Marine Life Around World

Jellyfish

September 6th, 2017

They key to the jellyfish’s 500-million-year uninterrupted reign on this earth is its adaptability. Jellyfish can range from infinitesimal sizes to sizes larger than freight carriers! The 200 classified species can be anything from the fingernail-size star-shaped stalked jellyfish,which is native to northern Pacific waters, to the giant Lion’s mane, which lives in arctic waters and can grow up to eight feet in diameter, with tentacles spanning 100 feet. Some jellyfish are luminescent, others live upside-down, and some possess stings that can cause excruciating pain for ages.

Soft Coral

August 16th, 2017

Soft corals are members of the phylum cnidaria, a group of stinging celled animals that include anemones, jellyfish, hydroids, sea-pens, the the true corals and other coral-named groups. Soft corals acquired their name from their fleshy and flexible forms which are constructed of a bizarre assembly of structural elements that help the corals to keep their shapes and support their form. As you can see, the lack of the external hard, calcareous skeleton hte small and large polyp stony corals possess make it easy to distinguish the soft corals from the stony corals. Soft corals are found worldwide, more in tropical than temperate reefs, mainly in depths of 5-30 meters.

 

Zooanthids

August 2nd, 2017

Zooanthids are an order of cnidarians commonly found in coral reefs, the deep sea and many other marine environments around the world. These animals come in a variety of different colonizing formations and in numerous colors. They can be found as individual polyps, attached by a fleshy stolon or a mat that can be created from small pieces of sediment, sand and rock.

Zooanthids feed both by photosynthesis, aided by the zooxanthellae they contain, and by capturing plankton and particulate matter. Although photosynthesis aids in their nutrition, even species that do not actively capture plankton cannot live through photosynthesis alone. Zooanthids can eat meaty foods such as brine shrimp, krill, and bloodworms.

Clownfish

July 5th, 2017

Clownfish are also known as anemonefish, which is a genus of the pomacentridae family and consists of 29 recognized species. They primarily inhabit coral reefs in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are also found as far north as the Red Sea and inhabit the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia. They are not native to the Atlantic/Caribbean Oceans or the Florida Keys.

You can find a clownfish exhibit at the Key West Aquarium. The clownfish in the exhibit were aquacultured at ORA (Oceans Reefs and Aquariums) in Ft. Pierce, FL. Farm raising is a common practice for this species due to the increase in their popularity. Aquaculture reduces the collection of wild caught marine specimens in high demand and diminishes our impact on the environment.

Creature of the Deep Sea

June 15th, 2016

Similar to the Black Devil, the Fangtooth resembles what a monster you might see in a horror movie, stays in the deep waters, and reaches a maximum of 6 inches in length.

When comparing the size of teeth to the proportion of the body, the fangtooth has the largest teeth of any fish in the world.

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Lionfish Invasion

May 31st, 2016

The lionfish, a relative of the scorpion fish, is naturally distributed throughout the western Pacific from Southern Japan to Micronesia, Australia, and the Philippines. The lionfish inhabits reefs form about 10 to 175 meters in depth. The  most probable explanation for the arrival of the lionfish population in the Atlantic Ocean is via the aquatic pet trade and their careless release. In the U.S., the lionfish has rapidly increased in population abundance from the first reports as little as 5 years ago. Lionfish are now as abundant as many native grouper species in the Atlantic Ocean. They are relatively quick to adapt to new prey types and rapidly learn to avoid deadly prey. Feeding primarily on small reef fish and crustaceans, lionfish may also compete with native piscivores by monopolizing this important food resource.  The reduction of coral reef fishes suggests lionfish have the potential to decrease the abundance of ecologically important species such as parrotfish and other herbivorous fishes that keep seaweeds and microalgae from overgrowing corals.

In an effort to control the lionfish population the “Lionfish Derbies” were introduced in 2009. A lionfish derby is a team competition to collect as many lionfish as possible. Teams have between dawn-to-dusk and can use a variety of capture methods while either SCUBA diving, free diving, or snorkeling. Prizes are awarded to the teams the most, biggest, and smallest lionfish caught. Derbies have been held in the Bahamas, Florida Keys, and throughout South Florida and have resulted in the removal of thousands of lionfish.

A Deep Sea Mystery

May 18th, 2016

What makes the Black Sea Devil a deep sea mystery is there is less known information about it than the giant squid.

What we DO know is this:

A Female black sea devil can grow to be about the size of a baseball. The males are even smaller and are actually more of a parasite than a fish. In order to survive, the males must bite on to the female. Their tissues will fuse together, and the male provides sperm while the female sustains the male.

Black sea devils have a gaping mouth, needle-sharp teeth, a slightly startled expression,  and a lure atop their head that lights up. It’s unknown if there is a pattern for the illumination or if the light is continuously kept on. This lure is used to attract prey.

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For most of us, when we hear the word “squid” we either think of fishing bait or calamari. For Scientists, we can assume that they think of the Giant Squid– one of the largest mysteries of science.

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To see a live giant squid is a privilege not many have had. Most of everything scientists know about the giant squid has come from carcasses hauled in from fisherman or being washed up onto shore.

They are the largest invertebrate on Earth. The largest ever found of the species measured 59 feet in length, and weighed a ton. The largest found (while fishing off the coast in Japan) while still alive was 24 feet in length.

Identical to other squid species, they have eight arms and two feeding tentacles which help them bring food to their beak-like mouths. Their eyes can grow to be the size of beach balls (about 10 inches in diameter). Having large eyes allows them to detect other objects in the deep depths of the ocean where other animals would see nothing. Their diet primarily consists of fish, shrimp, and other squids.

The giant squid maneuvers their massive body with fins and use their funnel as a propulsion system, which draws water into their mantle and then they force it out the back.

 

Do you like going to the beach? Sunbathing and playing in the sand? Have you ever wondered if it was imported or not? I’m pleased to inform you that the sandy beaches of the Florida Keys are all natural, recycled excrement of the beautiful, locally fed parrotfish. That’s right, excrement!

Parrotfish adopted their name from having a fused-beak structure– like a parrot! A parrotfish’s diet is primarily algae. To eat, they use their beak to pulverize coral to reach the algae filled polyps hiding in the coral reefs. Sand is ground-up, undigested remains of coral. SO, thanks to parrotfish we are able to have sand on the sea floor, sand bars, and beaches.

Another reason why the name parrotfish is so fitting for the marine animal (closely related to the wrasses) is like a parrot, they are very colorful. There are several different types of parrot fish- the Key West Aquarium houses rainbow parrotfish and  midnight parrotfish.

Like the wrasses, parrotfish use their pectoral fins to swim. Occasionally for speed they use their tail fin. The largest of the parrotfish family is the bumphead parrotfish found in the indo-pacific, measuring more than 4 feet and reaching a weight of 100 pounds. The average size for the 80 identified species of parrotfish is 1-4 feet and they can live up to 7 years.

Parrotfish can be spotted either by their unique coloring or by the clouds of waste that trail behind them as they swim.

Like most fish, male parrotfish contain harems of females. This means that in the event of there being no dominant male in a school, the largest female changes gender and color to become the dominant. This transition is not just scale deep, the new male, once fully transitioned can mate with the remaining females in the school.

Similarly to how humans wear pajamas to bed, a parrotfish produces mucus bubbles blown from their mouths and creates a translucent nightgown to protect themselves while in slumber. Scientists have a theory that this mucus gown masks their scent and therefore makes it harder to be found by nocturnal predators such as parasites and moray eels.

You won’t find many places in the United States that serve parrotfish, but in some places in the world, like Polynesia for example, will consider it a delicacy. In Polynesia, parrotfish was once considered “royal food” and was only eaten by the king.

Choosing which characteristic is most remarkable is a difficult task. What feature sticks out most to you?

 

Save the Seahorses

November 4th, 2015

What exactly is a seahorse? Well, it’s a fish! It’s horse-shaped head gives it it’s name. Other features include their monkey-like tail, and their color changing abilities like chameleons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What makes seahorses endangered? Their preferred habitats are coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds and estuaries, which are threatened by development and water pollution.

Threats to the seahorse include:

  • Legal and illegal trade for ornamental display (sold dried as souvenirs), aquarium fishes, and traditional Chinese medicine. More than 20 millions of seahorses are estimated to be traded each year for Chinese medicine. Hundreds of thousands of seahorses are sold for the aquarium trade driven primarily by North American. Most of these seahorses are juveniles where they usually die within a short period.
  • By catch in the shrimp trawl and other fisheries off of Florida, Mexico, Central America, and South America.
  • Habitat degradation and destruction due to coastal development, marine pollution, coral reef destruction, and land-based deforestation. Deforestation leads to increased siltation in surrounding marine waters, thereby suffocating sea grass bed and killing coral reefs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun facts about seahorses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• They use long snout to absorb tiny shrimp, fish, and plankton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• In a seahorse’s life cycle, the male is the one to give birth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Male can give birth to up several hundred young from one pregnancy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• They are cousins to pipefish and sea dragons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• They lack teeth, a stomach, and a caudal fin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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