Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Marine Biology At Its Best!

In the field of marine biology, there have been many new discoveries. Some are new species others are missing links. This post will show you some the newly discovered species as well as some other fascinating marine species.

Check out this newspaper article from Hawaii about a Giant Jellyfish also known as, Anomalorhiza shawi. This jellyfish, although rare and hardly seen, is not a recent discovery. This giant jelly was found in Kane‘ohe Bay, Hawaii. This is extremely rare for this species to be in tropic waters. Anomalorhiza shawi is usually found in colder waters around the Philippines. This is only the second sighting of the giant jelly since 1983. The jelly’s “umbrella” is about 2 feet in diameter. They do sting but they don’t have one that is strong enough to hurt a person too badly. Click here to see footage of the huge animal for the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

Another jellyfish that is commonly seen and not thought about much is the Moon Jellyfish, also known as Aurelia aurita, saucer jelly, and common jellyfish. It is relatively small only measuring at around 5-40 centimeters. The jelly has many different color and dot patterns on its bell. Like the giant jellyfish, the moon jellyfish’s sting is mild. The moon jelly prefers swimming closer to the surface of the water. Doing this helps their tentacles cover more area so they can grab something to eat. An interesting fact about the moon jelly is that they have what is called rhopalial centers. Rhopalial centers allow the jelly to control the rate at which their bell pulses. This, in the end, allows them to control their respiratory rate when the oxygen level is too low. Here is a great picture of the Moon Jelly.

The Common Dolphin is not the dolphin you’re thinking of. The common dolphin goes by other names such as Mahi Mahi (which means strong strong in Hawaiian), Dorado (meaning gold in Spanish), Coryphaena hippurus or the dolphinfish. This is a fish, unlike the other dolphin which is a marine mammal. The common dolphin usually has a blue dorsal fin and upper part and progressively gets into a light green color. They are also known to have gold on their bodies. The common dolphin is found in tropical waters in the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans. They move around or migrate a lot and are found in schools around coastal areas or even in the open ocean. The diet of the Mahi Mahi is usually squid and crustaceans but ranges to other fish and zooplankton, which are microscopic organisms that drift around the ocean. Here is a great picture of a Mahi Mahi.

The Mola mola, or Common Mola, is an ocean sunfish. They can reach enormous lengths. The largest being over 10 feet long and weighing almost two and a half tons. Most of their body is their head and behind the head there are two large fins called, sweeping fins. In most pictures and sightings the sweeping fins appear to be on the side of the fish because of its position but really it is on the top and bottom of the fish. On the shark-like, sand paper feeling skin there is a layer of mucus. This layer of mucus is extremely important to the fish. It is important because of its diet which consists of different jellyfish, Portuguese Man-O-War, and jellyfish-like zooplankton. The jellyfish could injure the Mola mola without the mucus and the Portuguese Man-O-War has been known to kill people. So the mucus is vital to the survival of this species. The mola has also been known to eat small fish, deep sea eel, serpent star parts, and sponges. According to studies, a four and a half foot Mola mola female produces over three hundred million eggs (that’s 300,000,000 eggs)! The Mola mola has one of the most eggs per female out of most other fish. This is again vital to the growth of the species. Because of the mola’s close relation to the puffer fish after a larvae hatches, it has what appear to be spikes around its body. After growing up to a full grown Mola mola, it has many predators to worry about. One being parasites. On average a mola has over 40 different species of parasites in and on its body! If the parasites aren’t enough then it is two main predators, Killer Whales (Orcas), Sea Lions, and once dead starfish. Check out this video of the Mola mola. Click here or here for pictures.

The Great White Shark, my favorite animal in the ocean. The Great White Shark is obviously a type of shark. It is also know as Carcharodon carcharias but, it has many names: White pointer, white shark, manila shark, and even Man-Eater. It has generally two colors blue and white. White Sharks generally grow to huge lengths of twenty feet and weighing over five thousand pounds! Although huge, they are known to be extremely fast, mostly because of its torpedo shaped body. They also have extremely dark, usually completely black, eyes, that almost look glass. The Great White Shark has an extremely large habitat range, from California to Africa. They also have an appetite that matches the habitat’s size. Whites eat a huge variety of food. They eat a lot of marine mammals such as elephant seals and sea lions. They also eat a wide variety of fish. The Great White would not be able to have such variety in their diet if it wasn’t for their razor sharp and large teeth. The shark has many rows of these teeth so that when a few fall out the are replaced as soon as possible.
The Great White Shark is probably best known for its hit movie, Jaws (1975).This movie, admittingly good, really struck fear into the hearts of swimmers and people around the world. The movie is based off of a shark that was caught off the coast of New Jersey in the 1970’s. It was caught by Frank Mundus (October 21, 1925-September 10, 2008), whom my dad and I knew. The shark was 4,500 pounds. Mundus was the inspiration for the character Captain Quint, in Jaws. One of Captain Quint’s most famous quotes actually gives some factual information about sharks but also strikes fear:
"Sometimes that shark he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about a shark ... he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living ... until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then ... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'. The ocean turns red, and despite all the poundin' and the hollerin', they all come in and they ... rip you to pieces." -Captain Quint, Jaws (1975)
One fact in there is that they have black eyes and the other is that their eyes roll back when they bite to protect them, because they don’t have eye lids.

Most marine animals are not well appreciated and the purpose of this post is to give some appreciation for these animals. The more people know, the more they have to respect.

1) Why aren't Giant Jellyfish often seen in tropical waters?
2) Why is the Mahi Mahi, Dorado, or dolphinfish commonly called the Common Dolphin?
3) What are some downfalls and positives to being extremely migratory?
4) What are some advantages of having such a large head?

(NOTE: This post can also be found at

Monday, January 11, 2010


What has been you favorite discussion topic in a biology or science class?
Give us a quick one or two sentence overview of the topic.

The Facebook Blog

How many people prefer Facebook over Myspace? What are your reasons?

The First Post

This is the first post on my new blog. This blog is ment specifically for the use at the Science Onling 2010 meeting, so please on vulgar language and please no flame wars. Feel free to comment on anything, just please stay on topic