The Beacon

Blog Tags: Creature Feature

Creature Feature: Ocean Sunfish

Ocean sunfish can weigh up to 5,000 pounds.

An ocean sunfish (Mola mola). (Photo: © Mark Harris)

Ocean sunfish, also called the common mola, are arguably one of the ocean’s funniest looking fish. Their back fin that they are born with never actually grows, and instead just folds into itself and forms a blunt, flattened structure called the clavus, says National Geographic. This means that sunfish must swim by flapping their dorsal and anal fins side to side, making them sometimes appear to be awkward swimmers.


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Creature Feature: Leatherback Sea Turtle

This creature feature is on leatherback sea turtles

A leatherback sea turtle hatchling (Dermochelys coriacea) in the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Photo: Tim Calver / www.timcalver.com)

If you’re an ocean lover, you’ve probably heard of the mighty leatherback sea turtle—the largest of the seven sea turtle species. Leatherback sea turtles can grow over six feet in length, and weigh more than 2,000 pounds.  Besides their massive size, their unique appearance makes them easily distinguishable from the other sea turtle species. They lack a solid carapace, and instead have a dense layer of black, leather-like tissue, for which they’re aptly named.


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Creature Feature: Barnacles

Barnacles live in the intertidal zone

Goose barnacle (Lepas anatifera) on a rope, pictured during a 2008 Catamaran Oceana Ranger Atlantic Cantabric Expedition. (Photo: Oceana / Enrique Talledo)

Barnacles are one of the most eerie looking marine creatures that exist. You may have noticed them the last time you visited the beach, attached to docks and boats or perhaps attached to old oyster shells on the beach. In this creature feature, we’re uncovering the secrets behind barnacles that give them their unique look.  


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Creature Feature: Caribbean Spiny Lobster

Creature feature Caribbean spiny lobster

Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) in a giant barrel sponge (Xestospongia muta) in the Elbow Reef, Key Largo, Florida, USA. (Photo: Oceana / Carlos Minguell)

This lobster species is perhaps best known for its impressive navigational skills. Caribbean spiny lobsters orient themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field, and then follow that point to find food at night and for long migrations. During these migrations, they form queues—long, single file lines in groups of 50 that walk day and night until reaching their destination. Lobsters prefer warmer water, so they migrate en masse to deeper waters when water starts to cool in winter.


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Creature Feature: Day Octopus

Day octopus (Octopus Cyanea) photographed in Kona, Hawaii.

Day octopus (Octopus Cyanea) photographed in Kona, Hawaii. (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons / Peter Liu Photography)

In honor of cephalopod week, which celebrates squid, octopus, nautiluses, and cuttlefish all over the world, we’re taking a close look at one of the cephalopod family’s finest masters of disguise: the day octopus. This clever invertebrate has an extraordinary ability to camouflage, making it stand out among its fellow mollusks.


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Happy International Polar Bear Day!

(Photo: Alan D. Wilson / www.naturespicsonline.com) 

It’s International Polar Bear Day! It’s a day created to bring awareness to polar bear conservation, and to simply take a moment to recognize the overall awesomeness that is the polar bear. Polar bears have many extraordinary physical abilities and are stunningly beautiful, so having an entire day of every year dedicated to them is a no-brainer.


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5 Valentine’s Tips from Your Favorite Ocean Animals

(Photo: HarmonyonPlanetEarth)

We humans have developed a few token signs of affection when it comes to love and finding that special person: buy some chocolates, wine and dine by candlelight, and romantic strolls by the beach. We probably think we know best when it comes to showing love, but there are a few creatures in our the oceans that might prove us wrong, and maybe even give us a few pointers. Meet a few ocean animals that are masters of the art of affection.



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Creature Feature: Polar Bear

(Photo: Ansgar Walk)

We’re sure you’re already familiar with the polar bear: a perennial favorite of zoo-goers, Coke commercials,­ and a poster-child for climate change. But we think these big white bears deserve a second look.


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Creature Feature: Atlantic Puffin

(Photo: nigel_appleton)

Fantastic coloring and undeniable charm makes the Atlantic puffin one of the most popular and recognizable seabird species—but there’s a lot more to these sturdy birds than you’d first expect.  


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Creature Feature: Clownfish

(Photo: michael fontenoth)

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.


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