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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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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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 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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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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Seahorses Are Super-Predators – An Awesome Video

IT MAY BE EXCITING TO FIND SEAHORSES ON DIVES – but watching them is like watching grass grow. They’re inept swimmers, so they rarely swim unless they have to.  But it turns out that seahorses are super-predators, more than 90 percent effective at bagging their prey – mostly tiny shrimp and copepods. WHY SEAHORSES ARE SUPER-PREDATORS – ANATOMY & SPEED One study using high-speed video to record seahorses’ movements found that the seahorse’s curved-body architecture

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A Great Fish Backscratch, Caught in an Awesome Video

SOMETIMES THERE’S NOTHING BETTER THAN A GOOD BACKSCRATCH. Clearly, the same is true for fish. I referenced this video at the end of an earlier post on fish “flashing,” a fishy habit of rubbing fish their bodies on the seafloor, possibly to scrape off parasites, or possibly in search of a good fish backscratch. A FISH BACKSCRATCH WORTH REPOSTING This video is so delightful I decided to post it in its own right. It’s a

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“The Fastest Punch in the World”

MANTIS SHRIMPS ARE PARTICULARLY AGGRESSIVE CRUSTACEANS with exceptional traits. One is their ability to smash hardshelled prey with lightning strokes. As this awesome Smithsonian Channel video shows, the mantis shrimp punch is perhaps the strongest, fastest left hook in the ocean. The mantis headlines earlier this year focused on their complex eyes and exceptional vision (seethe Poseidon’s Web post How Mantis Shrimps See – With Polarity). Even more impressive – and worrisome to fishermen who may accidentally

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Pearlfish and their Sea Cucumber B&B

A POST HERE SEVERAL MONTHS AGO closed with the “Really Odd Fact” that blenny-like pearlfish (Periclimenes imperator) have a habit of taking up residence in the … well…rear ends of sea cucumbers. The overall post, “Sea Cucumbers – Superheroes of the Sea,” was about the fact that sea cucumbers, often ignored as inert, unimportant creatures, actually had a lot to recommend them.  THE PEARLFISH/CUCUMBER EQUATION The pearlfish/cuke interaction is generally described as commensal relationship, but that term implies a

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