The winner of today’s photography challenge is the moray eel and the French grunts that were swimming past it when I took the picture.
So the grunts are native to the western Atlantic ocean, and are found in close proximity to coral reefs. They are nocturnal hunters of small crustaceans and mollusks. It probably seems odd to name a fish a grunt—but someone, somewhere listened to them—and I guess they grind their teeth together (I’m assuming after capturing some type of prey), and that is where their name came from, the grunting sounds of them grinding their teeth.
The moray eel is one of my favorites at the aquarium—there is something about them that I find fascinating. Part of it is their body structure—they’re fish—but they lack certain fins (pelvic and pectoral). Though with this one, you can’t see the dorsal fin on the back of its’ head. I also love how in reality—they aren’t yellow or green—they’re actually a drab brown in color. It’s because of the aquarium having a drab background color in the area, the tint of yellow in its body mucus, reflects back as yellow or green (as it is referred to as a green moray eel).
One thing I’d like to do is to visit other aquariums and see if I can spot moray eels within the different areas (since I know that the New England Aquarium has them within the larger central aquarium).
So hopefully I’m all caught up on the photography challenge after today and it will be back to a daily posting. Last night the internet was acting up and my Friday post didn’t save as a draft. So we’re trying it again this morning.
So yesterday’s winner of the photography challenge is one of the anaconda snakes that live at the New England Aquarium.
I would recommend that you go to their Facebook page or their main page to learn more about these cool snakes (beyond the little that I’m going to be sharing here). One of the females (and I’m not sure if it was this one or one of the other two)—actually birth to a couple of baby anacondas, even though there are no males in the holding.
So there are two main types of reproduction: sexual and asexual. Sexual reproduction, is reproduction with fertilization; whereas asexual reproduction is reproduction without fertilization. There are actually six to seven different types of asexual reproduction. Though when talking about more complex animals, if they asexually reproduce, it is usually through parthenogenesis.
Pathogenesis, is the process in which an unfertilized egg develops into an new individual. So, the female anaconda had several unfertilized eggs that developed into a couple of new little green anacondas.
According to the aquarium, the two young anacondas haven’t been put out in the display unit yet–it will interesting to see when they do, if one can capture pictures of them on the same day every year and see how they grow.
I find these snakes to be fascinating in terms of both their size and the fact that they thrive in water. While I’m not fond of snakes (living in the southern part of the US, there are quite a few that have nasty bites that can seriously hurt or kill a person), I do enjoy watching them from a distance—or when there is a solid piece of glass between us.
So today’s Fishy Friday photograph winner is the scorpionfish. This fish is found mainly in the Indian and South Pacific Oceans, where the waters are both temperate and there are abundant coral reefs.
When looking for them at the New England Aquarium–they’re in the armored and venomous tank along with some of the other deadly fish found in the seas.
They are ambush predators—meaning they wait for their prey to carelessly pass by, and then they strike. They’re also venomous, which means that they have very few predators themselves (though sharks, rays, and larger snappers are know to hunt scorpionfish).
They use their venom to stun their prey, before swallowing them whole. Their diet consists of small fish, crustaceans, and snails that they find within the coral reefs at night. They have a life span of about 15 years in the wild, and are solitary animals—they only congregate for mating.
The female may release ~15,000 eggs in the water for the males to fertilize, and fertilized eggs will then float to the surface. Within two days, baby scorpionfish hatch and remain near the surface until they grow enough to swim down to the reefs.
One main threat to the scorpionfish is loss of habitat (the coral reefs are dying off due to warming of the oceans).
So today’s post is a double fishy Friday and flashback Friday wrapped in one. It’s also a short post today as well.
So there are actually several moray eels at the New England Aquarium in addition to the green moray eel that you see in the main part of the central tank. I noticed this reddish one peaking out from the rock enclosure.
Then there was this one peaking out from the corner–it has the markings of a zebra.
Today’s Fishy Friday post winner is the French angelfish that was sitting on the artificial coral at the New England Aquarium. These are fish that live in the waters of the western Atlantic from Florida down through the Caribbean and south to Brazil.
They feed on a variety of different foods including sponges, algae, soft corals, and tunicates—to name a few food sources. It’s a good thing that the corals in the aquarium are man made. Younger French angelfish will also clean the parasites and loose scales of larger fishes—including some that would probably like to have them for lunch as well. When in the wild, French angelfish actually are spotted in pairs.
Once they pair, they will defend a feeding territory from other fishes, and they reproduce via broadcast spawning. This is where the female and male both release their eggs and sperm into the water column above the reef at the same time. Broadcast spawning helps increase the likelihood of fertilization of the eggs, and protection of the eggs from predators that would feast upon them. During a single spewing event, the female fish can release anywhere between 25,000 and 75,000 eggs. The eggs will hatch within fifteen to twenty hours after fertilization. The young will live among plankton until they are approximately 15mm in diameter, where they then will settle onto the coral reef.
I’m not sure if there was a second French angelfish in the exhibit or not–and if there was I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a male and a female. I’m happy to say though, that I’m slowly starting to identify the different fish that I took pictures of (at least of those that I have non-blurry pictures of). Next goal–another aquarium and more FishyFriday photos.
So today’s pictures all have a common theme: turtles!!! Today is World Turtle Day–a day to celebrate turtles and tortoises, and to maybe help keep them from tumbling over the edge into extinction.
So far this year, it has been a good year for seeing turtles up at Boomer Lake. I don’t think I really got any pictures of turtles last year on my early morning walks (which isn’t surprising since it was basically as the sun was coming up–they were still snoozing in the water or wherever they sleep).
Managed to get a picture of one swimming on Sunday as well. According to one person fishing, there is even a bigger one swimming around the lake. He claimed it should be about four times the size of this one.
I did see this box turtle last fall moving through the park. It had been the first time in quite a few years that I’d seen a box turtle in the area. They are one turtle that I do keep an eye out for in the mornings when I’m headed to catch the bus. I will usually try to help them across the busy road (in which ever direction they’re heading). Ten to fifteen years ago, they use to be extremely common in the neighborhood–not so much these days.
And of course, there is my favorite–the sea turtle. I’ve seen them in the wild (when I went to Hawaii), in aquariums (such as the New England Aquarium), and rehabilitation centers as well. These majestic sea creatures are some of the most vulnerable species currently–due to climate change, hunting, and the daily dangers of living in the oceans. All sea turtle species are listed at some level on the endangered species list.
I would love to be able to see a leatherback sea turtle in the wild. I would also like to make it to the Galapagos Islands and see the tortoises in their natural environment as well.
Turtles and tortoises all play an important role in their respected environments–environments that we should be protecting and not destroying. So when you’re out and about–slow down if you see wildlife crossing the road. If it’s possible (and safe to do so), stop and help the turtle(s) cross the road–just be careful if it’s a snapping turtle. The world is dark enough as it is–lets keep the light shining by helping to bring some species back from the brink of extinction.
Well today’s post is actually going to be several posts
combined into one to play catch-up on the photography challenge. Since the
weather has been rainy, cloudy, and then slightly sunny—our internet/wifi has
been the same—down, down, up, down, down, oh you can have access for about three
minutes and then down again over the past few days.
This unfortunately is why I didn’t get pictures posted after Tuesday (yes, I could have tried to find the time at work to post—but I didn’t feel comfortable doing that) night. Therefore today’s post is going to be a mix of different things. So let’s get started on the photography challenge catch-up.
The winner for day 80 (Wednesday) is the hummingbird at the back feeder. We usually try to get our hummingbird feeder out in mid-April to feed the hummingbirds as they migrate through—though the ruby-throated hummingbird does summer in Oklahoma. It looks like either it’s a female ruby-throated hummingbird at the feeder, or a young male that hasn’t molted into the bright red throat.
What are some cool facts about the ruby-throated
This is basically the only hummingbird that is seen in the
eastern United States; as it is the only breeding hummingbird east of the Great
It can beat its wings approximately 53 times a second (that
means its beating its wings almost 3200 times a minute).
Due to having extremely short legs, it shuffles along its
perch (it doesn’t walk or hop). But it can still scratch its head & neck if
It belongs to the order Apodiformes (along with swifts), and
the name means “without feet”—mainly because in flight it doesn’t look to have
While they mainly feed at flowers (or feeders that have
sugar water), they will occasionally eat small insects as well.
Depending on the number of broods, the female may start
building a new nest while still feeding the nestlings in the first nest (as the
nest will stretch as the young grow).
They can migrate a long distance (for example from Canada
down to Costa Rica), and often fly over the Gulf of Mexico during migration
As much as I’d love to get a picture of one trying to shuffle along a branch–they usually perch extremely high (sometimes I can get a picture of it sitting on the power lines), but I doubt I’d be able to catch it close to its nest where it’d most likely be shuffling along a branch.
The winners for day 81 (Thursday) are the squirrels hanging from the birdfeeders in the backyard.
So we had to buy a new birdfeeder after the squirrels had
chewed a hole in the lid of the one I’d bought a few years earlier from the
national wildlife foundation. This is a birdfeeder we have hanging in front of
the window in the living room, where the cats can lay on the back of the
loveseat and watch the birds, and anyone sitting in the recliner across the
room can also watch the birds.
Since we live next to a small creek, and not that far from
some wooded areas, we have quite a few squirrels in the neighborhood. These
little critters also like to help themselves to the birdseed and bird suets in
the backyard, so we try to get the birdfeeders that claim to be “squirrel
Well as you can tell from the picture—the squirrels have
figured out how to get around the “squirrel proof” byline and get to the
birdseed. This particular feeder is suppose to be weight sensitive—to where if
something heavy is on it, the bars slide down and the animal can’t get to the
A young raccoon had broken the lid earlier this spring—I’d
found the feeder on the ground and the lid pulled off, and since then the
squirrels have figured out that if they “hug” the feeder they can distribute
their weight and still get to the bird seed.
So yesterday would have been day 82 of the photography challenge. This is the day that I usually try to also share some of the fish pictures I’ve taken over the years–making it a FishyFriday post as well. So in addition to that–it’s also a FlashbackFriday post to one of my trips to the New England Aquarium.
I’ve realized that one thing I should start doing when I go
to aquariums/zoos/museums and am taking pictures—I should also try to get
pictures of the plaques that state what animals are in the exhibit (or time
period if I’m in a museum). It is quite
difficult to google “black and white stripped fish new England aquarium” and
actually get a good hit on what that particular fish actually is.
Thankfully, I have managed to identify all three of the fish
(though it took quite a bit of time to be able to do so).
The yellow-striped fish is actually a French grunt fish (Haemulon flavolineatum). This fish
species is actually native to western Atlantic ocean and can be found basically
from South Carolina down into the Gulf of Mexico & Caribbean and then
downwards towards northern coast of Brazil.
They feed primarily on small crustaceans and mollusks that
they hunt for during the night. They stay in close proximity to coral reefs
(probably to be able to dart to safety to escape predators) while hunting.
Their name comes from the noise they make when they grind their teeth together.
The second fish is the balloonfish. This fish is also known
as the pufferfish, blowfish, and bubblefish (just to name a few of the other
The habitat of the balloonfish, are the warm shallow coastal
waters; more specifically coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds.
They stay hidden for the most part during the day—though I’m sure they’ve given
plenty of scuba divers and snorkelers a shock if they’re accidentally awoken in
They are nocturnal feeders, going after clams, snails,
hermit crabs, sea urchins, and other mollusks that dwell on the sea floor.
If something comes upon them (and they think they could be
eaten), balloonfish will puff up to almost three times their normal size; this
puffing also allows for special scales to stick out, and they then look like a
spiked football, which most predators will then leave alone. The bubblefish
will then float away, and may wait awhile before releasing the air (or water)
to shrink back down to its normal size.
The final fish is the honeycomb cowfish. This fish gets its
name from the hexagonal scales that cover most of its body. This is one of the ways that the fish is able
to blend in with the coral reefs it calls home, though they are also found in
seagrass beds as well.
This fish is found in the western Atlantic (east coast of
the United States), the Caribbean, and then down towards Brazil. While it isn’t
found in the Gulf of Mexico, it can be found around Florida (mainly on the
Atlantic side and the Keys).
They feed on shrimp, algae, and sponges during the day. Another way that they protect themselves from
predators (aside from the hexagonal scale like armor) is the ability to change their
color to blend in with their surrounds as well. Once they sense a threat—they can
change their colors, and then remain stationary for quite some time.
Now we’re finally up to today’s photography challenge winner, and it’s one of the hundred or so I took last year on our small vacation down to New Mexico. One of the places that we went to was Carlsbad Cavern National Park.
. While we only spent a short time in the caves, I managed
to get over a hundred pictures of the caves. Because no matter which way you
turned, there was a new angle to take a picture, different lighting, and so
This is one of my favorite pictures of the caves, showing
the “draperies” of the caves. As one of the signs stated: “Draperies form where
water containing dissolved limestone runs down the ceiling leaving traces of
calcite. Over hundreds of years, calcite crystals accumulate. When water stops
flowing, draperies stop growing.”
The proper name for the draperies is actually “speleothems”. Since we only spent time in a small part of the national park (the main caves and then a small drive through one of the canyons), I’d like to go back at some point—but maybe actually signup for a tour of the inner caves—which is basically a five hour round trip in and out (which is one of the reasons why I didn’t do it last time). I know that I need to be in a little bit better physical (and possibly even mental) state than what I currently am in.
So I’ve managed to catch up on the photography challenge, and hopefully the wifi connection will behave and I won’t have to many other multiple post days. Though while in a slight enforced ban on electronics–I was able to get some other things done (there will be several posts coming over the next few weeks on this)–so that was one small bright spot. Until the next picture–remember to try to find the beauty in the everyday.
Yesterday marks world Penguin Day. It’s a day to celebrate some of the unique members of the avian world. These birds are all found in the southern hemisphere–from temperate, warm waters down to the icy cold waters of the Antarctic.
If you are unable to see these majestic birds in their natural habitats (and I realize that is one thing I would love to be able to do–is see a penguin in the wild), the next best place is either a zoo or an aquarium.
The New England Aquarium actually has three species of penguins living there: the rockhopper, the little blue, and the African penguin.
The rockhopper penguin is one of the smaller species of penguin. They are found in the southern hemisphere, with one subspecies (the northern rockhopper) living in the cool temperate climates on islands in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The other two subspecies are found in the more southern oceans around Argentina, Chile, and New Zealand.
Their diet consists of krill, shrimp, crabs, lobsters, crayfish, squid, and fish; though they eat mostly krill and crustaceans more than fish and squid.
Their predators are all at sea (for adults) and consist of seals (leopard & fur), killer whales, and blue sharks. The eggs and young are eaten by numerous different bird species including different gulls and giant petrels (to name a few).
Both males and females look similar, so one actually has to do a DNA test to determine the gender of the penguin in captivity. Their key characteristics that differentiate them from other penguins include their red eyes, orange been, pink webbed feet, and the yellow spiky feathers on their heads. Another distinguishing characteristics is that they don’t slide on their bellies (since their habitat is rocky areas—it makes sense not to to slide downhill on their stomach), they hop from one place to another—hence the name rockhopper penguin.
The little blue penguin is the smallest species of penguin—it only gets to be about a foot tall. It lives on the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand.
Their diet consists of fish, squids, and crustaceans—such as arrow squids, anchovy, and red cod. The female little blue matures at about two years of age, while the male matures at about three years of age. Their nests are close to the ocean, both parents share the duties of egg incubation and rearing the chicks (which usually fledge within seven to eight weeks after hatching).
The New England Aquarium, is the only aquarium outside of Australia and New Zealand that houses a colony of little blue penguins.
The other names for the African penguin include: the jackass penguin and the black-footed penguin. This penguin is confined to the south-western African waters, and is listed as endangered.
Since the penguin is listed as endangered—numerous breeding populations are kept at different zoos and aquariums worldwide. One reason for their numbers decline is the harsh environment in which they breed—if the birds get overheated while sitting on the eggs—they will abandon the nest and eggs won’t survive. The young face threats of predators and the heat of the sun.
Their diet is similar to other penguins and includes squid and other small crustaceans. These penguins breed in colonies, and the pairs will return to the same site each year.
Watching the penguins at the aquarium is always something I enjoy doing–mainly because you never know what they’re going to be doing. They might sit around, they may go for a swim, or wander around. They’ve always been a favorite bird of mine, and I’d love to either see the other species in the wild or at other zoos and aquariums around the country or the world.
Today’s #fishyfriday post is the lionfish, brought to you by
one of my many visits to the New England Aquarium.
Lionfish are native fish to the Indo-Pacific oceans, but are
now an invasive marine species along parts of the US coast—specifically along
the southeast coast, the Gulf of Mexico and then down to the Caribbean. It’s
speculated that humans no longer wanting their lionfish in their saltwater
aquariums dumped them into the closest saltwater they could find. Since there
are no native of the lionfish found in the Atlantic and Gulf waters, they have
managed to establish themselves.
Marine scientists are studying the lionfish in the Atlantic
and Gulf areas to help determine the exact impact they will have on the native
plants and animals, since it is almost impossible to get rid of introduced
marine species after a prolong period of time (i.e. after they manage to
What are some other interesting facts about the lionfish?
They have a large appetite, where their stomachs can expand
to up to 30x their normal size after eating.
They reproduce year round—meaning a mature female could
release approximately 2 million eggs a year.
They have spines that once they puncture someone (or
something) with them, the pressure of the puncture allows for toxin to be
released from the venom gland on along their backbone.
If one removes the spines of the lionfish—they are then safe
to consume (as they are venomous and not poisonous).
There is no anti-toxin for a lionfish sting—you would need
to remove the spine & soak the wound in hot water (~114F), and the pain
hopefully will go away within a few days.
Research has been done to show that the toxin of the lionfish seems to target nerve cells that relay pain signals. The scientists now want to look at the toxin at a molecular level so they can determine how the native predators of lionfish are able to eat them and not suffer any side effects, in addition to trying to figure out an antidote for the toxin.
One thing I do know–I’m also going to pay more attention to the signs about what fish are in what exhibit–I have a lot of cool pictures, but I have no idea what species of fish they are–but I’m going to work on identifying them. Will have to see what I manage for next week’s edition of Fishy Friday.
Yesterday was Zoo Lover Day—and I wish I could have spent the day at a zoo watching the animals instead of being inside working. But alas, that didn’t happen this year (maybe next year). I’ve realized that I’ve only been to probably five zoos over the years since I was a kid. I’ve been to a couple of these zoos yearly growing up, as they were part of our vacation—but since then I’ve only been to one new zoo. Which is why I have on my 101-goal list—visit at least one new zoo and aquarium at some point over the next 1001 days.
What are a few zoo facts?
Zoos have been around since the 1700s. With the Vienna zoo
being the oldest existing zoo—it’s been open since 1765. The first public zoo
in the US was opened in 1874—Central Park Zoo.
There are 350 zoos in the US alone.
~175 million people visit a zoo each year.
3.2 million people visit the San Diego Zoo each year & over 9.8 million
people visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom each year.
Out of the 350 zoos in the United States, I’ve been to the following zoos: Oklahoma City Zoo, Tulsa Zoo, Como Park Zoo (in St Paul MN), Henry Vilas Zoo (Madison WI), and the Franklin Park Zoo (Boston MA). All pictures that are in the post today came from my one trip to the Franklin Park Zoo when I was living in Boston quite a few years ago.
I would love to again see one in the wild—but going through the forests of the Andes to try to find an elusive scavenger that is endangered—I’ll just have to be happy trying to get a good picture of it in zoos. Though it might be a bonus if I ever do make it to South America and travel through the rainforests.
I would love to see one in the wild—but I don’t think that I’d be traveling in the western part of Australia (unless I did some type of group tour). While Australia is on my list of places I want to visit–I’m currently planning on staying on the more populated side of the island.
While I would love to see most of the animals in their natural habitat (at a very safe distance mind you), I understand that they’re in zoos due to human behavior. We (humans) have yet to figure out how to live in harmony with the rest of the planet; we take and destroy without thinking of the long term consequences of our actions. Most of these animals now have to be in zoos to survive, if not they would be extinct due again to human nature.
One goal/bucket list item may be to see how many other zoos in the US I can visit over the years–I’ve been to five, and that means that there are at least 345 more zoos that I should try to visit.