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 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.
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.