Today's Catch

Jan 21, 2015
Credit:

Flickr User Mouser NerdBot

These star-shaped grains of sand, collected from southern Japan, look like miniature works of art -- but they were not sculpted by an artist. They are the shells of microscopic organisms called foraminifera , which build intricate shells from the calcium carbonate they collect while drifting through the water. Their shells have settled on the seafloor for 500 million years, and are used by...Read more
Jan 20, 2015
Credit:

Flickr user Jenny Huang (JennyHuang)/EOL

Two bright orange anemonefish ( Amphiprion ocellaris ) poke their heads between anemone tentacles. Anemonefish are able to swim amongst the stinging tentacles without getting stung — but no one knows exactly sure how. One dominant theory explains that they have a protective slime coating their bodies. However, anemonefish are not born with this protective slime and scientists don't know how they...Read more
Jan 15, 2015
Credit:

Kevin Bryant, Flickr

The pearly razorfish’s name may be slightly misleading since it is neither as rare as a pearl nor as dangerous as a razor. It is a common fish that tends to live in clear shallow areas near seagrass beds and coral reefs, where it collects coral debris to build its nests. However, even having a home may not be enough to put this skittish fish at ease. When startled, the pearly razorfish will...Read more
Jan 14, 2015
Credit:

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

White abalones are slow-moving, algae-eating mollusks. Rapid overharvesting since the 1970s has resulted in white abalones becoming the first marine invertebrate listed as endangered on the Endangered Species Act in 2001 . The population is struggling to recover because they need a mate nearby in order to breed—a difficult task with a small and scattered population. A 2010 assessment stated that...Read more
Jan 13, 2015
Sea turtles face many obstacles throughout their lives—net entanglement, light pollution, mistaking plastic for food—among the many that are caused by humans. Get a glimpse of what goes on behind-the-scenes of a sea turtle hospital in North Carolina that works to rehabilitate sea turtles so they can return to the wild. As the narrator explains, after all the hard work put into working with an...Read more
Jan 12, 2015
Credit:

Hendrik Schicke, Flickr

When hoping to discover a pearl, looking inside one of the oysters you slurp may not be the best plan. Food oysters in the family Ostreidae are able to produce pearls, however these tend to be small, irregular, and worth very little . Most pearls strung on necklaces come from pearl oysters, which are in a whole different bivalve family! Pearl oysters create pearls when a hard particle is coated...Read more
Jan 8, 2015
In coastal towns and cities, vast areas now inhabited by super markets, houses, roads, parking lots, hotels and schools were once occupied by mangrove forests . Growing out of the ocean and onto the land, mangrove trees serve many important roles. Mangrove forests play host to nurseries for baby fish and shrimp. They ward off climate change by absorbing and storing excess atmospheric carbon...Read more
Jan 7, 2015
Credit:

Bo Pardau, Flickr

The false killer whale (pdf) ( Pseudorca crassidens ) is a large dolphin that, despite its name, is not closely related to the killer whale, although they are both in the same family, Delphinidae . Instead, it's named for similarities in their skull shapes, as the first false killer whale was described from a fossil in the mid-1800s. They are very social animals and form strong bonds with each...Read more
Jan 6, 2015
Credit:

Tony Brown, Flickr

The blue-lined octopus may be small, growing to at most 15 cm, but it can be deadly: its venom can cause breathing failure in humans as well as other animals. Turtles can accidentally consume the octopus when grazing and drown due to the immobilizing toxins. The blue coloring serves as a warning since it only appears when the octopus is aggravated. Even though the blue lined octopus is more...Read more
Jan 5, 2015
Credit:

United States Department of Defense

On March 1, 1954, the United States military tested nuclear bombs in the ocean around Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean to see what kind of damage they would do to ships. The largest explosion was set off 90 feet underwater: nicknamed "Castle Bravo," the bomb blasted a crater 2 kilometers (more than 1.2 miles) wide in the coral reef and obliterated ocean life in the area. Smithsonian scientists...Read more

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