Amy Lesemann 615 Morris Lane Wallingford, PA 19086 USA 610-876-7366 a_lesemann@yahoo.


Giant Squid and Half-Brained Dolphins By Amy Lesemann

Sometimes when you walk along the beach, or maybe when you’re just falling asleep, weird questions come to you… What’s the deal with jellyfish, and are there peanut butter fish? Why do those crabs do that funny sideways walk, and do they know how embarrassed they should be? OK, maybe you don’t ask these particular questions, but you have to admit the ocean is a pretty strange and mysterious place. There are still places way down deep that nobody’s actually seen. Really. Nobody has all the questions to all the answers, but in this book you’ll find some fascinating, if gross, information you never knew you needed to know. At the end are some websites and other places to go to for answers to your own questions, the kinds of questions that make your teachers roll their eyes and wish they’d gone into software design. Plus the answers are funny and you can read them out loud to your friends. When your teacher’s not looking, of course.

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Is it possible for a person to be swallowed by a whale? There are several stories floating (sorry) around about modern Jonahs, but the most convincing tale has to do with the ship Star of the East, which lost a man named James Bartley overboard, near the Falkland Islands in February of 1891. Supposedly a sperm whale swallowed him, and when the sailors cut open the belly of the whale three days later, there was James, bleached, a little crazy, but otherwise OK. Stories with this many details seem likely to be true, but according to researcher Edward B. Davis of Messiah College it just isn't. He went all the way to England and checked out every part of the story. There really was such a ship, and it really did go to the Falkland Islands, but there was nobody named James Bartley on the ship, and nobody fell overboard. The wife of the captain wrote an angry letter to the local newspaper soon after it printed the "Jonah story" of Bartley. She said she was on the boat at the time, and nobody ever went overboard on any of her husband's ships. Besides, the ship was a cargo ship, so the sailors would hardly bother harpooning a whale, never mind cutting open its stomach. That part, she said, was downright dumb, because whalers don’t bother with whale stomachs anyway. At the time this story sprouted, there was a whale that was bashing itself into a dock near Great Yarmouth, England, after being chased to shore by whalers. It was stuffed and exhibited around the countryside; some researchers say maybe this sparked somebody's imagination. Could you survive being swallowed by a whale, like Pinocchio and his dad (and his cat and his fish)? Well, whale experts say there wouldn't be any air in a whale's stomach, so breathing would be a problem. Sperm whales do have teeth and a mouth big enough to eat squid, which they are very partial to. The biggest whale, the blue whale, has a mouth covered with baleen, which strains out tiny animals called krill. Krill are shrimp-like animals about three

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inches long. It takes two to three tons of krill to fill up a whale, but it doesn't have a choice. Most whales couldn't choke down a fully-grown man, boy, girl, or wooden puppet, live or otherwise. And even if you got swallowed by a sperm whale, you’d suffocate in no time. Oh, well. Don’t you just wish it could be true, though?

Lesemann, Weirdness Why do crabs only run sideways? Because they have no sense of direction.


OK, really: crabs have actually evolved to move quickly and efficiently, while still being pretty safe from predators. Lift your arm. Point forwards, then point to the ceiling, and then point to the back of the room. That's how a ball and socket joint works. Your hips have balled and socket joints, and so do your ankles. So you can run forwards, backwards, into walls, over your sister, wherever you want. Crabs aren't so lucky. To have seriously flexible joints like that requires a lot of soft shell so the leg can move around. In the ocean, where predators lurk around every rock and stand of seaweed, soft shell means one thing: you're a lot more likely to be lunch. Soft shell very yummy (BAD). Hard shell goes crunch! Lots of shell between your teeth. Go find something else to eat (GOOD! You survive to scuttle around another day!). So evolution has meant that the crabs with harder shells and less flexible joints are more likely to survive. There are less tender parts for the local fish to chew on. Most of the crab's flexibility comes from its knees, farther away from its body. The knees can only move up and down, swinging its leg under its belly. That makes for a sideways motion, as its legs move together under the belly and back out again. Imagine your hand as a crab. Your thumb is its head, and your fingers are its legs. Now try to move the "crab" by walking your fingers towards your thumb, finger by finger. It's not so easy, is it? It's a complicated movement. But if you bend your fingers towards your palm and then back out again, you're imitating the sideways movement of the crab. It's simple, requires no fancy coordination or big, easy-to-devour joints. Ta da! You zip along sideways, looking a little silly but much less tasty.

Lesemann, Weirdness How do clams burrow down so fast?


You saw it wash ashore, you reached for it, and zip! Gone. Just a little hole where it disappeared. Clams use their feet, just like mussels, only they're much, much faster. They actually don't go very far down, so clammers (people who dig clams to eat or sell) use bigtoothed rakes to rake them up. If you catch one, it may just spit at you, and that's water that has all its, well, clam poop in it. So much for mollusk potty training. Has anybody tried putting diapers on these guys?

Lesemann, Weirdness How do mussels move around? Put your arm down. We're talking about MUSSELS, not muscles.


These are long black-blue shellfish you find in the ocean and in some streams. They look a bit like darker, stretched out clams. They open their shells just a bit when they're under water, and stick out a piece of muscle called the "foot". The foot reaches out to its new location, attaches to something (a rock, or a shell, or maybe another mussel), and contracts or tightens up, dragging the rest of the mussel along to its new location. The foot can stretch about half the length of the shell, and some mussels can keep moving right along, pretty quickly. At least, quickly compared it its mollusk cousin, the snail. But that's a mollusk of another color.

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Why don't you ever find whole, live mussels washing up on the beach? All you can ever find is half an empty mussel shell. When mussels die, the soft parts dissolve in the water. The top and bottom shells often get broken apart when gulls, or other predators, eat them, but even if the shells are still connected when they die, the waves often bounce them around and break them apart by the time they land on the shore. Zebra mussels are problem in a lot of lakes because they reproduce so fast and like to hang out by pipes that are pulling water out of the lake. They attach to each other with strings, so masses of them clog up the works and make the engineers in charge of the pipes say a lot of bad words. Since the zebra mussels also like to hitch rides on boats, some people accidentally carry them from one lake to another, giving the mussels a whole new neighborhood of pipes and dams to jam up. Ever see those commercials for glue to keep Grandpa's dentures in place? Well, the idea for that glue – glue that could work in wet places – came from trying to pry mussels off of rocks. Go ahead and try. That's why the glue has "sea" in its name, giving credit to those little guys. Maybe you could use it to glue your sister to the side of the pool? Probably not. The lifeguard would notice, and they’re fussy about finding kids glued to their pools. Go figure.

Lesemann, Weirdness What do starfish eat, and how do they eat it?


Starfish aren't actually fish, so scientists have renamed them sea stars. Sea stars eat shellfish such as clams, oysters, and mussels. A sea star will use its suckers on the underside of their legs to suck the shellfish open. It just needs a very tiny opening, maybe an eighth of an inch, so that it can push its stomach out of its own mouth and onto the shellfish. Then the stomach, sitting outside of the sea star, eats the shellfish! Yum. When it's done, the stomach returns to the sea star, burps, and smiles. Well, if its stomach could burp or smile, it would. Another cool fact: sea stars have RADIAL symmetry, which is a fancy way of saying that there’s more than one way to fold a sea star in half (no, don't try this! Yucky poo!), When you fold it in half, you find that the right half is a mirror copy of the left half. If you slice one from

the tip of one arm, across the middle, to the other side, and throw both halves in the ocean, each half will grow another half. Now there are two sea stars. Too bad for the fishermen who thought sea stars were eating all the valuable clams and mussels. They used to cut up sea stars and throw them back in the water. They thought they were killing them off. Oops. Doubled the sea star population! Humans are mirror copies left to right also. But don't try slicing your little brother in half. He won't grow another half, and it'll make a mess on the living room rug your mother just had cleaned. Besides, would you really want two little brothers running around anyway? Shudder.

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What are jellyfish, anyway, and how does a lump of jelly move without hands, feet, or fins? Jellyfish are different from most other beasts of the sea because they have no hard skeleton – inside or out. Jellyfish such as sea anemones do have two sets of muscles that help them propel them through the water: one set runs around the body, and the other from the tentacles on down. When those muscles around the body contract (that means the muscle pulls in, and gets tighter), the jellyfish gets longer and thinner, just like a water balloon squeezed by your hands. Then the opposite muscles going up and down the sides of the jellyfish squeeze together, and the jellyfish goes back to its round self. This contracting and expanding motion pushes the jellyfish along, though at a pretty slow pace. How is this blobby thing actually put together? Where are the guts of the creature? In swimming jellyfish there is a very solid gelatin layer that makes the jellyfish bulky (scientists call it the layer the "mesoglea", meso "meaning in the middle"). Inside the mesoglea is one layer of cells that forms its guts, where the food gets processed and absorbed, and on the outside there's a layer of cells that forms a type of skin. It's not a skin like you and I have, which is made of plenty of layers of cells, but it does hold the jellyfish together. So you can see that without teeth or claws, not being able to move very quickly, the jellyfish had to come up with something to keep it from being everybody's peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Ta da! Stinging cells! One nibble and the bad guys are not likely to come back for seconds. They also use these stinging cells to catch dinner. The little bit of venom poisons/paralyzes their food, and then they can pull it in with their tentacles and digest it. So the stinging cells help the jellyfish get their dinner, and keep them from becoming somebody else's dinner. Very efficient!

Lesemann, Weirdness How do dolphins sleep without drowning?


Sleeping can be tricky if you spend all your time in the water but can't actually breathe the stuff. Since dolphins are mammals, they don't have gills. They have to go up to the surface frequently to breathe, or they'd drown just like we would. This does make for an interesting problem – they can't sleep all night without breathing and they can’t swim without their brain being in gear. But they can divide their powerful brains in half, in a sense – half of the brain goes to sleep while the other half stays awake. One eye stays open to keep an eye out for anything that might enjoy snacking on a sleeping dolphin. It helps that they don't need to breathe as frequently when they're asleep, either. Dolphins breathe eight to twelve times a minute when they're awake and alert, and only three to seven times a minute when they're sleeping. They don't sleep as long as the average kid does, either; dolphins catnap for about two hours at a time, then they switch sides of the brain and let the other half sleep while the other eye stays open. Sometimes they swim along slowly as they sleep, and sometimes they sleep more deeply. Scientists call this deeper sleep "logging" because the dolphins look like logs floating along the surface of the water. When the baby is born the mother and the "aunts" (other female dolphins in the same group, or pod, as the mother) have to help it to the surface to take its first breath. When baby dolphins are born, swimming alone would take up all their energy and leave them too tired to fight off an attack or even eat and grow. So the baby swims along just behind the mother. It's much easier to move along behind someone else, rather than fight through the water on your own. The mother has to keep swimming for the first few weeks of her baby's life, letting the baby swim along behind her. If she stops swimming, the baby will sink, because it doesn't have enough fat to keep it afloat and swimming on its own is just too hard for a newborn. So breathing is something a bit more complicated for dolphins than it is for us; we breathe whether we're awake or asleep. This process gives a whole new meaning to the

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expression "half asleep." Imagine keeping one eye open and half your brain on guard at all times! OK, your teacher does, but that's different. She has eyes in the back of her head anyway.

Lesemann, Weirdness Why is the ocean salty?


That annoying salty water. It goes up your nose and down your throat. It makes you sticky. Where did all that salt come from? Actually, lakes and rivers have salt in them too, just not as much. Salt is a mineral found in lots of rocks that line the bottoms of rivers and lakes, and the rocks get worn down and ground up by lake water, running rivers, and flowing streams. They release their salt into the water. Rivers and streams have been dumping into oceans for billions of years, dumping their salt into the ocean too. Water is always evaporating (drying up) from the ocean, but salt can't evaporate. It gets left behind. The rivers keep flowing into the ocean, and the ocean gets saltier and saltier. By now the water's so salty you could dip a French fry in it, add a little ketchup, and you're all set. OK, a little soggy, and not particularly tasty, but hey, compared to your cafeteria’s food, let’s not get picky.

Lesemann, Weirdness Why is the sand so hot and the water is so cold at the beach?


We all run tippy-toed on the broiling sand, and then the water is positively ICY! What gives? Think of a big pot of water sitting on the stove. It takes quite a while for that amount of water to come to a boil. Now think of a piece of bread in the toaster. It doesn't take long for that bread to toast, does it? But it takes a lot of hot days to slowly heat up the ocean than it does to heat up the land. Why is that? If you picture the smallest piece of water you can find, that would be a molecule of water, which is made up of two hydrogen atoms (the smallest bit of the gas hydrogen) and one oxygen atom (smallest bit of the gas oxygen). When they're put together they arrange themselves to look like some giant cartoon mouse, with two hydrogen atoms for his ears and an oxygen molecule for his head. The hydrogen atoms have a positive charge, and the oxygen atom has a negative charge. The positive and negative charges are attracted to the other water molecules, the same way that a positive end of a magnet is attracted to a negative pole of another magnet. That's why the atoms stick together to make water. But when you heat up water by adding sunlight, the molecule gets all excited and starts to bend. They break apart from each other and jump around. (The same thing happens with people. We get energy from eating, which gives us the energy to move around, throw things, and generally cause trouble. Which is why your teacher gets a headache trying to teach class after lunch.) When it's hot and sunny, the molecules use some of their energy bouncing around and breaking apart. The energy that's left over sticks around and heats up the water. Since the water used up some of its energy by bouncing, it heats up more slowly than the land, or any other solid, does. When the weather turns cool in early fall, some of the ocean's stored energy goes towards slowing down the molecules. As the molecules start to stick back together they release some of that energy they were planning to use to bounce around. Giving up that energy slows down the

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cooling, so cooling down an ocean full of water takes some time. That means whatever the temperature of the ocean is right now, it will stay pretty much the same for days and weeks on end, even if the air temperature goes up and down. So although the ocean is cooler than the beach on a warm summer day, on a cold winter day the water's actually warmer than the beach. Weird, but true.

Lesemann, Weirdness Why is there often a breeze at the beach?


It never fails. It's scalding hot in the morning, you burn your tender footsies on the sand, but then by six o'clock in the evening you're putting a sweatshirt on. A big body of water such as the ocean needs more energy to heat up than the air does (see other section: Why is the sand so hot and the water so cold?). So the air over the sand heats up quickly, and hot air is very light, so it rises up. When it rises there's a big space for the cool air to flow in from over the ocean. Breezes and big winds are moving air, flowing from one place to another. The breeze gets stronger through the day, as the difference in temperature over the air and over the water gets bigger and bigger, and more and more air flows from over the ocean to over the land. Kites are particularly fond of late afternoons on the beach, when all that warm air over the beach rises, and the cool air from over the ocean moves in to take its place. Kites are also great travelers and will tow swimmers towards various European countries if they ask nicely. OK, maybe not, but doesn't that sound like fun?

Lesemann, Weirdness What makes high and low tides? And why do they happen twice a day?


You left your sandals waaay up on the beach and now they've floated halfway to Portugal. Why can't the ocean stay in one place already? The ocean is always moving, as the tide comes in or goes out. But you didn't plan ahead, did you? You may THINK you've got lots of room between the ocean and your sandals. But at high tide, the waves crash higher up on the beach. As the hours pass, the waves slide back. The moon and the spinning of the earth are the guilty parties. When the moon is directly overhead, it is a bit closer to the earth, and its pull on the earth is a bit stronger. The moon tugs the water higher up on the shore. The moon pulls at dirt and rocks, too, but since they’re solids they don’t like to move around much. So the earth spins happily and high tide happens at whatever place is passing directly beneath the moon. The earth spins, that spot is no longer directly beneath the moon, and the water sloooowly slides back down to its lowest point. That’s when low tide occurs. So why are there TWO high tides and two low tides? Well, while the moon is tugging the ocean on one side of the earth, on the other side centrifugal force is causing a piling up of water on the other side of the earth. What the heck is that …. whatever force deal thingy? Remember the earth and the moon are pulling on each other. They are both trying to fly apart but their gravity is pulling on each other. Get yourself a rock and tie it onto the end of a rope. You’re the earth, you big lug, you. Now swing the rock around. Spin around and around. You’re rotating while your rock is orbiting you. The force that makes the rock fly around you is centrifugal force. That rock gets heavy after a while, doesn’t it? The centrifugal force pulls the ocean on the side of the earth that’s farthest away from the moon, piling the water up as the earth spins.

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It’s as if the side farthest away from the moon is bulging outward. That bulge is the high tide happening on the opposite side of the earth. You can picture yourself as the earth spinning around, one side of you being pulled by the moon, causing one high tide on your front side, and the back part of you pulling away, bulging outward, causing the other high tide. As the earth rotates beneath the moon, the water slides back in one place and rises in the next high tide location. And on the other side of the planet, the bulge moves to a new spot as the earth rotates beneath it. So you get two high tides, on opposite sides of the earth, and two low tides, on opposite sides of the earth. Think of it as a water balloon – if you squeeze the sides, you get two bulges, on opposite sides. Those bulges are where the high tides are happening. The squeezed in part is where the two low tides occur. When there's a full moon or a new moon (which means you can't see the moon at all), the earth, moon, and sun are all lined up, and the high tides are higher than usual, and the low tides are lower than usual. High tides are very talented, too, and like to sneak up on people, but once you get to know the ocean’s habits, you can predict when it’s going to make its move. So next time you're at the ocean, keep one eye on the waves, one eye on your sandals, and one eye on the tide schedule. No problem. The earth rotates. It’s high tide in different places at different times of the day.

High tide caused by earth’s rotation , a bulge of water caused by “centrifugal force”, for the smarty pants in the audience.

High tide caused by being closer to the moon. The moon

Lesemann, Weirdness What are jetties, and why are they there?


Jetties are big, man-made piles of rock that jut out into the ocean to break up the force of waves as they move towards the shore. A wave broken into two or three pieces has to spread out its power, instead of hitting the beach as a single, wide wall of water. They're especially useful during storms, as enormous waves pound the beach, picking up sand and dumping it in other places. Storms can really rearrange the shoreline, and that can be a problem for human beings. While the earth may not really care if the beach is twenty feet wide here and only six feet wide there, people prefer that the beach stay right where it is, so that their vacation homes and state park bathrooms don't go floating out to sea. So jetties break up the waves, making the big ones smaller and less powerful. You could say jetties jut just to joust with the waves. Or not.

Lesemann, Weirdness What is a tidal wave, and should I be worried about one?


Tidal waves are usually caused by earthquakes underwater, or near enough to the coast that the shock waves go under the ocean as well. So this means that the name "tidal wave" isn't really correct – tides have nothing to do with these monstrous waves. How do they work? If you drop a pebble in a bowl of water, you'll see ripples spreading out from the center. Eventually the ripples hit the rim of the bowl. That's an ordinary wave, washing up on the shore. If you drop a big rock in the water, not only will ripples spread, but great big waves slosh over the sides of the bowl. That’s a tidal wave. In most tidal waves earthquakes are pushing up rocks from the ocean floor, or in some cases volcanoes are erupting under water, pushing up lava and throwing up hot rocks. Sometimes landslides or avalanches on the edge of the ocean can start the waves, too. Those big waves can go several miles inland, and can be hundreds of feet high. The Japanese word tsunami, meaning “giant wave”, is more accurate than “tidal wave”. Some tsunamis can be a number of high waves tumbling one after another onto the shore, possibly an hour apart from each other. Later waves are often much bigger than the first ones. Sometimes an earthquake can send a huge wave tearing across the ocean at 500 miles per hour. But the giant wave's water is spread from the surface down to the bottom of the ocean, so passing ships barely notice the slight rise in the ocean’s level. When that wave starts to hit the shore, though, bumping against the bottom of the ocean, all that water gets piled higher and higher until it tumbles over onto the shore and destroys anything in its path. It’s even worse when several waves start coming in at the same time. They slow down as they grate against the sand, and catch up with each other. They hang out, chat for a while, and combine into one truly massive wave.

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Should you be worried? Well, they are almost always in the Pacific Ocean, so if you live in Pennsylvania or Iowa you're OK. There's also a tsunami warning system to alert people in tidal wave areas if there is volcano or earthquake action going on under water or near the coast. It takes time for the wave to get its act together, so there’s usually time to get out of the way. But in 1896 there was no warning system. There was no way to know what was about to happen in the southern Pacific Ocean. When the volcano Krakatoa erupted it was one of the loudest explosions of all time, and the entire island disappeared. Australians 2,000 miles away heard it explode. The waves it caused went around the world, and some islands were washed over completely. 36,000 people were killed – more than the population of Bangor, Maine. Ships were destroyed, and one was carried two miles inland and dumped on the ground, still in pretty good shape. Holy mackerel! That one was particularly big. Usually they're not that bad, and these days, even if there’s a Son of Krakatoa, the warning system will let you know what’s going on. There is another weird way to get clued in, too. Before a tidal wave hits, the ocean rushes away from the beach much farther than usual. It's as if the giant wave on its way in is sucking the water into itself. Sometimes fish are left flopping around on the sand. That draws some people down closer to the water to take a look, and maybe collect some fresh fish for dinner – but that's also a warning sign that a tidal wave may be on its way. What can you do? Pay attention if you live in an area near the Pacific Ocean, especially. If the warning system goes off and the lifeguard tells you to leave now, don't argue. Go. And if you see a bunch of fish flopping around on the sand looking nervous, don't try to pick up some for dinner. Get a move on out of there.

Lesemann, Weirdness Do sea monsters really exist?


Well, no. And yes. No, nothing's going to climb out of the Atlantic and pull some huge ship to the bottom of the sea. But yes, there are giant squid that nobody's actually seen alive. Pieces of enormous squids have washed up on shore and have gotten caught in fishermen's nets. How big are giant squid? Well, dead sperm whale have been found with sucker marks on them that were the size of dinner plates. Scared yet? Don't be. They live waaaaay far down underwater; that's why nobody's seen one alive. But just imagine a sperm whale, which is about the size of a kitchen or small garage, getting caught by a giant squid's tentacles. It would be Superman versus Batman. That's pretty monstrous.

Lesemann, Weirdness Are there any other monsters down there?


Yes. How does a ten-foot long giant tubeworm grab you? Actually, it can't grab you; a tubeworm, giant or otherwise, has no arms, no legs, no mouth, and no, um, rear end. How does it survive? When it's first born, it does have a mouth hole, and masses of bacteria flow into it and actually live inside the worm. It's called a "symbiotic" relationship, which means the worm and the bacteria help each other survive. Both provide something the other marine animal needs. Don't worry - giant tubeworms live even farther down than the giant squid do, near the holes, or vents, at the bottom of the ocean. Holes? At the bottom of the ocean?? Well, yes. But that's another story.

Lesemann, Weirdness Want to know more strange facts about the ocean? Check out these web sites! 1. Whales swallowing people (pass the ketchup, hold the onions….) 2. Whales, dolphins, and porpoises 3. Crabs (the six-legged sort, not the one teaching your class. My, you're mean!) 4. Jellyfish and other squishy delights


5. Deep-sea vents and giant tubeworms – yummy! Fried, mashed, or whirred up as a worm shake! This site will let you actually look at the bottom of the ocean floor, where Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute is constantly exploring the deep-sea vents and the worms who hang out around them. 6. Here are some funny stories about what people used to believe, and OK, some still believe. We're talking sea monsters, dragons, dinosaurs, the whole bit. Lots of fun to wander through. 7. Tsunamis (otherwise, and incorrectly, known as tidal waves) Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Now, you could also do like people did back "in the day" – read a book. OK. Calm down. You read this one, didn't you? Go ahead – live dangerously! Ask your librarian for help finding these

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or other books. The World Book Encyclopedia is handy, and there are even entire sets of encyclopedias just about animals. Tidal Wave, by Christopher Lampton, The Millbrook Press, Brookfield, CT 1992 Powerful Waves, by DM Souza, Carolrhoda Books, Inc. Minneapolis, MN 1992 The Magic Schoolbus On the Ocean Floor, by Joanna Cole, Scholastic Press.

Here are some people who were very helpful: Michael Elliott, Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Louise Wootton, Ph.D. Georgian Court College, New Jersey