Who’s Who and What’s What among invertebrates, from arrow crabs to yellow stingrays.

Seeing Sea Anemones – for Themselves

SEA ANEMONES ARE PROBABLY BETTER KNOWN FOR THE COMPANY THEY KEEP than for their unassuming, hard-working selves. On Caribbean dives, I rarely pass by one without checking it out for exotic little cleaner shrimps that might be in residence. If there aren’t any, I’m disappointed and move on. In the Pacific, of course, you hardly have to check them out to be aware of their frenetic, constantly on-the-move, high-visibility companions – clowns and other anemonefishes.

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Sea Pigs: Amazing Sea Cukes You’ll Never See

IF IT LOOKS LIKE A PIG AND IT WALKS LIKE A PIG AND IT’S UNDERWATER, THEN IT MIGHT BE A…SEA CUCUMBER. Specifically, a member of the genus Scotoplanes. Or, to its multitudinous fans worldwide, a sea pig. Whereas most of us are used to seeing sea cucumbers that actually more or less resemble cucumbers in body shape, Scotoplanes species like S. globosa really do remind people of pigs. Plump, pink and sporting rather porky “legs,”

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Banded Coral Shrimp – 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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Horseshoe Crabs: Weird, Wonderful & Amazing

WEIRD AND WONDERFUL CREATURES, HORSESHOE CRABS are survivors from life’s earliest times who almost certainly have saved your life. And, they’re almost spiders. For the record, they’re not crabs in any way. If all that sounds overblown, consider the following horseshoe crab facts: 1)   THEY’RE WEIRD & WONDERFUL Beneath their dome-like carapaces, horseshoe crabs walk around the seafloor on 10 legs and they view the world with 10 eyes spread around their bodies, some on

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Feather Duster Worms Speak with Quiet Grace

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FEATHER DUSTER AND CHRISTMAS TREE WORMS? For one thing, the conical feathery crowns of Christmas tree worms shout out their presence with color and beguiling shapes. Feather dusters’ fan-shaped crowns often whisper with subtle elegance. If it’s simply about appreciating the beauty of the reef, that’s the main point – conical versus fan-shaped, bold versus muted. It’s the fan shape that gives feather dusters their other common name, fan worms.  

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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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Barnacles: Sticky Crustaceans Explained

AS ANIMALS THAT SPEND THEIR LIVES HIDDEN INSIDE HARD, PROTECTIVE SHELLS, IT’S EASY TO OVERLOOK BARNACLES. In fact, they may be subtle but they’re fantastic, busy little guys, always working the plankton for edibles. Need evidence? Here are some random barnacle facts. 1  Acorn and gooseneck barnacles are both crustaceans in the cirripedia subclass – cirripedia reflecting their singular adaptation of their legs into cirri used for capturing prey. 2   They’re the only crustaceans that are

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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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