Blog Tags: Creature Feature
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.
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.
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.
Like something out of your nightmares, the fangtooth (Anoplogaster cornuta, Anoplogaster brachycera) lurks in the darkest depths of the ocean. Wielding huge, saberlike teeth, the fangtooth has the largest teeth in the ocean relative to body size. The phrase “relative to body size” is important to remember here, however: the larger of the two species of fangtooth reaches a maximum length of just 6 inches, rendering these tiny balls of ferociousness harmless to humans.
After a gigantic eyeball washed ashore in Ft. Lauderdale last week (likely belonging to a swordfish) this week the ocean reminded us again what mysteries lurk in the deep when a 15 foot oarfish washed up on the Baja Peninsula.
By oarfish standards, though, 15 feet is scrawny. This little known and poorly understood creature has been documented to reach 36 feet in length making it the longest bony fish known to man. Reports of specimens topping 50 feet in length are not uncommon, and the fish is a likely inspiration for tales of sea serpents in centuries past. Oarfish live in tropical and temperate waters worldwide at depths of up to 3,300 feet, drifting in open ocean currents and feeding on fish, crustaceans and squid, but they are almost never seen or caught alive and little is known about their behavior.
Residents of Cabo San Lucas who struggled but failed to save the fish, were shocked to find it swimming in their waters, as were a group of Navy Seals who came upon a 23 foot oarfish during training in Coronado, California in 1996 (below).
Apart from its length, oarfish are also notable for the brilliant red mane which crowns its head as well a dorsal fin that starts between its eyes and runs the length of its body.
- Baby Sea Turtles Found to Make Noise to Coordinate Hatching Posted Mon, July 28, 2014
- Staff Spotlight: Jackie Savitz Posted Mon, July 28, 2014
- Ocean News: Cape Cod Embraces Shark Spottings, Rare White Southern Right Whale Calf Spotted off Australia, and More Posted Tue, July 29, 2014
- No-Take Zones in Belize Could Rebuild Conch, Lobster, and Grouper Populations Posted Tue, July 29, 2014
- Impacts of Climate Change on Highly Migratory Species Prioritized in NMFS Management Plan Posted Tue, July 29, 2014