Sea Pigs: Amazing Sea Cukes You’ll Never See

IF IT LOOKS LIKE A PIG AND IT WALKS LIKE A PIG AND IT’S UNDERWATER, THEN IT MIGHT BE A…SEA CUCUMBER. Specifically, a member of the genus Scotoplanes. Or, to its multitudinous fans worldwide, a sea pig. Whereas most of us are used to seeing sea cucumbers that actually more or less resemble cucumbers in body shape, Scotoplanes species like S. globosa really do remind people of pigs. Plump, pink and sporting rather porky “legs,”

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Octopuses & Squids: Support Your Local Cephalopod

TO BE SURE, CELEBRATING OCTOPUSES, SQUIDS AND THEIR COUSINS DOESN’T NEED A SPECIAL DATE. But it’s Cephalopod Week, so here are some awesome cephalopod facts, by the numbers:   1.   Cephalopods, best known by octopuses and squids, are remarkable for their braininess, and also their brains. Physically, their heads are often larger than their bodies, which perhaps explains why they’re very smart, as well. The term cephalopod is taken from the Greek for, literally, “head-feet.”

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Squid Reproduction: Don’t Mess with Squid Eggs!

SOMETIMES, DURING DIVES, YOU ENCOUNTER THESE THINGS attached to the bottom. They’re squid eggs. Here’s a hint: Don’t Mess With Them! Remember Kirk Douglas battling the giant squid in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? It’s could be like that. Maybe. MAKING MORE SQUIDS Squid reproduction is a complex process that involves fertilization following the transfer of a male squid’s sperm – in the form of a single bundle called a spermataphore – into a female’s central

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Babies on Board: How Lobsters Reproduce

WHETHER WE CATCH THEM OR BUY THEM, the process of having a lobster for dinner begins with lobster eggs – the tasty crustaceans begetting more of the same in the ocean. How lobsters reproduce is an 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 STEP TO LOBSTER EGGS: MOLT YOUR SHELL

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Banded Coral Shrimp – A Dance, a Wave & Maybe a Nice Massage

BANDED CORAL SHRIMPS MAY BE THE FRIENDLIEST CREATURES ON THE REEF.  Well, they’re always waving at us. Waving, that is, their super-long white antennae trying to attract passing divers – okay, passing fishes, actually – to come over for a little close-up cleaning. With their prominent tentacles, red-and-white banded bodies and outsized claw limbs, they’re high-profile members of the fish-cleaning profession that’s also inhabited by anemone shrimps, cleaning gobies and other little (often-juvenile) fishes. Found in

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Porcelain Crabs Drop a Little Leg When Necessary

IF IT LOOKS LIKE A CRAB AND IT WALKS LIKE A CRAB, THEN IT MIGHT BE A PORCELAIN CRAB, which is a different thing entirely. Which leaves the question: What’s the difference between true crabs and porcelain crabs? They’re both decapods – crustaceans that resemble each other with hard outer shells and 10 appendages, including walking legs extending on their sides and large claws out in front. They both walk sideways, or “crab-like.” But the

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Horseshoe Crabs: Weird, Wonderful & Amazing

WEIRD AND WONDERFUL CREATURES, HORSESHOE CRABS are survivors from life’s earliest times who almost certainly have saved your life. And, they’re almost spiders. For the record, they’re not crabs in any way. If all that sounds overblown, consider the following horseshoe crab facts: 1)   THEY’RE WEIRD & WONDERFUL Beneath their dome-like carapaces, horseshoe crabs walk around the seafloor on 10 legs and they view the world with 10 eyes spread around their bodies, some on

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Feather Duster Worms Speak with Quiet Grace

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FEATHER DUSTER AND CHRISTMAS TREE WORMS? For one thing, the conical feathery crowns of Christmas tree worms shout out their presence with color and beguiling shapes. Feather dusters’ fan-shaped crowns often whisper with subtle elegance. If it’s simply about appreciating the beauty of the reef, that’s the main point – conical versus fan-shaped, bold versus muted. It’s the fan shape that gives feather dusters their other common name, fan worms.  

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Stomach-Everting, Arm-Regenerating Starfish Explained

BOTH LITTLE KIDS AND MARINE BIOLOGISTS KNOW STARFISH BY THEIR FIVE ARMS. The starfish anatomy that lurks underneath a starfish’s bumpy skin is another thing (To be clear, the biologists know sea star facts, the rest of us not so much). There are 1,500 to 2,000 species of starfish, or sea stars, found in oceans worldwide, in pretty much every depth and type of habitat. They’re all alike in general architecture but come in a myriad

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Watch How Starfish Walk…and Bounce

WITH FIVE ARMS STRETCHING IN FIVE DIRECTIONS, you’d think that starfish could move along the seafloor like Indiana Jones. In fact, usually they creep along on hundreds of little tube feet that line the undersides of those arms. But, researchers studying how starfish walk found something else: sometimes starfish bounce along for speed. As echinoderms in Class Asteroidea, starfish walk by operating their multitudes of little tiny feet through intricate networks of fluid-filled canals. With

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