Category Archives: Marine Life

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

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.

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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