Category Archives: Facts

Short, Single Subject posts

Fly like an eagle ray

Spotted Eagle Ray
Spotted Eagle Ray –
Aetobatus narinari

There is a row of six or seven papillae (small projections) on the roof and floor of the mouth behind the teeth that are believed to separate shells from prey prior to ingestion.

Spotted eagle ray preys mainly upon bivalves, crabs, whelks, benthic infauna they also feed on mollusks, crustaceans, particularly malacostracans and also upon hermit crabs, shrimp, octopuses, and some small fish.]

The spotted eagle ray’s specialized chevron-shaped tooth structure helps it to crush the mollusks’ hard shells. The jaws of these rays have developed calcified struts to help them break through the shells of mollusks, by supporting the jaws and preventing dents from hard prey. These rays have the unique behavior of digging with their snouts in the sand of the ocean. ] While doing this, a cloud of sand surrounds the ray and sand spews from its gills.

Aetobatus – Greek Aetos = ‘eagle’ + batus = ‘a ray’
narinari – Nari (asomtavruli Ⴌ, nuskhuri ⴌ, mkhedruli ნ) is the 14th letter of the three Georgian scripts. Nari commonly represents the alveolar nasal consonant /n/, like the pronunciation of ⟨n⟩ in “nose”.

Bonus fact that is probably not true:
Steve Millers famous song was originally written about rays not birds:

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'
Into the future

Wanna fly like an eagle ray
In the sea
Fly like an eagle ray
Let water carry me
I want to fly like an eagle ray
'Till I'm free
Oh, Lord, through the revolution ...

Hello Toadfish – Brrrrzz Brrrrzz Brrrrzz Brrrrzz

Splendid Toadfish –
Sanopus splendidus

It is difficult for toadfishes to swim across great distances, so populations can become easily isolated by geography and evolve into now species.

Also known as the coral toadfish and the Cozumel splendid toadfish is a species entirely endemic to the island of Cozumel, Mexico.

Bonus Fact 1: Toadfish have gone into space orbin on two NASA space shuttle missions.

Bonus Fact 2: Gulf Toadfish who life off the coast of Florida make up a notable portion of the dolphin’s diet, approximately 13%. Scientific experiments have shown that the mating call of the toadfish alerts dolphin predators to the fish’s location. Similarly, the sounds caused by the dolphin when hunting its prey alert toadfish to the location of the predators and cause the fish to silence their mating call. Male toadfish will reduce their mating calls by up to 50% when they hear the low sound of a dolphin’s “pop”.
“Fish Eavesdrop to Avoid Becoming Dinner”. Livescience. Retrieved 2016-10-20.

Bonus Fact 3: The sounds of a toadfish reminds me of an amplified phone vibrating.

Sanopus – Greek, sanoo, saino = ‘to shake the tail’ + Greek, pous = ‘foot’
Splendidius – Latin splendeō = ‘shine’ +‎ -idus = ‘tending to’

Thar she Blows!

Whale blowhole
Whale blowhole

A blowhole is the hole at the top of the whales head through which the animal breathes air.

In baleen whales, those whales who do not have teeth, but rather have baleen plates to filter food out of the water , blowholes are in pairs – positioned in a V-shape . It is homologous with the nostril of other mammals, and evolved via gradual movement of the nostrils to the top of the head.

Toothed whales have only one blowhole. The blowhole of a sperm whale, a toothed whale, is located left of center in the frontal area of the snout, and is actually its left nostril, while the right nostril lacks an opening to the surface and its nasal passage is otherwise well developed.

The trachea only connects to the blowhole, and the animal cannot breathe through its mouth. Because of this, there is no risk of food accidentally ending up in the animal’s lungs, so whales have no gag reflex.

Bonus Fact:
Part of their ability to stay underwater so long comes down to the size of their lungs which are, as you can imagine, pretty large (to give you an idea, a blue whale’s lung capacity is 5000 liters, or 1320 gallons). However, it also has to do with the way whales are able to process the air that goes in. It’s estimated that whales use about 90% of the oxygen that enters their lungs, making the most of each breath. In comparison, humans are estimated to use only about 15% of the oxygen we breathe.

Baggywrinkle Sailing Fact


Baggywrinkle is the scruffy-looking padding made from bits of scrap rope. It is wrapped around part of the rigging (shrouds and spreaders) to protect sails from chafing.

Baggywrinkles have become a rarity in the modern sailing world, but we have witnessed one place where they should make a comeback: Full-batten mainsails are increasingly popular, but when you let the sail out the full battens come in contact with the lower shroud.

Two parallel lengths of marline are stretched between fixed points, and the lengths of yarn are attached using a hitch (knot) called a “railroad sennit”. This creates a long, shaggy fringe which, when the marline is wound around a cable, becomes a large hairy cylinder.

Manilla rope is the answer to flat or droopy baggywrinkle. While baggywrinkle could be made out of any rope (nylon, dacron…), most salty ‘old-timers’ recommend manila rope. The characteristics of the man-made ropes that make them soft and good handling are the opposite of what you want in baggywrinkle.

Manilla rope fibers are stiff and bristly, they also don’t absorb water adding weight aloft in foul weather.

Baggywrinkle  is the "scruffy-looking padding used on shrouds to prevent chafing. chafe against the spreaders or shrouds, wearing away the sail to the point where it could rip in a big blow.

Don’t take me home…

Hermit Crabs
Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are often seen as a “throwaway pet” that live only for a few months even with good care, but some species such as Coenobita clypeatus, can live up to 30-40 (updated) years in their natural habitat.

The Caribbean hermit crab, Coenobita clypeatus, also known as the soldier crab, the West Atlantic crab, the tree crab, and the purple pincher (due to the distinctive purple claw), is a species of land hermit crab native to the Caribbean basin. Adults burrow and hide under the roots of large trees, and can be found a considerable distance inland. As with other terrestrial crabs, they utilize modified gills to breathe air. Their shell helps maintain the humidity necessary for gas exchange to function.

Ceonobita – Greek then Latin = “member of a communal religious order,” “a cloister brother,” “a convent,” from Greek koinobion “life in community, monastery,” from koinos “common” + bios “life”. Living away from others – as a Hermit
clypeatus – Latin clypeus = ‘armed with a shield’

Think of this little song every time you hold a hermit crab and your wishes will come true.

I'm just a poor crab, nobody loves me!
He's just a poor crab from a poor cast!
Spare him his life from this monstrosity!
Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?
We will not let you go.
Let him go!
We will not let you go.
Let me go!
Will not let you go.
Let me go!
Never, never let you go
Never let me go, oh.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Oh, mama mia, mama mia
Mama mia, let me go.
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me.

Adapted from Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen

There are no odes for these podes

Octopus Fact
Octopus Fact

Octopuses are completely deaf.

Sound reasons for silence: why do molluscs not communicate acoustically?

To pluralize Octopus we must use the origin of the word:

  • octopuses is the most common form in the UK as well as the US;
  • octopodes is rare,
  • and octopi is often objectionable.

The Oxford English Dictionary lists octopuses, octopi and octopodes (in that order);
it labels octopodes “rare”, and notes that octopi derives from the mistaken assumption that octōpūs is a second declension Latin noun, which it is not. Rather, it is (Latinized) Ancient Greek, from oktṓpous (ὀκτώπους), gender masculine, whose plural is oktṓpodes (ὀκτώποδες).
If the word were native to Latin, it would be octōpēs (‘eight-foot’) and the plural octōpedes, analogous to centipedes and mīllipedes, as the plural form of pēs (‘foot’) is pedes.
In modern Greek, it is called khtapódi (χταπόδι), gender neuter, with plural form khtapódia (χταπόδια).

Rx from under the sea

Sponge fact
Callyspongia plicifera

Sponges are spineless animals belong to phylum Porifera. Sponges can be immensely helpful in treating many diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and cancer. Chemical from sponges have many antibacterial properties.

Azure Vase Sponge – Callyspongia plicifera

Callyspongi –  Cally- Greek “kallista,” = ‘beautiful, lovely. ‘ Kallista is likely associated with Callisto, a nymph who was a babe. Long story short, she had an affair with her BFF’s dad, Zeus, got pregnant, was shot by the disgusted BFF and, with Zeus’ intervention, became bears set in the sky as stars called Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.
Plicifera – Latin “plici” = ‘fold’, +fera – Greek = ‘bearing

Porifera – Greek = “pore bearer’

Smartest Fish in the Sea? Mantas with PhDs!

Manta Brain
Manta Brain

Mantas have one of the largest brains of all fish! They have a giant rete, web of capillaries and blood vessels, that encases their huge brain and keeps it warm even when diving to incredible depths.

“The gross morphology of their brains resembled the most to that of hammerhead sharks, most likely due to the three dimensional habitat they live, their active and maneuverable lifestyles, highly developed social and migratory behavior and possibly the increased ability of sensory processing thanks to the broad shape of their heads.”

Csilla Ari, renowned manta researcher

By and Large

By and Large
By and Large

By the wind means sailing into the wind as directly as possible.

Large refers to when the wind is blowing from some compass point behind a ship’s direction of travel, “abaft the beam.”

If a ship ship performed well in both situations, she was said to be a good vessel “by and large“, a phrase we use to this day.

The “by” part of the phrase means “close-hauled.” (This “by” also appears in the term full and by, meaning “sailing with all sails full and close to the wind as possible.”)

When the wind is in that favorable ‘large‘ direction the largest square sails may be set and the ship is able to travel in whatever downwind direction the captain sees fit.

Sorry McD it is “By and large” not “Buy the large”.

Frida has nothing on these Cirri

Secretary blenny -  Acanthemblemaria maria
Secretary blenny – Acanthemblemaria maria

Blenny Fact:
The eyebrow like appendages called cirri are used to feel for pressure waves of potential predators.

Secretary blennyAcanthemblemaria maria
Here the Secretary blenny has the cirri above the eye (a supraorbital cirrus.)
Acanthemblemaria maria lives in a hole in a colonial coral or an empty serpulid worm tube. It is often associated with small brain corals, sea fans, sea whips and sea urchins. They are an ambush predator, remaining concealed in its lair with only its head projecting, until a copepod or other small invertebrate prey approaches. At this stage, it darts out, grabs the prey and retreats into its home. The eggs are laid in the lair and are tended by the male, the female taking no part in their care.

Acanthemblemaria: Greek akantha = ‘thorn’ + Greek, emblema, –atos = ‘anything that is nailed, knocked in’
maria: Latin = ‘Mary’
Cirri – Latin cirrus = ‘a curl-like tuft or fringe’