reach the BBB, but if they arrive and are transported, then dopamine production can be said to be supported by oysters. Further, something must be triggered in the reward-seeking system to activate further production and release of dopamine, such as the expectation of reward, based on previous experience/knowledge. Also as previously indicated, dopamine is not so much about liking something but more about wanting, seeking, and anticipating.

The third hypothesis is basic nutrition; if oysters contain zinc, then eating oysters can supply this element as a nutrient. Zinc is involved in sperm production as well as other metabolic processes that require zinc. So eating oysters can provide zinc, which is instrumental in sperm production.

The second hypothesis concerns two chemicals found in clams and mussels that were linked in one experiment in 2005 to heightened sexual activity in rats. No experiments involved either oysters or humans. So this hypothesis is so far not well supported by evidence.

 Net: oysters are a great food choice if good sex is the main driver for menu decision-making. Oysters will not guarantee good sex, but if all the other parameter requirements are met, oysters are a great choice for the menu component of a sexual process. Remember, just thinking that oysters are aphrodisiacs supports sexual activity.

To me this subject is surpassingly interesting, because it deals not only with how external stimuli affect human bodily functioning, not only with how mind affects the way the body works (i.e., consciousness), but also how culture impacts all of this and how altogether they affect what happens on a second to second basis for a specific event. What goes on in the brain and what goes on in the rest of the body as well as the culture can be illuminated through the lens of "eating oysters for aphrodisiac outcomes". What we see and smell and touch, what we anticipate and imagine, are all part of the reward system that helps us engage in activities that have previously promoted survival, mating, and reproduction.

This blog is titled "reward in the cognitive niche"  to cue readers that I am especially concerned not only with species in the cognitive niche, e.g., Homo sapiens, but I am also concerned with prime motivators of this particular species, namely reward. I think for individuals in relatively developed counties, using a modified version of Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs model, more people are motivated by reward than by fear of deprivation of basic needs. Of course there are exceptions, especially at this recessionary time in history. But as a rule, if you reside in the cogntive niche, your sources of pleasure extend way beyond just acquisition of the target (e.g., eating good food). Cognitive species are rewarded by anticipating, imagining, inventing, remembering, and so much more that relates to pleasurable experience.

Reward can be translated into the human experience of pleasure attained both when an activity is anticipated or when it has been consummated.  Pleasure can be seen as the reward humans get for engaging in activities that have, over evolutionary time, resulted in the likelihood of the survival of a species. All of the "oysters as aphrodisiacs" hypotheses relate to anticipated reward. The sight, taste, and smell of oysters trigger dopamine circuits, primed to anticipate and facilitate the attainment of experiences that have proven rewarding, from evolutionary perspectives, over evolutionary time.

Dopamine has been a critical neurochemical in this "oysters as aphrodisiacs" series of five posts. Dopamine can be summarized as the tag for experiences that have resulted in positive outcomes, evaluated from an evolutionary perspective. A good looking oyster (healthy, nutrient-rich, raw and unspoiled by processing) triggers dopamine release. If all the required ingredients for further dopamine production are present in the body, the release will continue. Oysters provide many of the elements required for dopamine production, which affects motivation and desire, and sexual performance, the object of desire.

Dopamine is not really about pleasure; it is more about motivation, seeking, and finding events that have previously been associated with good feelings. While dopamine does is predict rewarding events, more importantly, it assigns values to events that are part of a global valuing system oriented towards species survival and helps us prioritize what has been really important to us as individuals and species. If something is extensively linked to feelings of pleasure, it will dominate both conscious and unconscious processes and emerge as a dominant driver of action.

Speaking for myself: when I see oysters I am triggered sensually. Oysters are slurpy; briny, protected but in this moment disclosed; primitive; tasty; raw, companionable, hand-fed, and more. If I eat raw oysters with a companion, I feel connected in a primitive, promising ritual, not necessarily sexual. Wild oysters are WILD! They suggest the time when the ocean was the infinite unknown. Like caviar until very recently, oysters suggest the infinite rewards of the "just-for the-moment" disclosed unknown.

So to summarize the first research: while eating oysters with elevated dopamine will not necessarily elevate dopamine in humans, since dopamine does not pass the blood-brain barrier, oysters will provide the critical precursors to production of dopamine in the brain. and these precursors can pass the blood brain barrier. If everything else is in place for increased dopamine production, oysters will provide critical ingredients ( for increased dopamine.

Raw oysters are great foods: complete proteins, rich in the two key amino acids that are precursors of dopamine: tyrosine and phenylalanine. Eating raw oysters supplies a healthy functioning body with all the proteins that will be broken down to provide most of what is required  physiologically for normal desired sexual outcomes. The key precursor of dopamine is the amino acid tyrosine, potentially available to brain and body through eating raw oysters. Tyrosine is classified as a non-essential nutrient, since it can be synthesized in both brain and body in addition to being acquired through diet. However, the main amino acid from which tyrosine is synthesized is acquired only from diet: namely, phenylalanine. Both phenylalanine and tyrosine are found in oysters.

Eating oysters will increase the likelihood that the chemical elements required for heightened sexual activit (drive) are made available.

The second "D-aspartic acid (D-Asp) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)" hypothesis is not yet supported by science.  Research was on clams and mussels, not oysters, and related to sexual activity in rats, not humans. See this post for a breakdown.

The third, zinc hypothesis, that eating oysters enhances male performance (with a baseline of impotence) is supported by evidence. Oysters are rich in zinc, necessary to many metabolic processes, including production of sperm.

In sum, oysters are an outstanding choice of a food that supports, both mentally and physically,  heightened sexual activity. That said, oysters consumption will not guarantee anything more than the rich pleasures of anticipating as well as rewarding consumption.

Since this blog has a Central Coast context, my recommendations for a best local source for oysters is

Santa Barbara Mariculture Company
721 1/2 West Valerio Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101


The next post, Feb 14,  features two wine recommendations and two recipes for ecologically sustainable best of the best recipes.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Are oysters the seafood Viagra?

This is the next to last of the oysters as aphrodisiacs series started in January, with blogs on oysters as a source of global pleasure (Jan 28), the Jan 28 post on oysters as iconic aphrodisiac, which addresses the dopamine hypothesis, the post on the D-aspartic acid and NMDA hypothesis that "Eating molluscs increases the release of sexual hormones in humans" and increases desire and subsequent sexual activity/bivalve  hypothesis, and the zinc-virility hypothesis, today's topic. Tomorrow's post is conclusionary,and considers all aspects of the claim for oysters as aphrodisiacs, including visually and imaginatively sourced influences.

The zinc for male virility hypothesis posits the claim that eating oysters increases male virility. Virility can be interpreted broadly, as maleness, which usually includes strength, vigor, sexual desire, and sexual performance, or more narrowly, which requires sperm capable of reproductive ends, that is, no blanks.

The zinc hypothesis is the real deal: good science, based on how nutrition affects bodily functioning, including male sexual performance. The primary nutrient basis for this claim is that a serious zinc deficiency has been linked with impotence, and oysters are among the highest food sources of zinc. This claim is well supported by one simple fact: the body requires certain chemicals, 60 or so, to function. Some of the most common are oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. Zinc is a trace mineral, required in relatively small quantities, nonetheless critical. Over 80 minerals are required by the human body for optimal functioning. 

Chemicals are elements or compounds of elements. Some can be synthesized in the body, in varying amounts, but not necessarily sufficient for normal functioning, and others must be acquired from diet, either entirely or supplementary to what the body can synthesize. Essential nutrients are chemicals required by the body for normal functioning that must be obtained from food sources:  vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats (essential fatty acids), water and oxygen. The element oxygen, as one example of a chemical required for functioning, is taken into the body by breathing and drinking water or from foods containing water (H20). Calcium is acquired through food. Nitrogen, critical to the formation of amino acids, which are the basis of proteins and cells, is found in many organic molecules, including the amino acids that make up proteins, and the nucleic acids that make up DNA. Foods called complete proteins provide the body with all the essential nutrients, among which zinc is important especially for reproduction, but also for best functioning by systems such as the immune system.

Some categories of essential nutrients include vitamins, dietary minerals, essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids. Oysters supply both essential nutrients and also chemical componds esentail to critical systems such as the dopamine-seeking/motivational system, as considered in the post on the dopamine hypothesis.

Different species have different requirements for essential nutrients. Most mammals, as a relevant example, can synthesize their own ascorbic acid, but humans can not, so require external sources of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Some mammals, such as rats and mice, do not require Vitamin C for normal functioning. Such differences are important when the results from experiments on rats are generalized to humans (see last post)

Oysters are complete proteins, providing all the essential nutrients that can be supplied by proteins and one of the best if not the best food sources for zinc. A dinner-sized serving of 10 raw oysters provide 55.13 mg of the essential nutrient zinc, or about 100 mg per gram of raw oyster. This is more than the minimum required by either men  (11 mg) or women (8 mg.).  Both men and women need to acquire zinc through diet. Zinc is needed by males for both healthy prostate glands and also to replace seminal fluid. Evidence also supports the need for zinc by women for both reproduction and mental function, and since zinc is not stored, pregnancy in particular increases a woman's need for zinc. 

Foods high in zinc affect the following, all of which affect sexual activity: Zinc helps balance blood sugar; Stabilizes metabolic rate; prevents a  weakened immune system; Support optimal sense of smell and taste. The first research studies to demonstrate zinc's important in the diet focused on the issue of growth. When foods did not supply sufficient amounts of zinc, young men in Iran and Egypt were found to have impaired overall growth as well as impaired sexual maturation. These initial studies on zinc reflected some of the key functions served by this mineral, including regulation of genetic activity and balance of carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar. 

Zinc is also essential for the body's ability to read genetic instruction (DNA). General bodily metabolism depends to some extent on the presence of zinc. Impaired sense of taste and smell are also linked to deficiencies of zinc

To sum above the above: evidence supports the zinc hypothesis. Eating sufficient amounts of raw oysters increases zinc in humans, which in turn supports functions critical to the concept of male virility such as sperm production.

The next post sums up all the evidence, science and folk, for claims that oysters are aphrodisiacs, just in time for a Valentine's Day menu.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Oysters as aphrodisiacs: less science-based evidence

                                                        the bivalve Mimachlamys varia

This post continues the January "Oysters as Aphrodisiac" series on good and bad science. Three different hypotheses are made for the claims that eating oysters increases first, sexual desire,  and second, performance, or some mix of both. The dopamine hypothesis states that "Eating oysters increases the desire/motivational aspect of sexual activity". The D-aspartic acid and NMDA hypothesis is that "Eating molluscs increases the release of sexual hormones in humans" and increases desire and subsequent sexual activity. The third is that "Eating oysters high in zinc increases male performance."

The dopamine hypothesis, addressed in my January 27 post, postulated that eating oysters, which at specific times show elevated dopamine production, specifically in the larval stage of settling, would increase dopamine in humans. Research does not support this hypothesis. Today's post examines scientific evidence for the second hypothesis. The zinc hypothesis will be examined next and posted on February 13, just in time for food preparations for Valentine's Day.

The second hypothesis that eating oysters increases/heightens sexual activity went viral after reports were published in 2005 based on a lecture given at the American Chemical Society in San Diego. This lecture, describing an experiment conducted by  Italian and American scientists on bivalves, was given by Dr. George Fisher, a professor of chemistry from Barry University, in Miami Shores, Florida.  Dr. Fisher's results indicated that rats that had been fed bivalves demonstrated the release of the sexual hormones estrogen and progesterone, both involved in heightened sexual activity. Dr. Fisher was later interviewed by reporters who generalized the experimental results to all bivalves, explicitly oysters, which of course are bivalves, just not the ones tested.

The Precautionary Principle

While all oysters are bivalves, not all bivalves are oysters. Experiments on one bivalve cannot necessarily be generalized to all bivalves. The charts below illustrate  that 1) while oysters, mussels, clams, rats, and humans are all animals,  not all animals are either rats or humans; and 2) the differences between bivalves and humans is huge. Bivalves are invertebrates, like sponges and worms, while humans are mammalian vertebrates, like elephants and rats. On top of this difference, humans and rats are found in different orders: humans are in the order Primate, suborder Anthropoid, family Hominid while rats are in a totally different order: Rodent, the most prolific of the mammals.
  • Kingdom
    • Phylum
      • Class
        • Order
At first blush, all bivalves might seem more alike than not. The class Bivalvia includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, and many other families. Bivalves are comprised of about 12000 species, one as different from others in the Mollusc class as Homo sapiens is from other primates such as elephants.

The bivalves tested  by Dr. Fisher and associates were mussels and clams: Mytilus galloprovincialis, Tapes decussates, Chamalea gallina and Donax trunculus) Mytilus is a mussel, Donax is a small clam, as is Chamelea gallina is a species of small saltwater clam, a marine bivalve mollusc in the family Veneridae, the venus clams. Tapes decussates is also a clam. So from the research I conducted on the internet, no oyster was tested.  The clams and mussels contained D-aspartic acid and NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate), which reportedly released testosterone and estrogen in rats.

The principal published critic of this exiting news was Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, an associate professor of medicine from Harvard Medical School, who commented  "The findings are certainly interesting, but we still have a ways to go before saying that there is scientific evidence that clams, oysters and scallops boost libido." Shmerling noted that no evidence existed confirming that ingesting D-aspartic acid and NMDA led to sex hormone release in humans, and further noted that there is a questions of how much estrogen or progesterone was effectlvely increased (that is, with notable positive sexual results).

We know that considerable research on diseases such as cancer is first conducted on rats. Since both humans and rats are mammals, rats are stage one in testing, which then suggests further testing based on similarities among mammals. But there are  important differences among mammals. The relationship between rats and humans and cancer is an a better researched example.

Even though rats are frequently used to test the link between certain household chemicals and cancer, rats are considered relatively poor predictors of human cancer risk. Colon tumors are the second leading cause of death from cancer in humans, yet spontaneous colon tumors rarely occur in rats. (  

No human was tested in the bivalve-libido experiment, which did not involve oysters. As any culinary connoisseur well knows, not all bivalves are alike. Another precaution: lab animals can be as significantly unlike wild animals as farmed Atlantic salmon is different from wild Chinook. Both are salmon, one is fatty and naturally beige, while the other is muscular and red from eating krill. Seafood lovers cannot mistake one for the other. So more relevant, further research is suggested before conclusions are drawn regarding the two chemicals studied in the Fisher bivalve experiment.  Beware of extrapolating the chemical processes of one organism to those of another. The way chemicals function in oysters or rats may be radically different from how they function in humans. Or may not.

The next post addresses the link between eating oysters, high in zinc, to increased sexual performance in males. The benefits of eating foods high in specific nutrients is the cornerstone of most dietary prescription. Conclusions on the folk theory that oysters are aphrodisiacs will be posted on February 13.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Best Santa Barbara Marine Animals: 2011 and 2050

Today's post  is a list of the top nine marine animals in the Greater Santa Barbara Ecosystem (GSBE). Like most top lists, all are best in their categories, according to some system of categorization and rating. Also like most lists, some of the categories are more or less universal, using standardized metrics such as fastest, while other categories are improvisational and based on personal aesthetics, aka judgment. Improvisational categories arise in response to the immediate environment and are most meaningful when the practitioner has both knowledge and understanding of the improvised domain. One of the most common ways Evolution reinforces skillful improvisation is the reward of "just having fun".

That said, the species occupying top spot in the cognitive niche (Homo sapiens) is born to categorize, judge, and order, usually homo-centrically and often according to personal aesthetics. Humans also tend to be naturally good at improvisation as well as driven to have fun. They are also biologically programmed to predict and plan for the future.

So this list reflect all of the above.

  Top Marine Animals  in Greater Santa Barbara Ecosystem for 2011 and 2050
 Categories                                                      Top Species for 2011 and 2050
Most paradoxical local marine animal: world's fastest, strongest, most common zooplankton: the copepod, also known as a drifter

Most likely to succeed by 2050
 2. The colonial tunicate Didemnum Vexillum

Top emerging California fishery, 2011
3. Kellet’s whelk: Kelletia kelletii
Most evolved, 2011
4. California Scorpion fish:Scorpaena guttata
Most likely to work as an aphrodisiac
5. Pacific oyster: Crassostrea gigas
Least Evolved, second most likely to succeed as key commercial fishery in 2050, least likely to work as an aphrodisiac, most challenging as a food item, most likely to be voted the world's biggest slime-ball
6. Pacific Hagfish: Eptatretus stoutii
World's most expensive gonads, most likely to be extinct in the wild by 2050, most likely to be the top aquacultured species in Santa Barbara in 2050
 7. Red sea urchin: Strongylocentrotus franciscanus,
Most important commercial fishery in California in 2011, best in Santa Barbara, fastest up and comer for upscale menus over last 50 years
 8. Market squid: Loligo opalescens

Most likely to rise to top 10 food fisheries in 2050, with Santa Barbara a key harvest area
 9.  warty sea cucumber: Parastichopus parvimensis

Best of the best: Tied for top animal in most categories: 2. the colonial tunicate Didemnum Vexillum and #6. Pacific Hagfish: Eptatretus stoutii

Conclusions and Rationales

We are eating our way down the food chain, developed over millions of years, faster than Evolution can promote species up it, faster than a speeding copepod.  In 2050, our daily menus are likely to feature sea cucumbers, whelks, and hagfish, one of the least evolved of all marine creatures. None can be considered highly mobile, or champions of the seas, or gorgeous, muscular, superbly adapted to their niches, like wild salmon and tuna, both still found on upscale restaurant menus. High-end foods that are sessile (not so mobile) organisms like sea urchins and oysters will be aquacultured for menus. Plan for it. Whelks are small, so in terms of pounds of harvest per effort, they promise to be energy-intensive. Sea cucumbers and hagfish require serious processing, not good to go like wild oysters, which you can eat on the beach.

While top-end foods that we eat today such as lobster eat other tasty living organisms that are mainly fresh protein, the Hagfish burrows into dead carcasses and absorbs dead flesh through its skin.  The Pacific Hagfish, called the slime eel, is known to product an unimaginably huge quantity of brown slime in the shortest possible time.  As a summary conclusion, food will not be easier or tastier in 2050.

The species most likely to colonize every ecosystem, smother and out-compete most natives, seriously reducing biodiversity, is the colonial tunicate, which is kind of  a blob-like gelatinous construction. During last month's Marine Biology class's (Dr. Paddack, SBCC) tide pool field trip to Leadbetter Beach, the most common marine animal I found was the tunicate Didemnum vexillum, which figures in the top 10 or 100 worst  invasive species in lists worldwide. Last semester our class lowered glass settlement plates to various bottom areas in the Santa Barbara harbor and in a couple of months most of them were colonized by tunicates, who seem to adapt to almost any marine environment.

If anyone would like a post dedicated to any one of the above just email me and I'll post something after Valentine's Day. 

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