Monthly Archives: January 2019

Shortpouch Pygmy Pipehorse and friends

Shortpouch pygmy pipehorse - Acentronura tentaculata
Shortpouch pygmy pipehorse – Acentronura tentaculata

Shortpouch pygmy pipehorseAcentronura tentaculata
Like a combination of seahorse and pipe fish: their tail is prehensile and used for anchorage, winding itself around pieces of algae or seagrass. However, the front part of the body is typical pipefish, with the head and body held in line rather than bent through and angle like seahorses. There is sexual dimorphism and the males are somewhat larger and more robustly built than the females. Because they are so small, the brood pouch is also large in proportion to the body, giving the males a somewhat more seahorse-like appearance than the females which have the typical slim linear form of pipefishes.

Skeleton Shrimp – Caprellidae family – amphipods. Females carry large number of transparent eggs inside the brood pouch (located on her abdomen) until they hatch.

Etymology:
Acentronura: Greek, a = ‘without’ + Greek, kentron = ‘sting’ + Greek, oura = ‘tail’

Pookey the pygmy pipehorse gathers his skeleton shrimp friends around to retell the great story of the day that Jon descended down from the waters above. Jon was dressed in a dark fake skin that was stretched very tight. Attached to each of his rear appendages were awkward rubber fins. His blue eyes were concealed behind a layer glass. A great hissing sound followed by a rumble of bubbles escaped from around Jon's mouth in a rhythmic pattern. Hssssss blublublublublublub Hsssssss blublublublublublub! He carried in front of him a great contraption that flashed a very bright light from the orbs at the end each of its antennas - one on each side of a single unblinking eye. Jon stayed only a few moments peering into this contraption and pointing that mysterious eye to and fro. FLASH Hssssss blublublublublublub…..FLASH Hssssss blublublublublublub. FLASH Hssssss blublublublublublub. Then, Jon swam off at a great speed. It was indeed a marvelous day.

Slender Filefish blends right in

Slender FilefishMonacanthus tuckeri
This filefish is a master of adaptive camouflage, it changes appearance in less than four seconds. Three-dimensional dermal flaps complement the melanophore skin patterns by enhancing the complexity of the fish’s physical skin texture to disguise its actual body shape. Found over sandy and rocky bottoms. Usually they live solitary or in pairs between gorgonians, sponges or near coral growths. Often they stay vertically in the water. Especially between gorgonians they are difficult to spot in this position. Feeds on algae and invertebrates. Due to the extremely small size of the slender filefish, they do not lie on the seabed as bigger fish do, but use their mouth to grasp the soft corals which prevents them from drifting with the sea currents.

Etymology:
Monacanthus: Greek, monos = ‘one’ + Greek, akantha = ‘thorn’

Painted frogfish

Painted Frogfish - Antennarius pictus
Painted Frogfish – Antennarius pictus

Painted FrogfishAntennarius pictus – Has a lure which is about twice as long as the second dorsal spine. Nearly always 3 light-edged spots on tail fin. A. pictus shows a lot of different colors and changes them quite often.

I was disappointed that I could not capture a photo of the little lure waving about. When I put my camera in the housing I did not get the strobe hot shoe clicked completely in place. This was lighted by holding my dive light from above and I couldn’t produce enough light for a fast enough shutter speed to catch the waving.

Etymology
Antennarius: From Latin, antenna, antemna = ‘sensory organ’
pictus: From Latin = ‘painted’


A Sea Cookie Monster?

Spotted Worm Sea Cucumber - Synapta maculata
Spotted Worm Sea Cucumber – Synapta maculata

Spotted Worm Sea CucumberSynapta maculata – Sometimes growing as long as 10 ft, it is one of the longest sea cucumbers in the world. The 15 tentacles of Synapta maculata surround the mouth and are used in surface feeding. They are about 1 in long when extended and have a short stem and a feather-like blade with thirty to forty pairs of pinnules (secondary branches). The outer surfaces of the tentacles have numerous bulges and are adhesive while the inner surfaces are smooth, with clusters of cilia on the proximal parts. The tentacles are in continuous motion; they flatten themselves against the substrate or seagrass leaf blades and collect food particles by adhesion, then bend inwards until the tips are in the mouth, where the food is scraped off by the buccal (mouth) sphincter muscle. The whole process takes only a few seconds, and several tentacles can deliver their loads at the same time. You can watch them go at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ru1fcsFp1M

Now for the comparison to The Cookie Monster: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqL7jyrXhLs

Etymology:
Synapta: Latin ‘joined together’
maculata: Latin maculosus ‘spotted’

It’s a tentacular spectacular!

Phyllodesmium briareum - Nudibranch
Phyllodesmium briareum – Nudibranch

Phyllodesmium briareum – Nudibranch – There is a lot going on in those wavy arms. The name briareus was apparently given to it because it uses camouflage and looks like the soft coral Briareum violacea with which it is often found. Their specific name briareum comes from Briareos, one of three Greek storm giants who each had one hundred hands and fifty heads. P. briareum spends the day feeding on various kinds of soft coral, but they also have contains zooxanthellae which live in specialized ducts in the digestive gland. They do their photosynthesis thing and provide sugars.

The tentacles are cerata (from the Greek word meaning “horn”, a reference to the shape of these structures) of conventional aeolid shape. Aeolids (a suborder of Nudibranchia)take their name from the Greek god of the winds, Aeolus because of the waving of their cerata resembles streamers in the wind.
All aeolids have these dorsal and lateral outgrowths of the body. They are a blood-filled tube which contains a duct of the digestive gland. At the tip of the ceras in most aeolids is a sac, called the cnidosac which stores stinging nematocysts from the cnidarians (sea anemones, hydroids etc) on which they feed. Aeolids can discharge these nematocysts in their own defense. Some aeolids, such as species of Phyllodesmium which feed on soft-corals, do not have a cnidosac because the nematocysts of soft-corals are of little use in defense. Instead their cerata produce a horrible sticky secretion at the tip of the ceras. The cerata can even drop off and wriggle around, hopefully distracting assailants giving it a chance to escape.

Being an aeolid, P. briareum lacks the gills found in many other nudibranches. Instead, they do all their breathing straight through the skin, but particularly through those wonderful tentacles which are known as cerata.

Life among the Bubbles

Bubble Coral Shrimp - Vir philippinensis
Bubble Coral Shrimp – Vir philippinensis
Bubble CoralPlerogyra sinuosa

Bubble Coral ShrimpVir philippinensis
Like all coral associated shrimps, the limit between, parasitism and mutual symbiosis, is pretty thin. Probably that the shrimp, in exchange of food and shelter, helps fight off some small parasites, such as flat worms, coral eating nudies, some sponges or algae that would compete with the corals. or even clean the coral off any detritus, sand…

Bubble CoralPlerogyra sinuosa
The vesicles resembling bubbles up to 1 in in diameter. These enlarge during the day but retract to a certain extent during the night to expose the polyps and their tentacles. It obtains most of its nutritional needs from the symbiotic dinoflagellates that live inside its soft tissues including the walls of the vesicles. These photosynthetic organisms provide the coral with organic carbon and nitrogen, sometimes providing up to 90% of their host’s energy needs for metabolism and growth. Its remaining needs are met by the planktonic organisms caught by the polyps at night.

Etymology
Vir – from Latin ‘man’
philippinensis –  Means “from the Philippines”
Plerogyra Plero from Latin ‘almost’ + gyra, alteration of Greek gŷros ‘circle’ or ’round’
sinuosa – Latin ‘winding’

Smile….Ouch

Lance Blenny - Aspidontus dussumieri
Lance Blenny – Aspidontus dussumieri

Lance BlennyAspidontus dussumieri
These are what is known as a  false cleanerfish. They are noted for their cunning mimicry of cleaner wrasses: by imitating the latter’s color, form, and behavior, these blennies are able to trick other fish (or even divers) into letting down their guard, long enough for the blennies to nip a quick mouthful of skin or scale.

Etymology:
Aspidontus: Greek, aspis, -idos = shield + Latin, dens, dentis = teeth
The specific name honors the French explorer and trader Jean-Jacques Dussumier. He is known as a collector of zoological species from southern Asia and regions around the Indian Ocean between 1816 and 1840. Dussumier’s name was lent to numerous species, and an entire genus of herrings is called Dussumieria.

Painted Shielded Horns

Thecacera picta - Nudibranch
Thecacera picta – Nudibranch

Thecacera picta – Nudibranch –
They are almost clear, you can see its internal organs through the translucent body. A characteristic feature of this genus are the long horns on its back, which can be extended and retracted. Most of the nudibranchs with feathery gills have them near the back of the body, but here they’re closer to the front.

Etymology
Thecacera. From Greek ‘theke’, a receptacle, a scabbard or sheath + ‘kerós’, horn, for the shielded rhinophores.
picta – From Latin ‘pictus’ for painted, colored, decorated

A rhinophore is one of a pair of chemosensory rod-shaped structures which are the most prominent part of the external head anatomy in nudibranchs.

Etymology
Rhinophore – relates to the function as an organ of “smell”. A mixed Latin and Greek word meaning “carrying noses” – “Rhino-” means nose from Ancient Greek ‘rhis’ and from its genitive rhinos. “Phore” means “to bear” from New Latin -‘phorus’ and from Greek -phoros “bearing”, a derivative of phérein.

BigFin Reef Squid

Big Fin Reef Squid
BigFin Reef Squid –
Sepioteuthis lessoniana

Bigfin Reef SquidSepioteuthis lessoniana – BfRS have a large oval fin that extends throughout the margins of its mantle.

  • BfRS adapt to warmer temperatures by laying more eggs, making them a good indicator species for climate change.
  • The babies resemble miniature adults and are remarkable for already having the capability to change body coloration upon hatching.
  • BfRS have the fastest recorded growth rates of any large marine invertebrate, reaching 600 g in only four months. They are a short-lived species, with a maximum recorded lifespan of 315 days.
  • Males have been observed to exhibit mating behaviors with other males. Some males have been found with numerous spermatophores embedded in their mouth funnels. Since BfRS distinguish sex by visual cues, this may be a form of deception. The smaller males (termed “female mimics” or “sneaker males”) might have assumed body patterning typical of females in order to trick larger males. Believing they are females, they will then waste their spermatophores on them.
  • BfRS are one of the most commercially important squid species, and are widely consumed as human food.

Coloration

  • Large chromatophores densely cover the upper surfaces of the head, mantle and arms with fewer on the sides.
  • BfRS are capable of metachrosis – rapidly changing body coloration and patterns through voluntary control of chromatophores.
  • They also possess iridophores that produces iridescent metallic greens and red when illuminated.
  • They are also one of two squid species with leucophores that are a reflector-type structural coloration that reflects ambient light, such that they are white in white light, green in green light, and so on.
  • BfRS are remarkable for having the ability to produce complex body patterns from the moment they hatch.

Etymology:
Sepioteuthis – Greek for “cuttlefish squid”
lessoniana: Named after René Primevère Lesson who was a 19th century French botanist and surgeon who collected it off the coast of New Guinea during the circumnavigational voyage of the French corvette La Coquille (1822–1825).

LeftEye Flounder

Intermediate Flounder - Asterorhombus intermedius
Intermediate Flounder – Asterorhombus intermedius

Intermediate FlounderAsterorhombus intermedius  
Lefteye flounders are a family, Bothidae, of flounders. They are called “lefteye flounders” because most species lie on the sea bottom on their right sides, with both eyes on their left sides.

A helpful reminder when trying to recall the family name for this fish is that:

“Bothidae (Both o’ dey) eyes are on the same side o’ dey head.”

Etymology:

  • Asterorhombus: Greek, aster = “star” + Greek, rhombos = “paralelogram”
  • intermedius Latin “intermediate”, used in medical names and descriptions of structures in the body that are between two other structures