Seahorse

Is it a plane? A dragon? No, it is a seahorse!

  • A seahorse is a fish that is found in tropical or temperate water bodies of shallow depth, sheltered by coral reefs, mangroves or seagrass, and they can change their colour to blend into their environment and can be seen in a wide range of colours like green, red, black, white and orange.
  • Seahorses are more than 40 species that have the scientific name ‘Hippocampus’, that means ‘horse sea monster’ in Ancient Greek, and they belong to the Syngnathidae family, the family of fish with fused jaws.
  • A seahorse can range from 1.5 to 35.5 centimetres (0.6 to 14 inches) in height depending on the species and has a tail that it uses to grab onto sea grass and coral to hold itself still.
  • Seahorses are one of the two fish that swims vertically, swimming slowly by flapping its dorsal fin, with the slowest, the dwarf seahorse – Hippocampus zosterae, moving at 152 centimetres per hour (5 feet per hour) which is known as the slowest fish.
  • Seahorses have plates of bone that have a ring structure, an identifying and unique coronet (crown like structure) on their head, and have eyes that move freely of one another.

Seahorse, Colorado, America, United States, Yellow, Swimming, Denver Aquarium, Ten Random Facts, Fish, National Geograph

Seahorse
Image courtesy of National Geographic
  • After mating, seahorse males look after the up to 1500 eggs (or more) in its pouch, that hatch after around 9 to 45 days into tiny seahorses.
  • The amount of baby seahorses expelled from the male pouch ranges from 5 to 2500 depending on the species, with only 0.5% on average ever surviving.
  • Seahorses have no stomach or teeth and have a diet of little crustaceans and plankton that are sucked up with the fish’s generally long snout, and they need to eat lots due to a quick digestion process, making a clicking noise every time they eat.
  • Seahorses are sometimes kept as pets in aquariums, but can easily die if not cared for properly, and are often hunted by humans for souvenirs and food, and numerous quantities are sold and used for traditional Asian medicine.
  • Seahorses have predators of crabs, tuna and rays, and can be killed by pollution, hunting or exhaustion, particularly in storms where they can be tossed around.
Bibliography:
Seahorse, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seahorse
Sydenham S & Thomas R, Seahorse, 2008, Kidcyber, http://www.kidcyber.com.au/topics/seahorse.htm

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Parrotfish

Parrotfish do not fly!

  • Parrotfish are mainly found in reefs or coastal areas and include 90 species of fish, that are native to the tropics and sub tropics of the seas around the globe.
  • Parrotfish were previously from the family Scaridae, however, they have been reclassified and now belong to the family Labridae , which is the family of wrasses, and are now known as the sub-family Scarinae.
  • ‘Parrotfish’ are named as such, due to the beak-like mouth the fish have, and are used to chomp on hard objects, especially coral from which they extract algae.
  • Parrotfish can grow to be 30 to 130 centimetres (one to four feet) in length, and have a lifespan of  up to seven years.
  • Usually at night, some parrotfish species encase themselves in a mucus covering, which protects the fish from predators, probably by blocking its odour and acting as an alarm.

Parrotfish, Blue, One, Single, Swim, Sea, Egypt, Fish, Reef, Ten Random Facts, Flickr

Parrotfish
Image courtesy of Rob/Flickr
  • Parrotfish diets consist mainly of vegetational matter, usually algae growing on coral, although sometimes other marine animals are eaten.
  • Parrotfish produce up to 90 kilograms (198 pounds) of sand a year, from ground, indigestible coral that exits the fish as sand.
  • It is common for female parrotfish to change gender and become males during their life, and females can lay 100s of floating eggs at a time, that deposit on coral.
  • Parrotfish change colours while growing, often starting dull and becoming bright and colourful, sometimes imitating other fish.
  • The meat of parrotfish is considered a luxury in some countries, and in a few historical cases, it was served only to the king.
Bibliography:
Parrot Fish, 2013, National Geographic, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/fish/parrot-fish/
Parrotfish, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parrotfish

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Pufferfish

This pufferfish will pop like crazy.

  • ‘Pufferfish’ are also known as ‘puffers’, ‘blowfish’, ‘toadfish’, ‘bubblefish’, ‘balloonfish’, ‘swellfish’, ‘sea squabs’, and ‘globefish’.
  • ‘Pufferfish’ is the common name of the fish that belong to the ‘Tetraodontidae’ family, and are part of the Tetraodontiformes order, which contains fish that are ray-finned.
  • Pufferfish include 19 genera, covering 120 different species, that are mainly found in the tropical oceans, and depending on the species, sometimes in fresh water rivers.
  • Pufferfish expand their stomachs when chased or provoked by inhaling water and air, making them much larger than their normal size.
  • Pufferfish are generally extremely poisonous, often described as the second most poisonous vertebrate, with the deadliest parts being the organs and sometimes skin, which contain the poison tetrodotoxin.

Pufferfish, blowfish, spine, small, deflated, Ten Random Facts, Philippines, Batangas, National Geographic

Pufferfish Image courtesy of National Geographic
  • Depending on the species and environment, pufferfish can change their coloured appearance, and most are normally a dull colour.
  • One of the main systems of defence of a pufferfish is it’s rudder like tail and ability to move at quick bursts, even though they generally swim very slowly.
  • Although pufferfish are usually highly toxic, Japanese, Chinese and Korean chefs make carefully prepared special dishes using the meat that is considered a delicacy, however a single mistake in processing can cause fatal poisoning in a consumer.
  • Pufferfish species vary in colour, can be as small as 2.5 cm (1 inch) or can grow up to one metre (three feet) in length, and may have spines or spikes that can be poisonous and not visible unless threatened.
  • Pufferfish are carnivores and mainly consume water creatures, algae, and sometimes shellfish, that they use their tough teeth to crush.
Bibliography: Pufferfish, 2013, National Geographic, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/pufferfish/
Tetraodontidae, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetraodontidae

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Clownfish

The clownfish certainly don’t clown around!

  • Clownfish are fish from the family Pomacentridae, which is also includes the family of damselfish and the scientific name for the fish is ‘Amphiprion’.
  • There are over 25 species of clownfish, that vary in colour and often have stripes and blotches that are yellow, orange, white, red and/or black in colour.
  • Clownfish grow to 10 to 18 centimetres (3.9 to 7.1 inches) in length and can be found in shallow waters and reefs.
  • It is suggested that clownfish are called so because of their bright and patchy or stripey colouring, while others say that the name is derived from its interesting swimming style, where it has a bobbing motion rather than a smooth motion.
  • Clownfish are native to the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and parts of the Pacific Ocean and are not found in the Mediterranean, Caribbean or the Atlantic Ocean.

Clownfish, Anemonefish, Anemone Orange, White, Black, Colour, Malaysia, two, Ten Random Facts, Coral Reef Alliance

Clownfish
Image courtesy of Steve Turek/Coral Reef Alliance
  • Clownfish live among anemone in a small group, eating zooplankton and other scraps trapped by the stinging creature, and the fish defend their anemone host if it is intruded.
  • Clownfish have a mucus coating that protects the fish from an anemone’s sting.
  • Anemones protect the clownfish, also known as ‘anemonefish’, and provide food and shelter, while the fish cleans the anemone and helps the marine creature  to grow.
  • Clownfish live for 6 to 10 years in the wild and lay 100 to 1000 eggs at one time, which hatch into males after 6 to 10 days.
  • Clownfish are always born males and the strongest male will take an irreversible change into a female, which happens when the female of the school dies.
Bibliography:
Anemonefish, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphiprioninae
Clown Anemonefish, 2013, National Geographic, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/clown-anemonefish/

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Stingray

Lightning fast reflex stingrays.

  • Stingrays are from the family Myliobatiformes, which is the family of fish, known as rays with a cartilage structure, and stingrays have no bones but instead have cartilage and are related to sharks.
  • There are more than 60 species of stingray, and they are typically found in warm, coastal waters throughout the world, although they can be seen in some other areas.
  • Stingrays can feel the electrical currents a fish produces when it swims, using its electroreceptors and its sense of smell to catch prey.
  • Stingrays can camouflage themselves by laying their flat body, coloured similar to the seabed, in the sand and partially burying themselves.
  • Stingrays often feed at high tide in reefs with their cousins the sharks, and once they have found their food, they crush their prey of clams, mussels, crabs and shrimps with their super strong teeth.

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Stingray
Image courtesy of National Geographic
  • Stingrays typically have a litter of between 2 and 13 babies per year that are born as mini versions of an adult.
  • Stingrays do not normally attack people unless aggravated by being stepped on or are feeling threatened, although many people are afraid and suspicious of them, particularly since a stingray killed the legendary wildlife protector, Steve Irwin in 2006.
  • Stingrays usually have a barbed stinger, that sometimes contains venom, and if stung, it is not normally fatal unless stung near vital organs, but it can be extremely painful and may cause swelling and muscle cramps.
  • Stingrays are commonly eaten in Malaysia and Singapore served with a sambal sauce, and they have wing like fins that are served as a delicacy in some countries.
  • A stingray swims through the sea by moving side to side or flapping its fins up and down to glide, and they can weigh up to 358 kg (789 pounds) and grow up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) in length although some species grow up to twice that in length.

 

Bibliography:
Hughes C, Stingrays, 2013, National Geographic Kids, <http://kids.nationalgeographic.com.au/kids/animals/creaturefeature/stingray/>
Stingray, 2013, National Geographic, <http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/fish/stingray/>
Stingray, 2013, Wikipedia, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stingray>

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Hammerhead Shark

Wonderful wildlife, wonderful facts. Strange wildlife, strange facts. Wonderful and strange wildlife? Wonderful and strange facts.

  • There are nine species of hammerhead sharks.
  • Most hammerheads live in warm temperature and tropical seas.
  • Hammerheads normally live in small schools together where there are more females than males.
  • Female hammerheads fight with other females to be in the centre, so they are noticeable to the males.
  • By dusk, the hammerheads leave the school to find a place to eat and by dawn, the hammerheads regroup into schools again, at the same spot they left.

Hammerhead shark Silloutte, Fish, Ocean, Sea, Ten Random Facts, Free Stock Photos

Hammerhead Shark 
Image courtesy of Free Stock Photos
  • Stingrays are the hammerhead’s favourite food.
  • The smallest hammerhead alive is the Bonnethead, which grows to 1.5 meters (5 feet) long, and the largest hammerhead, the Great Hammerhead, grows to 6 meters (19.5 feet) long.
  • The hammer shaped head of the hammerhead helps the shark to swim faster.
  • A hammerhead swings it’s head side to side to see it’s surroundings.
  • The hammerhead’s head has many ampullae of Lorenzini which can sense small electric currents produced by their prey.
Bibliography:
Macquitty, M 2004, Shark, Dorling Kindersley, United States

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