Nudibranch Facts, by the Numbers

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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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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Coral Reefs Ring, Scientists Say

CORAL REEFS “RING,” ACCORDING TO NEW RESEARCH. You may not hear it above your bubbles or the cacophony of surges or the clacking of snapping shrimp that contribute to the sounds we hear underwater. But, if listened to properly, the reefs may be able to tell us about their health. IT’S THE BUBBLES More specifically, algae on the reef produces ringing sounds as it goes about its business of photosynthesizing H2O molecules into simple-sugar nutrients

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Bluehead Wrasses – An Egg-Raid Video and an In-Depth Spotlight

A bluehead wrasse raid on a bicolor damselfish egg nest, caught on video.  IF YOU’VE DIVED IN THE TROPICAL ATLANTIC/CARIBBEAN, you’ve almost certainly seen bluehead wrasses. Of course, most of them weren’t blue. The blueheaded members of bluehead wrasse world are terminal-phase males, or supermales. Despite their high visibility, they make up no more than 10 percent of a given bluehead wrasse population. The overwhelming majority of bluehead wrasses are yellow – juveniles or initial-phase

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Haunting Video of a Stray Narwhal Adopted by Belugas

YOUNG WHALES ARE SOMETIMES KNOWN TO WANDER, but a lone, stray narwhal has apparently wandered into a pod of young beluga whales – and stayed. And  been accepted as one of the boys. The narwhal – identified by his iconic long tusk and gray-spotted body – has apparently been swimming with the white-bodies belugas in the St. Lawrence River for the past three years. The setting is far south of narwhals’ usual habitat in the

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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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A Newly Discovered Coral Reef on America’s Doorstep

A NEWLY DISCOVERED CORAL REEF off the U.S.’s mid-Atlantic coast  stretches for some 85 miles, dense with stony Lophelia pertusa, a branching deep-sea, cold-water coral. A half-mile below the ocean surface, the “new” reef has “mountains” of coral, according to researchers. It’s situated about 160 miles off Charleston, S.C. DEEP SEARCH – A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY The newly discovered coral reef was identified by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies as

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Octopuses on Ecstasy Become Huggy

GIVING THE PARTY DRUG ECSTASY TO OCTOPUSES may sound like a joke from a slacker movie. Some news stories about the research have taken a humorous tack, talking about how octopuses on Ecstasy become huggy. But, in fact, the study has a serious goal and may result in improved understanding of evolution and treatment of human afflictions like post-traumatic stress disorder. IT’S ABOUT THE GENES Johns Hopkins University’s Gül Dölen and Marine Biological Laboratory’s Eric

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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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The Difference Between Jellyfish and Comb Jellies

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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