Category Archives: Facts

Short, Single Subject posts

Whale flight

Humpback Feeding
Humpback Feeding

Humpback whale feeding on herring. It scientific name is Megaptera and literally means mega wings.

Etymology
Humpback – is derived from the curving of their backs when diving.
Megaptera –  Greek mega– “giant” + ptera ‘wing’ refers to their large front flippers.
novaeangliae – French = “New Englander” and was probably given by Brisson due to regular sightings of humpbacks off the coast of New England.

Like a kite string in the sky

Tropicbird
Tropicbird

White-Tailed TropicbirdPhaethon lepturus

  • Tail Streamers are white and can be up to seventeen inches long.
  • Forages by plunging into water from flight, submerging briefly; sometimes by swooping down to surface without striking water, taking flying fish in the air.
  • May feed most actively in early morning and late afternoon.
  • Courtship displays include two birds flying gracefully in unison, one above the other, with higher bird bending tail down to touch tail of lower bird.

Etymology
Phaethon – Greek mythology- son of Helios; killed when trying to drive his father’s chariot and came too close to earth
epturus: Greek leptós = ‘slender, thin’, and +ourá = ‘tail’

Songs and Calls:

A piping “keck-keck-keck

Horns, Horns on my head…

Manta Horns
Manta horns

The distinctive ‘horns’ on either side of its broad head are actually derived from the pectoral fins. During embryonic development, part of the pectoral fin breaks away and moves forward, surround the mouth. The way the horns develop is surprisingly simple. All it takes is a tiny notch that deepens and widens as the manta grows, separating each fin into two distinct parts: one for feeding and the remainder for swimming. This give the manta ray the distinction of being the only jawed vertebrate to have novel limbs. These flexible horns are used to direct plankton into its mouth.

Oh, give me a horn on the sides of my head
Where I keep them rolled up all tight;
And where the food is just right I reach out to bite
And the plankton is funneled precisely in.
Chorus
Horns Horns on my head…

Jon B – from Home on the Range

Lt. Ellen Ripley’s least favorite fish.

Angelfish Mouth
Angelfish Mouth

Due to an extra joint in their jaw design, Angelfish can protrude their upper and lower jaw out away from their had and then bite really hard, something other fish can not do.

A big angelfish can extend its jaws a couple of inches. They can reach into nooks and crannies on the reef. They are powerful biters. They can yank.

Oh and yes, the title is an homage of the movie Alien

Nautical Mile Fact

Nautical_Mile
Nautical Mile

A Nautical mile is based on the circumference of the earth, and is equal to one minute of latitude (1/60th of a degree). It is slightly more than a statute mile (1 nautical mile = 1.1508 statute miles.) Nautical miles are used for charting and navigating.

Side note:
Degrees of latitude are parallel so the distance between each degree remains almost constant but since degrees of longitude are farthest apart at the equator and converge at the poles, their distance varies greatly.

Each degree of latitude is approximately 69 miles (111 kilometers) apart. The range varies (due to the earth’s slightly ellipsoid shape) from 68.703 miles (110.567 km) at the equator to 69.407 (111.699 km) at the poles. This is convenient because each minute (1/60th of a degree) is approximately one nautical mile.

A degree of longitude is widest at the equator at 69.172 miles (111.321) and gradually shrinks to zero at the poles.

Creole Wrasse Fact: How that pot gets stirred.

Creole Wrasse Fact
Creole Wrasse

Creole wrasseClepticus parrae – are protogynous hermaphrodites; the largest fish in a group is a dominant breeding male, While smaller fish remain female. If the dominant male dies, the largest female changes sex.

Protogyny is the most common form of hermaphroditism in fish in nature. About 75% of the 500 known sequentially hermaphroditic fish species are protogynous.

Wrasses are always on the go during the day, but are the first to go to bed and the last to rise.

Etymology
Clepticus: Greek, kleptikos = ‘related to thieves’

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.

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