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Barnacles at Work

BARNACLES HAVE BEEN DESCRIBED AS SHRIMP THAT STAND ON THEIR HEADS AND FLYFISH WITH THEIR FEET. Despite the hard mollusk-like shells they build, acorn and gooseneck barnacles are crustaceans, related to shrimps, crabs and lobsters. Look closely and you’ll see fine, feathery extensions constantly being flicked into the current from within those shells, like expert fishermen casting and recasting into a stream. The creatures within use these “cirri” – adapted leg-like appendages – to capture

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The Moon Snail Mystery

FOR A LONG TIME, DURING MY NEW ENGLAND DIVING DAYS, the northern moon snail (Euspira heros) represented a mystery to me. 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  MOON SNAIL SAND COLLAR MYSTERY SOLVED Then, one day, I found this: BIGFOOT SIGHTED! Thinking about moon snails brings to

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Nudibranchs: Fantastic Mollusks Explained

THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF DIVERS: THOSE WHO ARE BONKERS ABOUT NUDIBRANCHS and those who ought to be. For those in the second category, here are some nudibranch facts. First, as the name “nudibranch” suggests – it’s from the Greek for “naked gills” – nudibranchs absorb their oxygen from the water through external breathing structures located on their backs. There’s great variation in gill architecture among the many species of nudibranchs, from flamboyant to demure. And

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Nudibranch Colors: Awesome Defenses

WITH FLAMBOYANT SWAGGER, NUDIBRANCH COLORS CALL ATTENTION TO THEIR SLUGY TORSOS – and that’s the point. As beautiful as they are, nudibranchs’ bright markings are statements telling potential predators to leave them alone. In brief, nudibranch tissues tend to be foul-tasting, if not toxic. Nudibranch’s colors are warning signs to potential predators that they’ll regret attempts to dine out on their nudibranchy flesh. There are other nudibranch defenses in the mix, as well. Some have

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The Ultimate Wreck Dive You’ll Never Do

HIDDEN IN THE BLACK SEA FOR MORE THAN 2,400 YEARS, an ancient Greek shipwreck sits tantalizingly intact, awaiting visitors – one mile below the surface. It’s the ultimate wreck dive nobody will do except with ROV’s or manned submersibles. The 75 ft-/23 m-long ship, believed to be a trading vessel dating from about 400 B.C., sits on the bottom tilted towards its starboard side, with its mast still erect, its rowing benches in place, its

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 Diving with Manta Rays: Atlantic Giant Manta Encounter

DIVING WITH MANTA RAYS WAS SORT OF A DISTANT FANTASY. I just wanted to see them. The giant Atlantic mantas I had seen in the past were fast-moving and, mouths agape, totally focused on sweeping up the plankton they make their livings on. Suddenly here, there, gone. Spending extended time in close-up choreography with one of these gentle giants was not in my vision. Until it was. The dive was at Flower Garden Banks National

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Manta Rays: Gentle Giants Explained

1)  THERE ARE TWO SPECIES OF MANTA RAYS – OCEAN MANTAS (MANTA BIROSTRIS) AND REEF MANTAS (MANTA ALFREDI). M. birostris is also sometimes known by the names giant ocean manta and Atlantic giant manta. Mantas are the largest members of the ray family and among the largest fishes in the sea. 2) Oceanic mantas are found worldwide, often reported as swimming great distances across oceans. They generally prefer tropical and subtropical waters. 3) Reef mantas are

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 Fish Buoyancy – How Our Finny Friends Stay Neutral (Unless They Don’t)

ONE THING IS CLEAR – FISH HAVE BETTER BUOYANCY THAN YOU.  And, they don’t have to press any buttons. Many bony fishes have built-in versions of the buoyancy-compensators that divers use to control their position in the water versus changing ambient pressures. In these fishes’ case, it’s an internal gas-filled sac called a swim bladder that automatically works to counteract the ambient pressures applied by the waters surrounding it and keep the fish at neutral

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This is a Photo of Arrow Crabs. Really!

IT MAKES SENSE THAT YELLOWLINE ARROW CRABS would want to hang out with long-spined sea urchins. After all, it should be a gimme that these crustaceans with 10 long, thin legs would seek to blend in with urchins whose most visible features are long, thin spines. On the other hand, the sources seem to put Stenorhynchus seticornis all over the place – atop sponges, sea fans and other gorgonians, under and next to sea anemones.

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Bluehead Wrasses on an Egg Raid – An Awesome Video

AS A STUDENT OF LIFE UNDER THE SEA, I’m always curious about behaviors. So when, on a dive, I saw a pack of little yellow initial-phase bluehead wrasses streaking toward a distant point, naturally I followed them. They were almost certainly on an egg raid. Blueheads are notorious for plundering the egg nests of other species of fish, particularly damsels and blennies. BLUE HEADS & YELLOW BODIES To be clear, bluehead wrasses get their name from the

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