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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How to Treat Stings: Jellyfish & Fire Coral

  LET’S TALK ABOUT HOW TO TREAT STINGS. My front page post, “Nematocysts and the Science of Sting,” discusses the way jellyfish, fire coral and other cnidarians bring about their painful stings. On dive boats, in dive shops and, of course, on the internet there are lots of theories about how to treat stings by cnidarians – most of it more urban legend than factual. Here are some facts, culled from medical resources. THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T

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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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How Sharks Smell Blood – Superbly, But Not Miles Away

HOW SHARKS SMELL BLOOD IS FAR MORE INTERESTING than their mythical ability to detect the scent of “a drop of blood miles away.” Scientists disproved that legend long ago, although you may still find it in cheesy movies and on shark-week type reality shows. Sharks do have an amazing sense of smell, but their long-range detection capabilities are limited to several hundred yards rather than miles, many authoritative sources suggest. And one study suggests that

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To Define Plankton, Think: “Ocean Food Bank”

THE PLANKTON IS ONE OF THE KEYSTONES OF THE OCEAN FOOD CHAIN. In fact, it’s one of the most important elements of life in the sea. And, yet, every time I mention the word, seek to talk about plankton, discuss plankton, define plankton, I can hear eyes roll all across Planet Earth. True, plankton doesn’t have the same excitement attached to it as, say, a celebrity punching a shark on You-Know-What Week. On the other hand,

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Species Names: Why the Scientific Naming System Matters

THE COMMON DOLPHIN COULD BE THE POSTER FISH FOR THE SCIENTIFIC SYSTEM OF SPECIES NAMES. Yep, poster fish, not one of the 40 or so species of the charismatic marine mammals. This one’s definitely a fish, despite its common name. The fishy dolphin is shaped vaguely like a baseball bat with a long dorsal fin and a dour expression. Found in open waters around the world, it’s regarded as a good sport fish, as a

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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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