Today's Catch

Aug 30, 2013
How do we know what coral reefs looked like hundreds of years ago? Often times, we are simply left wondering. Scientists can get an idea from naturalist recordings, but there are many unknowns and they are relying on interpreting personal observations. The landscape of coral reefs has certainly changed since 1846, when Joseph Jukes recorded his impressions of the Great Barrier Reef, and there is...Read more
Aug 29, 2013
Credit:

Michael Bear, Flickr

Swimming by a black sea nettle may be a bit of a shock. These large jellyfish can grow to be over three feet in diameter, and their tentacles can be over 25 feet long. Despite their large size, much about them is still unknown, and they are relatively new to science: black sea nettles weren't an official species until 1997! This is because they are rarely observed in the wild, preferring calm...Read more
Aug 28, 2013
Credit:

Choo Yut Shing, Flickr

The Japanese spider crab is a large catch for any fisherman. With a leg span of 13 feet (4 meters) and an average weight of around 40 pounds (16-20 kg), it claims the title of largest crab. It may also have the longest lifespan of any crab, living to be 100 years old. However, Japanese spider crabs do not survive very long without injury. Their long legs are weak , and a study found that three-...Read more
Aug 27, 2013
Credit:

João Pedro Silva, Flickr

The blue-spotted stingray ( Taeniura lymma ) doesn’t like to be covered in sand like other species of stingray do. Instead, it prefers to show off its beautiful blue spots and, to stay up to the best standards, it needs the help of cleaner fish. These cleaner fish remove parasites from larger fish. Their coloring gives them a sort of uniform, which lets the larger fish know not to eat them. Other...Read more
Aug 26, 2013
Credit:

NASA Earth Observatory, Flickr

When hurricanes blow through an area, they don’t just have an impact on humans. These intense wind events also cause great damage to the ecosystems (pdf) they touch. They harm marine animals by spewing pollution and debris onto their habitats. While there are a few animals, such as sharks and dolphins, that can sense the change in air pressure as a hurricane approaches and swim away, many animals...Read more
Aug 23, 2013
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
Aug 22, 2013
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
Aug 21, 2013
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. 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 other, causing them to stick together in pods. This can be...Read more
Aug 20, 2013
Credit:

L. Madin, Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst. (WHOI) (www.cmarz.org)

In the Coral Triangle, a biodiverse area between Indonesia and the Philippines, scientists discovered this swimming polychaete (bristly worm), which they have dubbed the "squidworm." Using a remotely operated vehicle, the researchers with the Census of Marine Zooplankton (CMarZ), a project of the Census of Marine Life , dove 1.8 miles (2,800 meters) to first discover Teuthidodrilus samae in 2007...Read more
Aug 19, 2013
Credit:

Tony Brown, Flickr

The Eastern cleaner-clingfish ( Cochleoceps orientalis ) has its job title in its name: “cleaner.” They prove invaluable to larger fish by removing parasites to keep the larger fish clean and healthy. To do their job, Eastern cleaner-clingfish move by clinging onto different surfaces instead of swimming themselves. They can hold onto kelp or sponges with a strong grip before moving onto a fish...Read more

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