Noctilucas scintillans- a bioluminescent dinoflagellate also called the sea sparkle.
Posts tagged ocean.
This is a closeup of the tentacles of Portuguese Man O’War (Physalia physalis)
Photo by Simon de Glanville
Because they spend so much time in remote waters, and don’t survive in captivity, great white sharks are deeply mysterious creatures. But over the last ten years, biologists have been able to track them using electronic tags which record their position and depth, and the ocean temperature.
On the face of it, that information can’t tell you what the sharks are actually doing. But Salvador Jorgensen of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, and colleagues have developed a new statistical analysis that picks out patterns of behaviour from the tagging data.
It seems to confirm earlier suggestions that the sharks have a breeding ground in the east Pacific. What’s more, it suggests that the males go there to show off side-by-side in front of the choosy females – cattle-market style.
Watch helplessly as this mussel is slowly & inexorably consumed by a sea star. Oh yeah, you’re watching from inside the shell.
This is so cool! You might not know this about sea stars, but certain species have the ability to invert a portion of their stomach and digest their prey from outside their body. If you’re an invertebrate, you can’t exactly crack open a shell the way a bird can.
This sea star pulls open the mussel shell slightly, inserts its stomach and releases a flood of digestive enzymes that dissolve its prey from the inside. You can watch that happen, sped up in the video above.
No word on whether the sea star also releases a white wine/butter sauce.
(via Deep Sea News)
Photograph by Alessandro Kaitner (via Australian Sea Lion Picture — Animal Wallpaper — National Geographic Photo of the Day)
Ancient Pygmy Pipehorse Species Found
by Helen Scales
Fossils of a new species of pygmy pipehorse—a relative of the seahorse—have been discovered in Slovenia. Scientists discovered the 1-in-long (2.5-cm-long) species—dubbed Hippotropiscis frenki—in a fossil-rich region called the Tunjice Hills, where the team also found the oldest known seahorse fossils in 2009.
Pygmy pipehorses are thought to be an evolutionary link between seahorses and their close relatives, including pipefish and seadragons. The animals share so many features that at first study leader Jure Žalohar and colleagues thought the newfound fossils belonged to another type of ancient seahorse. Modern pygmy pipehorses also look and behave a lot like seahorses—pygmy pipehorse males, for instance, care for their fertilized eggs in a special pouch.
“The only major difference is that [pygmy pipehorses] do not swim upright,” Žalohar, a geologist at the University of Ljubljana, said by email…
(read more: National Geo) (images: Jure Žalohar)
Starfish eating fish.
“How does a dolphin (or other sea mammal) sleep without drowning?
(Part of “Joe’s Answer Bag Week”)
How? Very carefully.
Aquatic mammals have a unique challenge when it comes to sleeping. They have a voluntary respiratory system (as opposed to our mostly involuntary one), meaning that they have to come to the surface, actively open the flap of skin covering their blowhole, and then take a breath. But they also need to sleep. How do they do it?
Observations of dolphins have shown biologists that they sleep either floating still at the surface (called “logging”, a deeper sleep) or by swimming very slowly, usually with another dolphin around. You might be wondering “But Joe, how can they swim if they are asleep?”, to which I say “Nice to see you’re paying attention …”
Dolphin sleep is not like human sleep. I couldn’t find any examples of them reaching anything like our deep REM sleep. Instead they seem to do something that resembles napping. They are able to “shut off” one half of their brain and the opposing eye, with the other half staying awake to watch for danger and to control the voluntary breathing. Infant dolphins get pushed along in their mothers’ slipstream while resting, since their lack of buoyancy means that they have to swim or sink. And all whales have the ability to tolerate much more carbon dioxide in their blood than we can, allowing this sleep/breathe trade-off to work.
So while dolphins spend about as much time per day as we do in a sleep-like state, they space it out throughout the day, and can be more active at night when there’s lots of squiddy snacks to be had. Every animal needs rest, especially one with the brain energy demands of a dolphin. They’ve just evolved a very unique and useful way to get that rest.
I’d like to take a moment to appreciate the awesomeness of the creature known as Pycnopodia helianthoides aka the sunflower sea star. This sea ‘star’ grows anywhere from 16 to 24 appendages, hardly star-like. Feeding on members of its own phylum (sea urchins), and family (other sea stars), it ejects its stomach from itself, engulfing its prey and liquefying it, leaving nothing but their skeletons.
They can be found all along the Pacific coast from southern California to Alaska; the largest inhabit the waters of the Puget Sound, British Colombia, and Alaska.
new favorite animal.
A translucent body disguises a larval flounder to keep it safe from predators. It will lose this defense mechanism later in life. Flounder undergo several striking physical transformations during their lifetimes. Very young flounder swim upright and have an eye on each side of their face. As they age the fish begin to swim on their sides and one eye slowly migrates until both are on the body’s “top side.”
Photograph by David Liittschwager, National Geographic
Fish Out of Water: Five Ocean Species We’re Eating to Death
The prickly little sea urchin isn’t the only one in danger—consumers have taken a serious jab at oceanic ecosystems with their collective knives, forks, spoons, and chopsticks. Thanks to human appetites, for some species of ocean dwellers, there just aren’t that many fish in the sea.