Note: This interview was broadcast on WGBH radio, Boston’s NPR station for news and culture, on April 17, 2011!
The Cambridge Science Festival returns this week with Inspiring Minds: Meet Women in Science, a program at the Museum of Science that includes a talk by Randi Rotjan, a coral ecologist at the New England Aquarium in Boston. Randi has been stung by jellyfish, coral, you name it. It’s all part of the job, studying coral reefs on location in exotic locales like the Red Sea or the Phoenix Islands, the world’s largest marine protected area. She goes face to face with hermit crabs as they line up, after the usual jostling, to form vacancy chains, waiting to trade in their old shells for newer, larger ones. It’s the classic upgrade, and it follows rules – perhaps ones we humans might care to copy.
Rules abound undersea – as does death. If the water temperature is too warm, corals bleach, starve and die. And if the tube worms that thrive near deep sea hydrothermal vents venture too far from the fissure, they’ll freeze. But most of the time, they’re doing just fine, thank you, feasting on the poisonous spewing gases they’re so fond of.
Watch this brief video on corallivory (the eating of live coral by fish!) to get you started.
And then click here (12 minutes) to listen to the audio interview, for the details.