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).
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 Fishy Friday post is going to be a short one. Mainly because I’m not one hundred percent certain on the type of fish that I saw in the lake on Sunday.
While I was on my walk Sunday, I go a certain way to see if I can spot any of the turtles sunbathing in the little cove next to the parking lot. In order to see them, you have to peek through the tall grass that is growing along the edge of the lake.
There is one little area that people have cleared, to where someone can stand and cast a fishing line out into the lake to fish. When I was standing there I looked down, and I saw probably about two dozen little fish swimming around. I’m calling the minnows, though they could be the young of some other fish in the lake.
It isn’t that often I see the little fish swimming around the lake–mainly because this is a muddy lake, and there are also numerous water snakes living in the lake (and I don’t want to cross the path of them–I don’t mind seeing them from a distance).
So it will be interesting to see how often I will be seeing small fish swimming in this area, or if they will move on and maybe I’ll start seeing some tadpoles swimming around soon.
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.
Today’s photograph is
also another flashback Friday photo for my trip to Hawaii. One of the things I
tried to do on my trip was sit near the water in areas where I could observe
fish and other aquatic life. I then tried to zoom in with my camera to get pictures
(this was all before I got a digital camera that I could then actually put in
the water). So some of the photos came out nice and crisp, and other (like this
one) had more of abstract look to them.
I thought that the fish
in the photo is the Moorish idol (Zanclus cornutus)—or a member of the
butterfly fishes that also closely resembles it—hard to totally tell from the
picture. Anyway—the Moorish idol is a fish that has a wide distribution through
the tropical and subtropical waters, especially around reefs and lagoons. But
know I think that it is the black and white butterflyfish; these fish are also
found throughout the tropical and subtropical waters around reefs.
The diet of the
butterfly fish varies depending on the species—some eat coral polyps and sea
anemones, while others are more omnivorous (which makes them easier to care for
in salt water aquariums).
The way the fish mature is unique as
well—butterfly fish release their eggs, which float on the currents with
plankton until hatching. Then as they mature, the young go through a stage
where they are covered in large, bony plates that are shed when they mature.
The Moorish idol is a very difficult fish to try to keep in captivity—mainly due to its diet (it feasts on sponges, coral polyps, tunicates, and various other invertebrates) and the fact that they require very large tanks as well. So that is why butterflyfishes (especially the black and white) are sometimes called the Moorish idol replacements.
I would like to go back to Hawaii and try my hand again at getting pictures of various fish under water, now that I do have a camera that I can stick underwater (at least a few feet).
So today’s FishyFriday post is the “unicorn fish” and also a Flashback Friday post to my one trip to Hawaii (namely the big island).
It has been almost ten
years since I went to Hawaii (I went in December 2009 to celebrate having
passed my dissertation proposal exam—which meant I was basically one
presentation/paper away from getting my PhD). I managed to pack quite a bit of
sightseeing of the large island in during that time—especially seeing the
Volcano National Park twice.
I spent quite a bit of
time walking in Hilo, and one of the stops was the Mokupapapa Discovery Center,
which focuses on the native coral reefs and fish around Hawaii. Within the
Discovery Center is a 3,500-gallon saltwater aquarium with numerous different
One of those fish is
the “unicorn fish”. There are twenty species, and they are found in the
Indo-Pacific region of the oceans. They get their name from the long spike that
is protruding from the forehead.
These fish are herbivores feeding on algae (though they can also be opportunistic feeders and eat other small invertebrates that they come across as well), and travel in groups (called schools).
One of the things I would like to do is get back to Hawaii for another visit. There are other areas of the Big Island I would like to see, and I would to see how Mother Nature changed the landscape of the Volcano National Park as well.
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.