Fact of the Day
Shark Week started last night! (And how great was ‘Ultimate Air Jaws?!”)
Oceana is a partner in Shark Week this year, and it’s my favorite week of the year, so I’m going to keep the celebration going with daily shark facts!
The scalloped hammerhead shark is just one of the many species of hammerhead shark, all of which have the characteristic t-shaped head.
Ghost crabs are named for their sandy coloring, which allows them to blend right into their surroundings. These crabs eat at night and burrow during the day in burrows up to three feet deep.
Ghost crabs can move quickly in any direction and their large eyes can see 360 degrees. Male ghost crabs participate in ritualistic displays to settle disputes and rarely physically combat.
Go to Oceana.org/Explore for more fun animal info and check back tomorrow for a shark-filled FOTD!
The subject of today’s FOTD is the Christmas tree worm, or spirobranchus giganteus for those of you who prefer the scientific name.
Christmas tree worms are embedded in the surface of corals by the calcareous, shell-like tubes in which they live. They have two beautiful, feathery spirals (which look like little Christmas trees) that extend into the water column and are used for filter-feeding and breathing. At the slightest disturbance, the Christmas tree worm retracts into its tube in the coral for safety.
My favorite thing about these worms is their variety of vibrant colors and patterns- check it out!
See you tomorrow for another random FOTD! And if you’re like me and you just can’t wait for more, go to Oceana.org/Explore.
Only one more week until Shark Week!
So in preparation for the upcoming shark fest, today we will talk about the basking shark. Basking sharks are the second largest fish in the world. (Pop quiz - what is the largest fish in the world? I’ll give you a hint: I have already written a FOTD about this kind of shark.)
These sharks are filter feeders so they just swim around with their mouths open, collecting plankton and other tiny creatures while filtering out hundreds of thousands of gallons of water every hour. The water is filtered through the shark’s characteristically large gill slits on the sides of its head.
Check out Oceana.org/Explore for more shark info and see you tomorrow for another FOTD!
What is one inch long, matches the corals in which it primarily lives, and has a prehensile tail?
You guessed it (or read the title of today’s FOTD)- a pygmy seahorse!
Pygmy sea horses are less than an inch long and are really well camouflaged to match the gorgonian corals they inhabit. These tiny seahorses use their prehensile tails to sturdy themselves and further blend into their surroundings for protection.
Today’s FOTD involves a short story.
A few years ago, I was stung by a jellyfish while taking my first surfing lesson in Australia. It hurt so much that I could hardly walk! We kept a close watch on my breathing while I was rushed to a pharmacy to get ice and some truly magical anti-sting medication. (Thank goodness for that stuff!) After looking at my swollen and scarred legs, my instructor guessed that though I never saw my attacker, it was likely a young box jellyfish.
The tawny nurse shark is a nocturnal shark, swimming and hunting during the night and returning to the same location to rest during the day. These bottom-dwelling sharks typically look for small overhangs, caves or other slightly protected areas as their resting grounds and occasionally even rest in groups. Tawny nurse sharks are known to be docile and generally ignore humans unless provoked.
You may recognize this funny looking marine mammal as the large, talking cartoon whale from Will Ferrell’s “Elf” but the narwhal (or “corpse whale” in Old Norse) actually is a very real toothed whale that lives in cold, Arctic waters.
Only male narwhals have the characteristic long tusk, which is actually a super long tooth that can grow up to 10 feet. It is unknown exactly what purpose this tooth serves but scientists do know that it is not used for hunting.
Today’s Fact of the Day is about the beautiful hawksbill sea turtle.
This sea turtle has a particularly breathtaking carapace (or top shell). Unfortunately, as a result, hawksbill sea turtles were poached as the main source of tortoise shell goods for hundreds of years and are now in danger of extinction.
Unlike other sea turtles, when hawksbills are on land they walk using diagonally opposite flippers, rather than moving their front flippers in tandem as they do when they swim.
Today’s FOTD is on the Pacific angel shark. While Pacific angel sharks may closely resemble rays, a few distinctive characteristics define them as sharks. First, the pectoral fins of Pacific angel sharks are partially separated from their heads, while rays have pectoral fins that are entirely attached to their heads.
Also, these sharks have gill slits on the sides of their heads, while rays have gills on the bottom of their heads. Finally, the mouth of the Pacific angel shark is on the front of its head, rather than on the bottom of its head like a ray’s mouth.
Pacific angel sharks are the perfect marine example of why you can’t judge a book by its cover!
Be sure to check out Oceana.org/Explore for your weekend fact fix and I’ll see you Monday!