“Japan Pigs” & Tuna-Herding Sea Lions

Hippocampus japapigu, a newly discovered species of pygmy seahorses. Photo Credit: Hiroyuki Motomura via Wikimedia Commons.

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Researchers have added a new species of pygmy seahorse to the six already known, according to an article in National Geographic. Compared in size to grains of rice, Hippocampus japapigu – “Japan pig” – is tiny but active, playful and adorable, according to the international team of scientists who documented it. The little guys had been observed by divers for some time but the scientists realized it was an undocumented species with distinct characteristics. They published their findings in the journal ZooKeys. For moreon  pygmy seahorses’ camouflage skills, here’s a terrific video on a on a different species Hippocampus bargibanti, by the estimable PBS series Deep Look.

The Australian Broadcasting Company points out that even fish can get the bends when brought to the surface too abruptly. Most fish control buoyancy through swim bladders that add or release gas from their blood streams as they change depth. A sudden transition from deep to shallow water – on a fisherman’s hook or at a dam – can cause the gases in the bladder to rapidly expand, causing serious injury. But there are ways to mitigate the problem.

Surfers, swimmers and divers who might worry about meeting up too closely with a great white shark have a range of shark-repelling devices to utilize. Hakai Magazine reports that scientists tested five of them in an actual study. Despite their manufacturers’ claims, they concluded the things don’t really work.

The genes that underlie the development of shark scales follow the same patterning methods that underlie mouse hairs and chicken feathers, as reported in Science Daily. Scientists at the United Kingdom’s University of Sheffield found that the pattern aligned with the reaction-diffusion theory explaining hair and feathering patterns put forth some 60 years ago by Alan Turing, the British mathematician best known for breaking the German Enigma code during World War II.

Sea lions in the Galapagos – with the Pacific sardines they normally hunt increasingly scarce – have developed a new technique for capturing a more difficult prey, according to the California Academy of Science magazine bioGraphic. With remarkable images by naturalist photographer Tui De Roy, The Tuna Herders   reports that The sea lions team up to capture tuna by driving them into shallow coves, trapping and devouring them before they can escape.

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