Posts Tagged With: oceans
Happy World Oceans Day
Raccoon + Butterfly= Fish
We met another great animal during our snorkel trips- this time a wonderful reef fish- the raccoon butterflyfish! Meet them with us!
Raccoon Butterflyfish Fun Facts:
- These Butterflyfish average 8 inches long.
- They are nocturnal.
- These carnivores each small invertebrates and nudibranch.
- They have large eyes.
- They prefer shallow reefs.
- They have a false eyespot to fool predators.
These little fish are fun! They are popular in aquariums too. We love their bright coloration!
We spent the last few days snorkeling in and around the reefs around these magically islands. We met so many spectacular animals and we are sharing one with you today!
Spotted Moray Eel:
- Spotted morays can grow up to 6 ft long and weigh up to 5 1/2 lbs.
- These carnivores eat fish, mollusks and crustaceans.
- Spotted morays have two sets of jaws. The first set is in the front of their mouths. The second set is in the esophagus. The second set of jaws grabs the prey and pushes it down the throat.
- They have poor eyesight. They use their excellent sense of smell to locate prey.
- They are nocturnal.
- Typically spotted morays are nocturnal.
- They are listed as Threatened by the ICUN.
We had a blast snorkeling and it was even more special to meet the shy and elusive eels. They love to hide among the coral and in crevices in the rocks!
We Are Fanimaly!
It’s Hippo Day and we are doing a We Are Fanimaly! Today we are discovering that hippos closest living relative is the whale! Whaaaaaa? You ask! That’s right they share an ancient ancestor millions of years ago and then went on very different paths!
- Hippos and Whales split on the evulotionary line about 54 million years ago.
- Whales once had feet and walked on land, before they evolved in to fins.
- Hippos and whales have multi-chambered stomachs. They do not regurgitate their food like rumanents though. The food works it way through the chambers before going to the true stomach.
- Marine mammals have one lobed lungs, unlike terrestrial animals who have multi-lobed lungs. Hippos share the trait of one lobed lungs with their whale relatives.
- Hippos also have large voice boxes that are similar to whales. They are known to make clicking noises similar to some species of whales. In fact, most hippo communication takes place under water.
Well we bet you had no idea that hippos and whales shared some seriously neat traits! As if we need more reasons to love hippos!
Noddy bird not a Noodle bird
We are meeting our first animal here in Hawaii. We headed to the beach to meet this shore bird. Come join us on the sand!
Brown Noddy Fun Facts:
- These 18 inch birds are related to gulls and terns.
- They are the largest member of the noddies.
- They are carnivores. They nab fish from the ocean as they fly above it.
- Brown noddies nest together in large colonies.
- Males and females have a courtship ritual that includes bowing to each other and flying together.
- Both parents incubate the eggs and help raise the chicks.
- They are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN.
It was fun to watch these birds around the beach. We had never heard of the noddy bird, but it makes sense that they are related to seagulls!
Today we hoped on a boat to go whale watching. There are several species of whales that call these icy waters home- at least for part of the year. We found the big marine mammals we were looking for- YAY!
Southern Right Whale Fun Facts:
- These baleen whales can grow up to 59 ft and weigh up to 99 tons.
- There baleen plates grow out of the upper jaw and are over 9 feet long.
- They have white callusites on their heads and mouths. These are home to whale lice- which are related to shrimp.
- These whales never leave the Southern Hemisphere.
- They have large heads. The head makes up a 1/4 of their body length.
- Southern right whales are also most identical to their Northern right whale cousins.
- Southern right whales are more acrobatic. They are known to do “head stands” in the water and wave their flukes.
We had fun spotting the whales. They are often seen near boats and ships. Unfortunately that can lead to run ins, so it is important for boats to watch for them.
Halloween Week- Vampires
We are continuing the Halloween fun with some vampires of the ocean! That’s right- vampire squid!
Vampire Squid Fun Facts:
- Vampire squid are black to red color.
- They have skin that connects its eight arms.
- Each arm has spines on it.
- They eat marine animal debris that falls to the ocean floor.
- Adults have two small fins on their mantle (head).
- They are covered in light producing organs called photophores.
- They are unable to change their skin color and texture like other squid.
Vampire squid are so amazing and weird! They call the dark deep ocean their home and it sure is a weird place!
Back to Basics- Habitats 2
Yesterday we talked about land habitats, today we are covering water habitats. We are hitting up some of the basics, but there are more water habitats on the earth- understandable since 75% of the planet is covered in water.
Fresh water habitats are those without salt! Let’s talk about those:
Wetlands: an area where aquatic plants thrive. They can include marshes, bogs or swamps. Wetlands can be fresh water, salt water or brackish water (a mix of fresh and salt). They can have some dry seasons or stay wet all year round. Many animals call this their home including alligators, birds and mollusks.
Lakes/ponds: are usually closed bodies of water. They can be large or small. They can be natural or man made. They are mostly fresh water, with the exception of a few salt water lakes. Lakes are home to many different fish, some of whom only call one lake their home.
Rivers/streams: rivers and streams are fresh water habitats where the water continuously moves. The longest river in the world is the Amazon. Rivers and streams lead to the ocean. Animals that call rivers and streams home, must adapt to not going down stream. Some animals leave their ocean home to have offspring in the fresh water environment and some do the opposite- like salmon.
Brackish waters: where fresh water and salt water mix. You will find this habitat at the mouth of a river, estuaries and mangroves. Brackish mangroves are important habitats for many animals who have their offspring their in the roots of the trees. These nurseries keep little fish save from larger predators.
Deep oceans: deep oceans are dark places. The sunlight can not penetrate these depths. The animals that call this harsh environment home must adapt to living where there is no plant life. Such alien creatures as the frilled shark, the anglerfish and giant spider crabs call this home.
Open oceans: the open ocean is the area where sun penetrates the water. This massive habitat is the often called the marine desert. There are little nutrients here. Animals that call the open ocean their home must be fast and efficient swimmers, like mako sharks, tuna and dolphins.
Coral reefs: these amazing habitats are the most diverse in all of the oceans. Many animals call it home, including the coral that build the reef. Coral reefs are similar to the rainforest. Animals that call the reef home include, clownfish, anemones and sponges.
Intertidal zone: the intertidal zone is on the shore, in between the low tides and the high tides. We often think of places with tide pools when it comes to intertidal zones. The animals that live here, like muscles must be able to survive life outside of water. It is a harsh environment to call home.
These are just a few of the water habitats that are on our planet. The ocean especially has some harsh environments and yet life still exists. Sooooooo cool!
Back to Basics- Fish
Time to brush up on your fish knowledge with professor Sylvia the Seahorse!
Number of fish species- 24,000 and growing! Scientists discover new species all the time! We fish were the first vertebrate animals on the earth! We occupy the world’s oceans and fresh water bodies of water; including lakes, rivers and ponds.
- Fish have gills that we use to extract oxygen from water and expel carbon dioxide. They serve the same function as a mammal’s lungs.
- Fish have scales. Our scales are different, some are smooth and some are rough. Sharks’ scales are called dermal denticles. Some fish like hagfish have no scales.
- Fish have fins for swimming. Fins are shaped for the type of swimming a fish does- some are built for speed and some are small (like mine).
- We fish are vertebrates, we all have back bones.
- Most fish are exothermic, cold blooded.
Fish are classified in three groups; jawless fish (hagfish and lamprey- they also have no scales), cartilaginous (sharks and rays) and bony.
Some fish lay eggs, some incubate their eggs in a womb and some incubate their young in wombs similar to mammals.
We fish can detect chemicals and vibrations. We often have keen eyesight and a great sense of smell.
Fish do have ears! Not big goofy ones like some mammals, but internal ones.
We also have an extra “organ” to help us “hear” and detect vibrations. This is called the lateral-line. This line of cells runs the length of our bodies and helps us detect motion. Schooling fish who swim in synchronized groups use their lateral line to swim in these formations.
Sharks and rays have yet another “organ” that helps them detect electrical fields. It’s called the ampullae of Lorenzini, gel filled cells that help our cartilaginous cousins detect even the faintest of electrical fields. This is something no other animal can do!
We also have a swim bladder that keeps us buoyant in the water. Fresh water fish have a bigger swim bladder than salt water fish. Bony fish swim bladders are filled with a gas that is less dense than water. In cartilaginous fish, their swim bladder is a large oil rich liver that is less dense than water!
Catching Oysters with an Oystercatcher
It’s the last week of Camp E&E by the Sea! Can you believe it? This week we’re hanging by the beach to meet shore birds. First up is the American Oystercatcher! This neat bird is easy to spot with its bright orange beak. So let’s head out to spot some campers!
American Oystercatcher Fun Facts:
- These brightly colored birds call salt marshes and shores their home.
- They feed on shellfish, mussels, clams, oysters and sea stars.
- American oystercatchers tend to spend more time on the ground than flying.
- They often grab the shellfish inside the shell before it can close. They severe the muscle and swallow the meat whole.
- They nest in higher areas away from the high tide line.
We could sit on the beach and watch shore birds all day! These funny birds with their long legs are one of our favorites. What’s your favorite shorebird?