Monthly Archives: January 2019

Fly Flying Fish Fly

Flying Fish
Flying Fish

Flying Fish Fact:
Flying fish can reach the height of four feet in the air, and glide distance of 655 ft before returning to the water.

The Exocoetidae are a family of marine fish in the order Beloniformes class Actinopterygii, known colloquially as flying fish. About 64 species. While they cannot fly in the same way as a bird does, flying fish can make powerful, self-propelled leaps out of water where their long wing-like fins enable gliding for considerable distances above the water’s surface. This uncommon ability is a natural defense mechanism to evade predators. The ‘Exocet’ missile is named after them, as variants are launched from underwater, and take a low trajectory, skimming the surface, before striking their prey.

Etymology
The term Exocoetidae is both the scientific name and the general name in Latin for a flying fish. The suffix -idae, common for indicating a family, follows the root of the Latin word exocoetus, a transliteration of the Ancient Greek name ἐξώκοιτος. This means literally “sleeping outside”, from ἔξω “outside” and κοῖτος “bed”, “resting place”, verb root κει- “to lie down” (not “untruth”), so named as flying fish were believed to leave the water to sleep ashore, or due to flying fish flying and thus stranding themselves in boats.

An orange cave dweller sitting where it shouldn’t be

Orange cup coral - Tubastraea Coccinea
Orange cup coral – Tubastraea Coccinea

Orange cup coralTubastraea Coccinea
belongs to a group of corals known as large-polyp stony corals. This non-reef building coral extends beautiful translucent tentacles at night. Tubastraea coccinea is heterotrophic and does not contain zooxanthellae in its tissues as many tropical corals do, allowing it to grow in complete darkness as long as it can capture enough food, namely plankton.

It is nice to see Tabastrea Coccinea in its natural environment. OCC has been introduced to all continents except Antarctica and is thought to compete with native benthic invertebrates for space and to compromise their communities. The reduction of native sponges and native corals could also have significant flow-on effects for entire ecosystems. OCC was introduced in the Caribbean in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s at Curaçao and/or Puerto Rico probably transported by fouled vessels, oil and gas platforms, artificial reef structures, or ballast waters.

Etymology
Tubus = tube; +astrea = Astrea – Astraea, daughter of Zeus and Themis, a goddess of justice named after the stars.
coccineus = Latin meaning ‘red like a berry’, scarlet.

Conch Frittered to Extinction?

Conch Fact
Conch Fact

Mollusc Fact: 80% of legal internationally traded conch is consumed in fritters and salads in North America. The Queen Conch – Lobatus gigas is an endangered species and has been protected by over-exploitation by C.I.T.E.S.

Update: Conch populations continue to fall even in areas that are protected.
Full Story Here
A more dire story is here National Geographic 

Etymology
Lobatus – Greek lobus -‘hull, husk, pod, lobe’
gigas – Greek γίγας,- ‘giant’ , referring to the large size of this snail compared with almost all other gastropod molluscs.


Director of science and policy for the Bahamas National Trust, believes there may be some pushback against any conch regulations. “We’re not used to regulations or enforcements,” she told National Geographic. She believes that since the conch industry is the sole source of income for many Bahamians, any restrictions may be met with a degree of resistance.

Shelly Cant-Woodside

Something Slithery This Way Comes

Yellow-lipped sea krait
Yellow-lipped sea krait
Laticauda colubrina

Yellow-lipped Sea Krait or Banded Sea KraitLaticauda colubrina
The worlds most venomous sea snake, found in tropical Indo-Pacific oceanic waters. They have distinctive black stripes and a yellow snout, with a paddle-like tail for use in swimming.

It spends much of its time underwater in order for it to hunt, but returns to land to digest, rest, and reproduce. It has very potent neurotoxic venom which it uses to prey or when feeling threatened by attack. When hunting, banded sea kraits frequently head into deep water far from land. Individual banded sea kraits return to their specific home islands, exhibiting philopatry.

Hunting is often performed alone, but may also do so in large numbers in the company of giant trevally and goatfish. This cooperative hunting technique is similar to that of the moray eel, with the banded sea kraits flushing out prey from narrow crevices and holes, and the partner feeding on fleeing prey. Their main prey item is eel but they have also been observed feeding on small fish such as gobies. They trap their prey in coral crevices using coils of their body. They show sex-based ecological divergence. For example, males being the smaller sex usually forage in shallower water than females and also tend to prey on different kinds of eels, than do their mates.

A deadly game of heads or tails: While probing crevices with their head, they are unable to observe approaching predators and can be vulnerable. The snakes can deter predators, such as larger fish, sharks, and birds, by fooling them into thinking that their tail is their head, because the color and movement of the tail is similar to that of the snake’s head.

Etymology
Laticauda = Latin latus = ‘broad’, +cauda, ‘tail’, in reference to the wide, flat tail
colubrina = Latin colubrinus = ‘having the qualities of a snake’.


The many footed

Porous sea rodPseudoplexaura porosa
The holes from which the polyps project are large and crowded together, and are arranged spirally up the branches. The polyps overlap each other, each one having eight tentacles. The polyps spread out their tentacles to feed on plankton both day and night. The octocoral has symbionts with zooxanthellae that inhabit the tissues.

The polyps are armed with nematocysts (stinging cells) and can be retracted into the branches defensively. Pseudoplexaura porosa has few predators that feed on it including the flamingo tongue snail, nudibranchs, butterflyfish and some angelfish.

Individual colonies of P. porosa are either male or female. On particular nights about five days after a full moon in summer, mature colonies liberate gametes into the sea. Planula larvae that develop from fertilized eggs sink to the seabed five days later and undergo metamorphosis to found new colonies. These are soon colonized by zooxanthellae and grow by budding of new polyps. Besides growing asexually and reproducing sexually, pieces of this coral may detach from the parent colony and become fixed to substrate to create a new colony. P. porosa can live for several decades, and the greatest cause of mortality is detachment from the seabed during tropical storms

Etymology
pseudo – Greek ‘false, lying’ +plex – Latin ‘to plait’ a single length of flexible material made up of three or more interlaced strands; a braid.
porosa – Latin porus ‘an opening’

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Fade with the darkness

Butterflyfish fact
Butterflyfish Fact

At night, butterflyfish settle into dark crevices, and their brilliant colors and markings fade to blend with the reef background.

The butterflyfish are a group of conspicuous tropical marine fish of the family Chaetodontidae

Etymology
Chaetodontidae – The family name from Ancient Greek words χαιτέ, chaite ‘hair’ + οδοντος, odontos ‘tooth.’ This is an allusion to the rows of brush-like teeth found in their small, protrusible mouths.

Pretty in Pink

Beach Fact
Beach Fact

Pink Sand is thanks to a species of microscopic creatures call foraminfera

They live on the underside of reefs, and when their tiny red shells (test) wash ashore, they mix with bits of whit coral for a pretty pastel in pink.

Foraminfera are members of a phylum of amoeboid protists characterized by streaming granular ectoplasm for catching food and other uses; and commonly an external shell (called a “test”) of diverse forms and materials. Foraminifera typically produce a test, or shell, which can have either one or multiple chambers, some becoming quite elaborate in structure. These shells are commonly made of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) or agglutinated sediment particles. Over 50,000 species are recognized, both living (10,000) and fossil (40,000). They are usually less than 1 mm in size.

Dying planktonic Foraminifera continuously rain down on the sea floor in vast numbers, their mineralized tests preserved as fossils in the accumulating sediment. Deep Sea Drilling, have been bringing up sediment cores bearing Foraminifera fossils. The effectively unlimited supply of these fossil tests and the relatively high-precision age-control models available for cores has produced an exceptionally high-quality planktonic Foraminifera fossil record dating back to the mid-Jurassic, and presents an unparalleled record for scientists testing and documenting the evolutionary process. The exceptional quality of the fossil record has allowed an impressively detailed picture of species inter-relationships to be developed on the basis of fossils.

Etymology
foraminfera – Latin for ‘hole bearers’

Walking along on my cuttlefish arms

Flamboyant Cuttlefish - Metasepia pfefferi
Flamboyant Cuttlefish -Metasepia pfefferi

Flamboyant CuttlefishMetasepia pfefferi
Due to the small size of its cuttlebone, it can float only for a short time. This cuttlefish is the only species known to walk or ‘amble’ along the sea floor while rhythmically waving the wide protective membranes on their arms. The arm tips often display bright red coloration to ward off would-be predators. This behavior advertises a poisonous nature, the flesh of this cuttlefish contains a unique toxin.

A toxicology report has confirmed that the muscle tissue of flamboyant cuttlefish is highly toxic, making it only the third cephalopod found to be poisonous. Research has shown the toxin to be as lethal as that of fellow cephalopod the blue-ringed octopus.

Etymology
Meta – Greek meaning “after” or “beyond” is a prefix used in English to indicate a concept which is an abstraction behind another concept, used to complete or add to the latter.
+Sepia – From Ancient Greek “to make rotten”), a cuttlefish, the secretion of a cuttlefish used as ink
Pfeffer – Georg Johann Pfeffer (1854–1931) was a German zoologist, primarily a malacologist, a scientist who studies mollusks.