Tag: newenglandaquarium

Photography Challenge Day 152 (a day late): Flash Back Friday edition

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.

Green Anaconda at the New England Aquarium

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.

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Photography Challenge Day 117: Fishy Friday Edition

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.

Scorpionfish at the New England Aquarium

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).

Reference: https://oceana.org/marine-life/ocean-fishes/scorpionfish

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Photography Challenge Day 110: Fishy Friday Flashback (say that three times fast).

So today’s post is a double fishy Friday and flashback Friday wrapped in one. It’s also a short post today as well.

One of the other moray eels at the aquarium

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.

Moray eel that looks almost like a zebra.

Then there was this one peaking out from the corner–it has the markings of a zebra.

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Photography Challenge Day 96: Fishy Friday Edition. The French angelfish from the New England 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.

French angelfish at the New England Aquarium

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.

References:
https://oceana.org/marine-life/ocean-fishes/french-angelfish
https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-fish/species-profiles/pomacanthus-paru/

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Photography Challenge Day 95: Celebration of World Turtle Day

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.

Red-eared sliders sunning themselves at Boomer Lake

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).

Red-eared slider swimming in Boomer Lake

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.

Large box turtle moving through the park

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.

Sea Turtle at the New England Aquarium

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.

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Playing catch-up on the photography challenge. Days 80 to 83.

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.

Ruby-throated hummingbird has made an appearance in the backyard.

What are some cool facts about the ruby-throated hummingbird?

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 Plains.

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 needed.

It’s either a female or a very young male–I don’t see the red throat.

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 feet.

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 (either way).

It seems to be thirsty today.

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.

References:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ruby-throated_Hummingbird/overview

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/ruby-throated-hummingbird

The winners for day 81 (Thursday) are the squirrels hanging from the birdfeeders in the backyard.

Someone doesn’t want to hunt for seeds…

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 proof”.

They’re doing an upside down “hug” to stay on the feeder.

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 bird seed.

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).

A French grunt swimming in the large ocean tank at the New England Aquarium

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.

References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haemulon_flavolineatum; https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-fish/species-profiles/haemulon-flavolineatum/

A fish that is known by many names: pufferfish, balloonfish, and blowfish

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 names).

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 their hidey-holes.

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.

References: https://www.scienceandthesea.org/program/201008/balloon-fish

Honeycomb cowfish swimming in the tank at the aquarium.

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.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honeycomb_cowfish

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.

One of the many formations one can see in the grand cavern at Carlsbad Caverns 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 forth.

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.

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Three for one: Flashback Friday, random holiday (a day late), and photography challenge day 68: World Penguin Day (a day late)

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.

Rockhopper Penguins at the New England Aquarium

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.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockhopper_penguin

Little Blue Penguins at the New England Aquarium

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.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_penguin

African Penguins at the New England Aquarium

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.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_penguin

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.

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Fishy Friday: An edition from the New England Aquarium. Photography Challenge Day 47: The bonnet-head shark

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.

Bonnet-head shark swimming in the large tank.

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).

Bonnet head shark from “below”

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.

References:

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/pdf/10.1098/rspb.2018.1583

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/12-shark-facts-may-surprise-you

http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/bonnethead_shark

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Fishy Friday: Another pick from the New England Aquarium & Photography Challenge Day 40

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

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.

Reference:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterocongrinae

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.

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Fishy Friday: Photography Challenge Day 33. Some favorites from the New England Aquarium

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:

Moray Eel

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.

Ray swimming through the fishes.

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 or common seadragon

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.

https://www.britannica.com/animal/moray-eel
https://www.sportdiver.com/photos/species-moray-eel
http://murexdive.com/moray-eels-facts/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batoidea
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_seadragon

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