The Beacon

Blog Tags: Cool Marine Creatures

Creature Feature: Magnificent Frigatebird

Yes, that’s a bird, and yes, it’s supposed to look like that. (Photo: Mark Vance)

Magnificent frigatebirds aren’t the beauty queens of the bird world, but they do get points for bold style. These seabirds have a seven foot wingspan and an inflatable, bright-red throat sac under their bills that they used in elaborate courtship displays. Only the males have these sacs—female frigatebirds have a non-inflatable white neck, making them the only seabird species where the males and females look very different.


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The Amazing Disappearing Octopus

Now you see me, now you don’t. (Photo: Snailgenie) 

This amazing video has been making the rounds on the internet for a while, be we still couldn’t resist sharing it with you! You may know that an octopus can change the color of its skin to blend in with its surroundings. But did you know they were this good?


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Creature Feature: Loggerhead Sea Turtle

A loggerhead sea turtle. (Photo: Wendell Reed)

If you're a fan of sea turtles, you might have heard about the mighty loggerhead sea turtle. Growing 2 to 3 feet long and weighing in at a massive 165–350 pounds, loggerheads are heavier than many people. These reptiles are actually the second-largest marine turtle (only the leatherback is larger.) Named for their hefty heads, loggerheads are found in tropical and temperate waters around the world.


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Creature Feature: Lionfish

Up close and personal with a lionfish

Up close and personal with a lionfish. (Photo: Kjeld Friis)

It’s venomous, voracious, and taking over reefs across the western Atlantic.

This strange-looking predator is a lionfish, a.k.a. Pterois volitans. Native to Indo-Pacific reefs, lionfish are anything but subtle. The large, striped spines protruding from their bodies are their main defense, filled with neurotoxic venom to deter predators. While the venom isn’t deadly to humans, running afoul of a lionfish isn’t fun—side effects include excruciating pain, headaches, difficulty breathing, and vomiting. Lesson learned: don’t mess with a lionfish. 


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Marine Monday: Blue Buttons

Blue buttons are just one of the many small critters that live in the oceans. They are often mistaken for jellyfish or colored plastic when they wash up on beaches, but they are actually free-floating colonies of hydrozoa.

Blue buttons have two main parts: the central disk, which is about an inch across and yellow brown, is a hard flattened bubble that holds gas to keep the blue button floating. Attached to this disk are a type of bluish stinging polyp, which act as tentacles, although the blue button itself does not have a powerful sting—it can only cause minor skin irritation.

In the center of the disk, a larger central polyp acts as a mouth for food intake and waste removal for the entire blue button colony. Blue buttons eat live and dead small fish, eggs, and zooplankton.

The blue button cannot swim; it relies on drifting on currents and wind to move through the ocean.

Pretty cool, huh?


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