Saturday, January 21, 2023

Samantha Muka's "Oceans under Glass"

Samantha Muka is assistant professor of science, technology, and society in the College of Arts and Letters at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey.

She applied the "Page 99 Test" to her new book, Oceans under Glass: Tank Craft and the Sciences of the Sea, and reported the following:
From page 99:
For the most part, the modifications of the Hamner kreisels were done to make feeding and scaling up easier. The main changes in the kreisels were aesthetic. Tanks were lit from the sides, and the back was a translucent blue backlit with a fluorescent light. This lighting caused an “endless blue” effect that made the tank appear larger than it actually was. The biggest finding was that the kreisel design could be modified to keep a truly wide array of species, many that did not need the same rate or directionality of current. Cassiopea xamachana (upside-down jelly) do not need a kreisel tank because they are a mainly stationary species that live in relatively stagnant water; their tanks were sand filtered tetrahedrons with rectangular bottoms and heated water. Other species, including Polyorchis penicillatus (bell jelly) are small and could be kept in pseudo kreisels, which work on the same theory of traditional kreisels but are modified from traditional rectangular tanks.
In general, this test is both good and bad for gauging the overall contents of my book.

It is good because it gives you a sense of what the book is about. My book looks at the history of aquarium technology as it was developed in homes, public aquariums, and laboratories in the last 150 years. Page 99 is the end of a section on the development of aquariums for the opening of “Jellies”- an exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in 1992. The end of this subsection tells how Monterey brought together the tank technologies developed around the world and the husbandry techniques (feeding and temperature information) developed separately.

But in some ways, it doesn’t work so well. The first way is that this section appears very dry and technically unapproachable. I promise, the whole book isn’t like this! But because this is a bit later in the chapter, I’ve already introduced so many of the concepts in these paragraphs that I don’t stop to explain them completely. You shouldn’t expect that you would have to be someone who knows anything about aquariums before you read this book. By page 99, you’ll be able to follow all this easily! In addition, each chapter is on a different tank, including photographic aquariums, breeding systems, and coral tanks. Each chapter is self-contained and tells the history of that tank; the whole book isn’t about jellyfish tanks.
Follow Samantha Muka on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue