Category Archives: Invertebrates

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.

Etymology
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?
Bismillah!
We will not let you go.
Let him go!
Bismillah!
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?
https://academic.oup.com/biolinnean/article/100/3/485/2450558

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

Etymology
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’

People say spiders are scary, but I am glad I don’t have crinoids hiding all over my house.

Liparometra regalis - Crinoidia - Feather Stars
Liparometra regalis Crinoidia – Feather Stars

Liparometra regalisCrinoidia Feather Stars

Etymology
regalis – Latin = ‘of or pertaining to a king’
Crinoidea – Greek from krinon – ‘a lily’

Crynoid Facts:

  • They’re not plants – Despite their resemblance to flowers, are not plants. They are echinoderms – animals characterized by their rough, spiny surface and 5 fold symmetry.
  • They’re not starfish – They are related to starfish in that they are both echinoids. Like starfish, Crinoids usually have 5 fold symmetry.
  • They eat with their arms – They are filter feeder and they wave their feathery arms which are covered with a sticky mucus to capture food -floating detritus. The feathery arms have growths called pinnules. The pinnules have rows of tube feet on each side of a groove running down the center. The tube feet that cover the arms pass the food to the center where it is put into their mouth.
  • Crinoids are old… really really old – They have been around since the Ordovician period – 490 million years ago. Paleontologists however, think they could be even older than that.
  • You’re more likely to find a crinoid fossil than you are living crinoid – Crinoids today are relatively rare however they were once plentiful and diverse. These echinoderms were at their height during the Paleozoic era (544 to 245 million years ago ). They could be found all over the world, creating forests on the floor of the shallow seas of this time period. There were so many in places, that thick limestone beds were formed almost entirely from their body parts piled on top of each other.

Why would anyone get excited about T. rex, when you have crinoids !

Robert Bakker – paleontologist

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

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’

Discover your Adventure with us!

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.