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Fish Hunting Parties

ANIMALS IN THE OCEAN ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR FOOD (and trying to avoid being food). Some times it involves more than one animal. On Bonaire, one year, I encountered several instances of group fish hunting. Sort of. There’s a known phenomenon called Nuclear Hunting in which a small eel (like a goldentail moray) and one or more other fishes (like rock hinds) meet up, identify a nearby coral head as a target site and race toward

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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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Black Coral: Many Colors – But Rarely Black

BLACK CORALS ARE PROBABLY BEST KNOWN AS SHINY, JET BLACK JEWELRY, but in their underwater habitats as living coral they’re more likely to be found in shades of soft reds, greens, yellows and other colors. They’re not stony corals – they grow in complex linear structures resembling trees, bushes or sea fans. The “black” part is the protein-based chitin that comprises the skeletons on which dense colonies of identical, individual polyps reside. In other words,

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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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The Specifics of Species – By the Numbers

1)   THE GENERAL DEFINITION OF SPECIES IS THAT THEY ARE GROUPS OF ORGANISMS that are like each other and can produce offspring with the same traits. While member of a species can sometimes produce hybrid offspring with another species, those offspring should not be able to reproduce.  2)   Within each species of gene-directed traits, there are inevitably genetic variations that favor some as environments change and work against others. As succeeding generations adapt to these changing circumstances,

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Banded Coral Shrimps – 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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Yellow Stingrays – Where’s Waldo?

WHERE’S WALDO? That might be the question this yellow stingray (Urobatis jamaicensis) hopes we’re asking, as it fluffs up sand to try to hide itself. In this case it didn’t work since we watched it approach and then proceed to bury itself – most ineffectively. YELLOW STINGRAY FACTS   U. jamaicensis typically measures 12 to 15 inches across, excluding the tail (although the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium, which has yellow stingrays in its collection, says they

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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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Puffers Sleeping, Brittlestars at Work

THE MARKINGS OF THE FISHES AT LEFT AND LOWER RIGHT suggest members of the genus Canthigaster, sharp-nosed puffers often known as toby’s that are found in the Indo-Pacific. But the specific designs and colors are sufficiently different from the familiar black saddled toby (Canthigaster valentini) to suggest they’re not described in any of the references I have access to. CANTHIGASTER POSEIDONSWEBUS   But there are a lot of fishes in the sea, so to speak, and

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