Archive for the ‘Marine Science’ Category

Leatherback turtle

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

leatherback

Common name: Leatherback turtle

Scientific name: Dermochelys coriacea

Distribution: All oceans, sub-arctic to tropical waters

Nests on: Tropical beaches

Beach type: Wide beaches with steep slope, rock free deep water approach. In India, nests in the Andaman and Nicobar islands mainly. Main nesting sites are Galathea on the east coast and several beaches in the west coast of Great Nicobar, Little Nicobar and Little Andaman Islands.

Weight (adult): 500 kg +

Carapace length: 140 – 170 cm

Carapace shape: Elongate and tapering with seven prominent dorsal ridges;

scutes always absent.

Colouration: Mostly black with white spotting;

pink or bluish pots on base of neck and flippers.

Costal scutes: Absent

Head shape: Triangular; two maxillary cusps (tooth-like notch on either side of upper jaw).

Prefrontal scales: None

Limbs: Forelimbs extremely long

Plastron: Relatively small and distensible with 5 longitudinal ridges.

Time of nesting: Night

Clutches per season: 4 – 6

Clutch size: 80 – 100

Egg size: ~ 5 cm in diameter

Re-nesting interval: 9 – 10 days

Re-migration interval: 2 – 3 years

Track: 150 – 200 cm wide, deep and broad, with symmetrical diagonal marks made by forelimbs, usually with a deep median groove from the long tail.

leatherbacktrack

Ocean Facts

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

molaWhat’s the heaviest living bony fish in the ocean?

Ocean sunfish or Mola mola, have an average weight of 2,200 lb, but can reach up to 5,100 pounds. The sunfish has and average length of 5.9 ft and a fin-to-fin length of 8.2 ft, but specimens up to 11 ft in length and 14 ft from fin-to fin are not uncommon.

 

oarWhat’s the longest living bony fish in the ocean?

Giant oarfish are the longest bony fish alive; growing to up to 36 ft in length, their snake like body is thought to be responsible for the many mythical sightings of sea serpents recorded in history.

 

Whale-Shark-HomepageWhat is the largest living fish?

Whale Sharks are slow-moving filter feeding shark, the lack the furious jaws of their cousins, and are noted for being docile creatures. The can grow up to 46 feet in length and weigh upward of 66,000 pounds!

 

sailWhat is the fastest living fish?

Sailfish can reach speeds of 68 miles per hour! They are members of the billfish family, and can grow up to 10 feet in length and weigh up to 220 pounds! The leatherback differs from its hardshelled cousins ats its body is covered with a leathery like skinn

 

leatherbackWhat is the largest living sea turtle?

Leatherbacks are the largest of all living turtles and are the fourth-heaviest modern reptile behind crocodilians. Adults average 6.0–7.2 ft in total length, and 550 to 1,540 lb in weight.

 

blueWhat is the largest marine animal?

Blue whales are not only the largest marine animal, but the largest animals ever known to have lived on Earth. These animals can reach 100 feet long and upwards of 200 tons in weight. Their tongues alone can weigh as much as an elephant. They are also the loudest with a call that reached 188 decibels.

 

natWhat is the oldest marine animal?

We may never be able to pinpoint this but the Nautilus is thought to be 500 million years old, Jellies 650 million years, and sponges are estimated at 750 million years old!

 

2013-07-04-boxangel1What is the most venomous marine animal?

Box Jellies have caused at least 5,567 recorded deaths since 1954. Their venom is among the most deadly in the world. Its toxins attack the heart, nervous system, and skin cells. You have virtually no chance to survive the venomous sting, unless treated immediately

From Ocean to Sound

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

moleThe coast of North Carolina is protected by a string of barrier islands. These islands support distinct and varied ecosystem in the few hundred yards separating the crashing waves of the ocean to the calm tides of the sound.

In the few feet that encompass waves breaking onto the shore an entire ecosystem exists. This is where beach are made! In the surf zone wave power shifts the sands. Shells are plentiful as they continue to degrade. Once living creatures, these skeletons erode with each wave that drags them across the bottom – contributing to the volume of sand on the beach. Mole crabs call this area home and these tiny filter-feeding crustaceans are key to the coastal food chain. Many migratory marine birds and fish depend on these tiny burrowing animals as a main source of food.

seaoat11-300x199Sand dunes act as the anchors and builders on the ocean side of a barrier island. The vegetation helps secure the loose sand blown along shore by winds gust. Dunes can take years to build, but the wave energy of one storm can wipe them out. A prime example of how these islands are in a constant state of destruction and reconstruction.

treeJust past the dune and a little more inland you will often find a marine forest. A twist of salt sprayed branched distinguishes this area from the surrounding island. The constant assault of offshore winds and briny air bend and stunts the trees on the ocean side. This is the area containing the most abundant terrestrial plant and animal life, because the tree cover offers more protection from the elements.

slatmarshThe island dips back into the ocean on the sound side. Tall marsh grass and calm currents define the nursery habitat found on the backside of a barrier island. Mud and silt from depositing river deltas becomes trapped by plant roots providing a nutrient rich habitat for juvenile marine species that depend on these protected water for development.

Seabirds

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

albarossMarine birds have generally evolved to survive and feed near the sea. Though the name suggests a life at sea many species spend a good portion of their life hundreds if not thousands of miles inland. Nesting grounds can be far from the coast with birds traveling to seek food.

blue-footed-booby-profileThere is no generalization that encompasses all types of sea dependent birds, but in general seabirds expel a large amount of energy on raising their young, of which they have fewer than most terrestrial birds. Due to the excess amount of care required to insure the survival of their offspring both parents typically participate in caring for the young. Parental pairs can be monogamous for a season or a lifetime depending on the species.

Another characteristic that often set seabirds apart is the vast migration a few species undertake between feeding, breeding, and nesting grounds – some seabird are even capable of circumnavigating the globe!

Dpenguinsepending on a species individual feeding habits most have developed adaptations which equip them for a life at sea. Diving birds typical have shorter wings and denser feathers -while the heavy migrators, such as the albatross, depend on gliding to conserve energy during flight. Webbed feet and Waterproof plumage are very common as with most aquatic birds they help in propulsion and body heat retention both above and below the water. Slat glands are exhibited in most species to handle the excess salt consumer when eating and drinking at sea.

Marine Arthropods

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

DesktopBoth crabs and crustaceans are of the phylum Arthropoda. In fact Arthropoda encompasses almost 75% of all animals’ on this earth.

By definition arthropods are invertebrates, meaning they lack a backbone. Arthropods are characterized by segmented bodies, jointed legs, and a hard exoskeleton. The land forms of arthropods include scorpions, spiders, and most insects while the marine forms are divided into three distinct groups – Horseshoe crabs, Sea Spiders, and Crustaceans.

Crustaceans include barnacles, shrimp, lobster, mole crabs, and true crabs. A few defining characteristic of crustaceans include their ability to molt (shed their shell), Metamorphoses (change body form during life stages), and regenerate (regrow lost limbs).

spinylobster2Blue crabs, stone crabs, and fiddler crabs are just a few examples of true crabs and are characterized by a short tail that is folded under the body.

Barnacles are small volcano-shaped animals that are sessile in adult form and therefore must utilize filter feeding. Mole crabs are small egg-shaped animals that inhabit the swash zone. They are an important link in the ocean food chain as numerous animals feed upon them. Shrimp and lobster appear to have a similar body form with the abdomen (tail) stretched out behind them.

horseHorseshoe crabs are one of the oldest known living species of animals on earth, it is believed that the lived in the ocean more than 600 million year ago.  Horseshoe crabs are so old they are in a class of their own. Though menacing in appearance they are actually rather docile.

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