Basic information about invertebrates on the reef

The Difference Between Jellyfish and Comb Jellies? No Sting!

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JELLYFISH AND COMB JELLIES?  They both come in blobby shapes and gelatinous, transparent bodies. But comb jellies – ctenophores – are entirely different from their oceanic jellyfish neighbors. Most importantly: They don’t sting. And some of them put on fantastic light shows. Note that I said “neighbors,” not “cousins.” The difference between jellyfish and comb jellies runs far deeper than the absence of stinging.  Recent research suggests that combs evolved with

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Flying Scallops – An Awesome Video!

UNLIKE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE BIVALVE FAMILY, SCALLOPS CAN FLY. And flying scallops make for an amazing sight! Well, actually scallops swim, by jetting along underwater, as shown in this awesome video from East Coast Divers, my old dive shop in Brookline, Mass. NEITHER A BURROWER NOR AN ATTACHER BE Like other bivalves – clams, oysters and mussels – scallops share the basic anatomical structures of other members of Phylum Mollusca. As members of Family

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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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The Moon Snail Mystery

FOR A LONG TIME, DURING MY NEW ENGLAND DIVING DAYS, the moon snail (Eupira heros) represented a mystery to me, because I kept seeing these structures I knew were moon snail “sand collars,” mucus-bound masses of sand that were said be be egg-laden, except that there didn’t appear to be any eggs. SANDY SAND COLLARS:  SAND COLLAR MYSTERY SOLVED Then, one day, I found this: BIGFOOT SIGHTED! Thinking about moon snails brings to mind the theme

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Horseshoe Crabs Need Some Love

HORSESHOE CRABS ARE “LIVING FOSSILS,” a group of animals that have been on Earth since before the dinosaurs. Beside being intriguing members of the web of life in their own right – they’re not actually crabs, but four species in a far different arthropod family – they immensely benefit us all. BLOOD WILL TELL   Their bluish, coppery blood is regularly harvested for a unique clotting agent that is used to test for bacterial contamination during the production

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Lobsters: Babies on Board

WE GET LOBSTERS FOR DINNER BY CATCHING THEM ON DIVES (okay, or buying them in the store) but the process really begins with lobsters begetting more lobsters in the ocean.Lobster reproduction is a lengthy, arduous journey that takes as long as 20 months from mating to hatching. During much of that time a female lobster carries her eggs around on her underside, protecting and nourishing them. FIRST: MOLT YOUR SHELL AWAY    Like their crustacean

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Christmas Tree Worms on the Reef: Beautiful (and Wormy)

EVERYBODY RAVES ABOUT THE BEAUTY OF CHRISTMAS TREE WORMS, with their fantastic arrays of bright colors and shapes like perfect fir trees. And, they make for terrific Christmas cards. The wormy bodies behind the gorgeous finery, maybe not so much. The spiraling crowns we see are specialized tentacles, called radioles, that filter plankton from the  surrounding waters for food, passing it down to the worm’s mouth in cilia-lined grooves. They also work like “gills” to

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Six Ways in Which Algae is Our Friend

ALGAE COMES IN EIGHT GAZILLION DIFFERENT FORMS, from tiny little slimy green stuff to giant kelp, and to most of us it seems obnoxious and a thing to be ignored, if not despised. Except that algae is the foundation of the food chain, a pioneer in the evolution of life, and essential to our existence.  Algae uses sunlight to photosynthesize the carbon dioxide and hydrogen in water into the simple sugars that are nutrients for

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For Sea Spiders, It’s All in the Legs

SEA SPIDERS ARE CREATURES WITH LONG LEGS radiating from tiny central bodies. In a class of marine arthropods called Pycnogonida, they’re found in more than 1,300 species in oceans all over the world LOOKS SIMILAR, WORKS VERY DIFFERENTLY    The only association they have with terrestrial spiders is … a physical appearance of long legs and tiny central bodies. Other than that, they are totally unlike real spiders, or anything else, for that matter. IT’S ALL IN

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Octopuses’ Skin May Be One Big Eye

CEPHALOPODS – OCTOPUSES, SQUIDS AND CUTTLEFISHES – are renowned for their ability to change colors and mimic surroundings like corals and other structures. In 2010, scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., began researching the role of molecules called opsins, found in both cephalopod eyes and skin, with the idea that perhaps the animals skins helped them see. CUTTLEFISHES NO, OCTOPUSES YES   Although their research with cuttlefishes and squids failed to prove

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