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.
Today’s Fishy Friday photo is brought to you by the bonnet-head shark, which is the smallest member of the hammerhead genus. At first I thought I was just seeing a young hammerhead shark, but then realized (after looking at different information plaques) that it was actually a smaller member of the hammerhead family.
The bonnet-head shark is native to the waters off the coasts of North America, and can be found as far south as Ecuador.
What are some cool
facts about sharks in general?
They are fish that are
characterized by having a cartilaginous skeleton, five to seven gill slits on
the side of their heads, and their pectoral fins aren’t fused to their heads.
They can see colors and
have very good night vision.
Sharks have been around
at least 455 million years.
The two largest fish
belong to the shark family: whale sharks (can weigh up to 40 tons) and basking
sharks (can grow 32 feet & weigh over 5 tons).
Some interesting facts
about the bonnet-head shark:
This is the only shark
species known to be omnivorous (they eat sea grass along with crustaceans).
If they quit swimming
they’d sink to ocean floor.
The females can reproduce
via asexual reproduction (parthenogenesis).
Usually the female
gives birth to eight to twelve baby sharks. The survival rate of the young
depends on their size and what predators are in the area.
They forage during the
night, and during the day they’re swimming in the deeper waters.
They’re usually in
small groups; though they can get together into larger groups ranging from a
few hundred to a few thousand.
They’re not aggressive towards humans (mainly due to their small size and shy nature).
Now I need to go back through some older pictures to see if I’ve managed to get pictures of any other sharks that were also in the tank (and within other exhibits). Another goal is to go to other aquariums and see what sharks they are housing. I’d love to be able to see a whale shark in the wild.
Well this is probably going to be a shortish post mainly because while I have more photos of fish from the New England Aquarium that I will be sharing–the identification of the fish is taking quite a while (it’s hard when you type in a color and hope to see your fish within the first twenty or thirty photos).
Anyway today’s photo winner(s) are the garden eels.
Garden eels are members of the subfamily Heterocongrinae within the conger eel family Congridae. These eels are found in the warmer oceans (mostly in the Indo-Pacific area, but also in the Caribbean & eastern Pacific).
They are small eels that live burrowed in on the sea floor. Since they live in groups, when they all poke their heads out—they look like plants in a garden—hence the common name: Garden eels. Their coloring varies between species, and the average length is about two feet (twenty four inches). There are also about thirty five different species in two different genera.
Unfortunately it is difficult to tell from the picture what color the garden eels were—but I’m pretty sure that they are the yellow garden eel (Heteroconger luteolus). But when they’re all out and bobbing at the same time—they do look like a garden of eels.
One goal is going to try to figure out what the different fish are in most of the photographs. This is for several reasons: 1–so that I can share them as more than just a pretty picture of a fish, and 2–so that I can also learn something new and share that as well.
So going with the theme #fishyfriday for today’s photos. Instead of doing the fall back pictures of the algae eaters, I decided to share some of the pictures that I’ve taken at the New England Aquarium. This is one of my favorite places to visit in Boston—no matter how many times you visit—it always seems like there is something new to see. You can spot a different fish, or the octopus or anaconda might actually be moving around.
So today’s cast for #fishyfriday include:
The moray eel, which was emerging from it’s hiding spot when I walked past one of the windows of the large center tank. These eels can be found in all tropical and subtropical seas, living among the coral reefs and hiding in nooks and crannies. While they look threatening by continuously opening and closing their mouths—they are actually just moving water through their gills (aka they’re just breathing).
If they feel threatened they can bite, so if you are out scuba diving and see one—don’t try to get close for a selfie.
Some other cool facts about moray eels:
They have transparent ribbon-like larvae. They have a set of jaws located in their throats that thrusts forward to pull prey back into their esophaguses (so I wonder if all the weird aliens have been based off someone watching a moray eel eat?) They have symbiotic relationships, where cleaner shrimp will clean parasites off of them. There are about 200 species world wide. They only appear to be blue or green because of the toxic mucus that they secrete to help navigate through the crevices of the coral reefs.
The second picture is of a ray swimming among the different fish. Now I’m not sure exactly what species of ray this is—but I just love how they seem to “fly” through the water.
So rays are actually the largest group of cartilaginous fish, with over 600 different species found within 26 different families. Their gills are actually located under their pectoral fins that are fused to their heads. These beautiful creatures live for the most part close to the sea floor, usually within the warmer waters of the tropical and subtropical oceans and seas (though there a handful of species that can live in cooler waters). They diet is as varied as their locations—plankton to snails and clams to the occasional other fish.
The final picture is of a weedy (or common) sea dragon.
The weedy sea dragon is a relative of the seahorse. These fish have a reddish color, with small leaf-like appendages (hence the names weedy and leafy sea dragons). The leaf-like appendages provide camouflage as they’re swimming through the seaweed.
Other facts about the weedy sea dragon:
It is found solely in the waters off of Australia—specifically around New South Wales, Western Australia, and Tasmania.
Like the seahorse—the male cares for the developing young. He carries the eggs until they hatch (~1 month), and the young are independent at birth. It takes a little over 2 years before sea dragons reach sexual maturity.
Mating in captivity is rare—though there are several aquariums around the world that have been able to successful bred the weedy sea dragon.
There are several threats to the weedy sea dragon (though it’s listed as least concern on the endangered species list):
Habitat loss and degradation and pollution are the biggest threats to the sea dragons. They live in seagrass beds, and don’t “migrate” far from what they’re use to, and therefore if seagrass beds start to decline, so will their populations.
References: Copying & pasting the links below with take you to webpages outside of my blog. I do not endorse any of them—they’re just various pages that I found information on the fish that I decided to share pictures of. By acknowledging their pages—I’m acknowledging that there is still things for me to learn about the creatures that inhabit the oceans.
So one of the 30 day challenges that I think were in both of the books that I read last month was a photography challenge. Though I’m going to try to take it out to a full year (if not longer). One of the big tips from one of them, was to have taken more than one picture per day–just in case you come across a day that you either run out of time, or can’t find the inspiration for a photo.
So now I am trying to find inspiration for several photographs a day–this will probably work best on the weekends when it warms up and I’m doing my morning walks & outside more than what I am during the winter months.
So today’s photograph is of two of the fish in our large aquarium–the shubunkin and one of the algae eaters (I think it’s Cletus as it looks a little small to be Jaws). That is the only way that I can tell the two algae eaters apart (well also when I feed them–Cletus heads into it’s log to munch on the algae pellet), is their size. Jaws is just a little bit longer than Cletus. I think the fifty-five gallon aquarium is just the right size for two good size algae eaters and one decent size shubunkin.
One of the things that I will be investing in when I move is going to be an aquarium so that the cat can have her fish tv again–the algae eater in the smaller aquarium doesn’t swim around as much as these guys.