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Species Names: Why the Scientific Naming System Matters

THE COMMON DOLPHIN COULD BE THE POSTER FISH FOR THE SCIENTIFIC SYSTEM OF SPECIES NAMES. Yep, poster fish, not one of the 40 or so species of the charismatic marine mammals. This one’s definitely a fish, despite its common name. The fishy dolphin is shaped vaguely like a baseball bat with a long dorsal fin and a dour expression. Found in open waters around the world, it’s regarded as a good sport fish, as a

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Corals Eating Jellyfish: Who’d Have Thunk It.”

AT FIRST PASS, “CORALS EATING JELLYFISH” SOUNDS LIKE AN OXYMORON. But newly published research confirms that for at least one variety of stony corals, the concept of corals eating jellyfish is indeed a reality. Moreover, these tiny colonial animals appear to work together to capture and devour the much larger jellies. It’s the first described case of “protocooperation” among corals, say the authors of the article published in the journal Ecology. NORMALLY CARNIVORES, ANYWAY Coral polyps

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Baleen Whales Are Just the Size they Ought to Be

 IN THE HUNTER/GATHERER EQUATION, FILTER-FEEDING BALEEN WHALES came down on the gathering side millions of years ago.  Gathering – in baleens’ case taking the form of filtering shrimp-like krill and other crustaceans, small fishes and phytoplankton out of the ocean waters with great baleen plates in place of teeth – has made them much more efficient feeders than their toothed cousins. A study by researchers at Stanford University suggests that the largest whales grew to

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Sea Cucumbers – Superheroes  of the Seas

TO MOST DIVERS, SEA CUCUMBERS WOULD SEEM LIKE THE INACTION FIGURES of the oceans. Mainly, they come off as inert, sausage-shaped lumps lying randomly on the sandy bottom and perhaps the least interesting obects on the reef. In fact, some of them have real Captain Echinoderm moves in them. For one thing, they’re nocturnal so what you see in the daytime isn’t what you’d get at night, when they creep around on their little tube

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Stromatolites – The First Reefs, Living Fossils

SOME TWO BILLION YEARS AGO THE CLOSEST THING TO LIVING REEFS ON OUR PLANET were widespread masses of stromatolites, mounds of cyanobacteria and sediment held together by calcium carbonate they secreted. Before they arose to dominate the seas, the earth was a hellish place. Afterwards, it was a world on the road to the evolution of life as we know it. FOREBODING PLANET    Before stromatolites, the planet was largely a worldwide ocean, with landmasses no

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The Hamlet Grand Slam

WHO KNEW THAT SPOTTING LITTLE GUYS LIKE BUTTER AND BARRED HAMLETS could be challenging? I’ve thought of them as fairly bland little fishes of modest interest. I’m aware of occasionally seeing vivid blue indigo hamlets (Hypoplectus indigo) in Bonaire and Belize but not the other 10 or so species to be found around the tropical Atlantic/Caribbean. Which sounds fishy considering that Humann and DeLoache’s Reef Fish Identification says barred hamlets (Hypoplectus puella) constitute the most

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