The brightly-colored clownfish needs no introduction—the reef fish is one of the most recognizable fish in the world. But aside from being the star of Disney’s “Finding Nemo,” the clownfish has some impressive adaptations and a strange life history.
There are actually 30 species in the clownfish family, but two are the orange-striped fish everyone knows from the big screen. The orange clownfish (Amphiprion percula) and the ocellaris clownfish, or false clownfish, (Amphiprion ocellaris) look nearly identical, but they’re actually two different species. If you get close enough, you can tell them apart by counting the number of dorsal spines on their backs—the orange clownfish has 10 and the ocellaris clownfish has 11.
There’s no doubt that harp seal pups are perilously cute. But did you know that once they grow up, these seals migrate thousands of miles each year?
Named after the dark, harp-shaped patterns on the backs of adult seals, harp seals are widespread in the chilly waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. They spend their summers far north, and then migrate south each winter to breed on the pack ice.
Chances are you’ve seen an emperor penguin before—at least in photographs or while watching the movie Happy Feet. But did you know that these charismatic birds are one of the hardiest species on the planet?
Forget the brown and gray stingrays that you’re used to—the blue-spotted ribbontail ray (Taeniura lymma) puts their drab coloring to shame with its olive skin and large, neon-blue spots. Also known as the blue-spotted fantail ray, these vibrantly-colored creatures are found on coral reefs throughout the Indian and western Pacific oceans.
For today’s Creature Feature, we’d like to introduce you to a new species of humpback dolphin—so new, in fact, that it doesn’t even have a name!
Humpback dolphins are a family of dolphins with a distinctive hump beneath their dorsal fins, similar to the humpbacked whale. Growing to about eight feet in length, they range in color from dark gray to white to light pink.
When it comes to sea creatures with superhero powers, the common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) might take the cake: with jaw-dropping camouflage abilities, ink, and incomparable intelligence, the octopus is every marine biologist’s dream (and every prey species’ nightmare).
If you asked the artist Salvador Dali to dream up an ocean creature, he might have designed something very much like the leafy seadragon, one of the ocean’s most uniquely beautiful creatures. Covered in gossamer ruffled appendages, the characteristic tassels and frills that adorn the leafy seadragon’s head and body serve as spectacular camouflage, baffling both predators and prey, and make the seadragon all but invisible among seaweeds and kelp beds.
You won’t find land-dwelling lizards scampering about coral reefs, but you might do a double-take when you see the reef lizardfish. Also known as variegated lizardfish, these strange reef-dwellers look surprisingly like lizards. They’re found in coral reefs throughout Indonesia and along the coast of India and northern Australia.
Instead of our weekly Creature Feature, we’d like share an awesome new finding about one well-known ocean creature, the blue whale. Scientists discovered that earwax can reveal amazingly details about the life of whales, according to a study published last week in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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.