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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 Nematocysts & the Science of Sting

NEMATOCYSTS ARE OCEAN STINGERS’ SECRET WEAPONS. In fact, they are the stingers. The way in which nematocysts sting is a story of the sneaky, harpoon-like ordnance of Phylum Cnidaria – jellyfish, coral and gorgonian polyps, sea anemones, fire corals and hydroids. If you happen to touch a sea anemone, a sea plume or coral tentacles (which you shouldn’t do), you’re likely to not feel their sting. Actually, you’ve probably been stung, ineffectively. Those animals’ stingers

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how cuttlefish hunt

How Cuttlefish Hunt – an Awesome Video

THE FIRST REASON FOR WATCHING THIS VIDEO OF A FLAMBOYANT CUTTLEFISH stalking a shrimp is that it’s a fascinating view of how cuttlefish hunt and capture their prey. The second  is that it’s a flamboyant cuttlefish – that’s its street name – an astoundingly dramatic, colorful creature described as the “flamenco dancer of the cuttlefish world” by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium (MBA), which produced the video. A FRONT-PAGE FEATURE SIDEBAR I get into the characteristics and

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This Walking Cuttlefish Makes a Colorful Statement

WHENEVER THE FLAMBOYANT CUTTLEFISH MAKES ITS ENTRANCE, it does so with flair, a walking cuttlefish that lives up to its diva-like street name. The Monterrey Bay Aquarium, which breeds them, describes them as “the flamenco dancers of the cuttlefish world.” Small and rare, flamboyants (Metasepia pferreri) are singular among cephalopods in that they live on (or hover near) the ocean bottom. They’re the only walking cuttlefish, moving along the seafloor on arms and fins. As most sources see it,

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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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Conch Eyes & Zen

FOR MANY OF US, DIVING IS ZEN, A MEDITATIVE EXPERIENCE. For me, communing with our fellow travelers under the sea is a major part of it. Spending time on the sandy bottom contemplating a queen conch while its (somewhat eerie) conch eyes contemplate me is a part of that. Some places are better for conch fellowship than others. I’ve found friendly conchs at Little Cayman, Roatan and in the Bahamas (this queen conch specimen was

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Rambo Rules: An Octopus Takes Photos of People

FINDING A FRIENDLY OCTOPUS ON YOUR PHOTO SHOOT DIVE IS A RARE JOY.  Sony Corporation and Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium in Auckland, New Zealand, turned the tables. The concept: An octopus takes photos of people. The octopus is Rambo, so named because he wrecked two camera systems in the course of the training.  RAMBO RULES Of course, the concept in which an octopus takes photos of people is a long-running performance art commercial for Sony’s TX30 camera,

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Sea Pearl Algae – A Species Spotlight

IF IT LOOKS LIKE A RUBBER BALL AND IT FEELS LIKE A RUBBER BALL, IT MUST BE…ALGAE, a version commonly called a sea pearl (Ventricaria ventricosa). Sea pearl algae is an occasional reef denizen found worldwide that stands out because it so often looks like a delicate glass ball. Typically about the size of a golf ball, sea pearls are remarkable for their structure. Each one is a single cell, all by itself. Its round,

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Bioluminescent Firefly Squid: “Flashes of Brilliance,” bioGraphic

THREE INCHES LONG, MOSTLY DEEP-WATER DENIZENS and found in Japanese waters, bioluminescent firefly squid (Watasenia scintillans) are not particularly familiar to western divers. But once a year, female fireflies come to the surface in large, nightly aggregations and put on dazzling shows of light. “The squids’ twinkling displays have captured scientists’ attention since the early 20th century, and have helped researchers better understand the chemistry of bioluminescence,” says science writer Elizabeth Preston in “Flashes of

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