The not so “Green” Moray Eel…


Photo Credit: Caitlin Kinnett

It was almost like a dream, finding this eel.  Where most often Morays are found hidden in crevices they call their home, I found this one wide out in the open, almost as if he were “frolicking through the fields”.  On top of that, he seemed to have found a friend.  A grouper, almost the size of me, had the most peculiar attachment with this eel.  While this group of scuba divers seemed to be no threat, the eel and the grouper danced together, spinning around each other as if they were on stage in Broadway.  It was a moment  I will never forget, the eel and the grouper, best friends forever.

Photo Credit: Caitlin Kinnett

The Green Moray Eel was one of the most peculiar creatures I have seen.  Bizarrely enough, the “green” Moray is actually brown!  It is the tint of the yellow mucus cover, and the dark background of its’ home, that gives off a bright green looking color.  This long slender eel is built perfectly for the water, as the muscular body is laterally compressed.  The thin connected fins from the  dorsal to anal fins aid in directing the eel, while the caudal (tail) fin allows even more control as it undulates through the water.

As this sea serpent looking eel looks threatening by displaying its large sharp teeth when opening and closing its mouth, in reality, the eel is simply taking in water to breathe.  This water passes through the mouth, over the gills, and exits through vent-like tubes located in the back of the head.

Photo Credit: Caitlin Kinnett

Being “sit and wait” predators, these eels hide out in their coral homes using their tube like nostrils to sense out their oblivious prey.  They feed mostly on crabs, octopus, squid, and fish that pass by.  There is a large range of size in diet, as these eels can reach up to 8 feet in length, weighing up to 65 lbs.  Though this particular eel was found in the reefs of Cozumel waters, Green Morays can be found in the Western Atlantic, the northern Gulf of Mexico, and southern parts of Brazil waters.

Train your… sea slug?


A new case of How to train your dragon… or your sea slug.

This slug is commonly known as the Sea Swallow (Glaucus Atlanticus).  He is briliantly colored to warn off any dangerous enemies.  These crazy little guys pack a powerful punch, as they feed off of the poisonous Man of War Jellyfish, while collecting the toxins in oder to store them in their wavy little fingers.  Their ability to collect this poison, allows them to be even more powerful than the Man of War itself!  ouch!

These cool creatures live in the open ocean (pelagic zone) throughout the oceans of the world.  They can mostly be found where the Man of War Jellyfish live, in the Eastern and Southern Parts of South Africa.  They spend the majority of their life floating upside-down on the tops of the water.

These Sea Swallows tend to swallow prey that would appear to be dangerous and harmful.  They feed off of not only the venomous Portuguese Man of War, but also several other venomous species such as the by-the-wind-sailor, the blue button, and the violet snail.  They may even become cannibalistic at times.

Their fingerlike projections (cerata) are feathers of venomous nematocysts that the slug derives from it’s preys poisons.  It uses a gas filled sac in it’s stomach to rise to the surface, where they float dorsal side down.  They are countershaded, with magnificent blue on the dorsal surface, and silver grey on the ventral surface.  The blue protects the slugs from predators below, and the silver grey from the predators above.

It is not yet known on how they move, some say it is by wind, some believe they may actually use some sorts of body parts.  These slugs are hermaphroditic, able to carry both male and female reproductive organs, and produce egg strings after reproduction.

Sublime!

Enjoy the video!

It’s a fish, it’s a lip, it’s an egg sac?


Question:  How many fish do you think are in this photo below?

Answer: None!!!  The thing that looks like a fish, is actually the mouth parts to the Broken Ray freshwater mussel.  If you have the passion of fly fishing, you have nothing on these little guys.

Broken Rays Mussel (Lampsilis reeveiana) have evolved a special adaptation that allows their existence to be certain.  They have evolved with a built in fishing lure!  The thing is, this lure is not used for what you might think.  Most lures are used for catching their prey, but this lure is instead a parasitic sac filed with thousands of tiny Mussels.

What happens, is as the fish are lured in for a nibble, but as soon as the fish touch the sac, the mussel blasts the fish with it’s tiny parasitic offspring (glochidia), which will reside in the fish’s gills until fully developed.  The parasitic larva attach themselves to the gills.  They have the ability to develop a cyst on these blood-rich tissues, allowing them to be protected and nourished until they are developed, which can be anywhere from 10 to 30 days

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These mussels look like any average bivalve mollusc, but what defines them as this species, is this extended fleshy mantle that they are able to control it’s contractions in order to look more like a fish.  Obviously, the better the imitation of a fish, the better chances these Mussels will be able to continue it’s genetic line.

 (See attached video, it is truly sublime).