Label: Oceans

February 28, 2013

So I had a hitchhiker anemone in my saltwater aquarium. Using the SeeMore Explorers Observation Log, I finally figured out that the hitchhiker was named an Aiptasia anemone, also known as a Rock, Tube or Glass Rose Anemone. It’s called a pest not because it keeps asking questions you can’t answer (only kidding), but because it can multiply rapidly, grow quickly and more-or-less take over the aquarium from other invertebrates.

The Aiptasia Anemone looks like a tiny palm tree, with a long, thin body and miniature, waving tentacles on top. Like many other anemones, Aiptasia uses its tentacles to sting enemies and food animals that come too close. The tentacles have stinging cells called nematocysts that can sting fish, crabs, shrimp, coral and anything else (like your fingers) that come too close. An Aiptasia also withdraws into a tiny hole in the rock if threatened.

It’s hard to get rid of a colony of Aiptasia in an aquarium. If you try to rip it out, each tiny torn piece that you leave behind grows into a new animal. This results in more animals than you originally started with. BAD IDEA! So what do you do?

 

In doing research to find the answer, I searched on the Internet using these terms: "control unwanted Aiptasia Aquarium." You could have used many similar words and come up with suggestions about what to do. And here’s one simple solution I discovered: Purchase a small, colorful animal called a peppermint shrimp. A peppermint shrimp in an aquarium is part of what’s called "the cleanup crew." It likes to eat leftover food that you feed to the fish. It also has an interesting taste for…guess what?? It eats Aiptasia anemones!

And that’s exactly what I did. I purchased two peppermint shrimp and put them in my small reef aquarium. The next morning I looked in and the Aiptasia was gone. It worked exactly as I had read. The peppermint shrimp ate the Aiptasia and I have two new colorful members of the new cleanup crew, my new heroes, peppermint shrimp.

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Coral Reefs, Oceans   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 26, 2013

Yesterday, I posted a story called "Mysterious Visitor in my Aquarium," about finding an unexpected living thing in my aquarium. I wrote about how I figured out what it is, and said that in my next post, I will tell you all what I am going to do about it.

Today, I heard from Mrs. Sposito’s class in Menands, New York. Her students are regular visitors here, and this is what they wrote:

Hello Mr. Simon,

            How many tentacles did the pest anemone have? What color was the anemone? We took a class survey and predicted that you would take the pest anemone out of your tank. We can’t wait to hear what you decided to do with the pest.

Your friends,

Mrs. Sposito’s First Grade Class

Menands School

 

Hmmmmm…..good questions. This is a picture of what it looked like. It is called an Aiptasia anemone, which probably came in as a "hitchhiker," on a rock or plant that I put in. It is a reddish brown color, but it is far in the back, behind some rocks, so I can’t say for sure how many tentacles it had.  

These creatures are not easy to remove. Stand by for the end of the story. I think you will be surprised to hear how I solved this problem!

  

Photo: Debbie Hauter

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Coral Reefs, Oceans, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 25, 2013

I’ve kept freshwater aquariums for many years and I’ve always enjoyed setting them up and keeping them going. But it’s been a long time since I’ve set up a saltwater (marine) aquarium. Nearly forty years ago I even wrote a book titled TROPICAL SALTWATER AQUARIUMS but technology and our understanding of keeping aquariums have changed. So when I decided to set up a new saltwater aquarium, I pretty much had to start from the beginning.

I had just finished writing my new book about CORAL REEFS and I wanted to see if I could keep some kinds of coral in an aquarium, so I decided that I would set up a reef aquarium. A reef aquarium contains both fishes and some kinds of coral and other invertebrates as well. My aquarium has been going for about two months now and everything seems to be going fine. I have two saltwater fish (a clown fish and a yellow tailed blue damsel), an anemone (called a bubble-tipped anemone), hermit crabs and several kinds of coral.

Imagine my surprise the other day when I saw a new kind of living thing in the tank; something I had never put into the tank. I pulled out my LED flashlight to take a better look and saw that the mysterious visitor had a central trunk and then a top with many waving tentacles. I imagine that it come in as a hitchhiker on some rocks or plants that I had put into the tank. So I decided to try to find out what it was and whether it was a welcome or unwelcome intruder. I used the SeeMore Explorers Observation Log and wrote down what I saw.

Well, the mysterious visitor turned out to be a kind of anemone and a very unwelcome one at that. You can read how I found out on the observation log (below). As to what I did then, you’ll have to read that on my next installment on the blog! 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Animals, Coral Reefs, Oceans   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 18, 2013

Tourists on a whale watching boat off the coast of California saw a rare sight this week. Their boat followed thousands of dolphins in a superpod that the captain estimated was seven miles (11 kilometers) long and five miles (8 kilometers) wide. The ship’s captain estimated there were 100,000 dolphins.

Of course, we know that dolphins are highly social animals, living in pods of as many as a dozen dolphins. Sometimes, especially when there is a lot of food in the area, pods come together into superpods. That appears to be what happened here.

Can you imagine all the talking with that many dolphins together? I would love to have seen (and heard) that sight!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Dolphins, Oceans   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 12, 2013

In honor of Valentine’s Day, our Cool Photo of the Week is this shot of a Pygmy Seahorse.

 

 

 

These tiny creatures are found in the waters off Southeast Asia. They live on soft corals or grasses which they use as camouflage.

These are some of the smallest seahorse species in the world - most are less than 2 centimetres (0.79 inches) tall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This second photo, published by Ali Watters on TravelBlog, shows just how tiny  the pygmy seahorse is - about the size of the fingernail on his pinky finger!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day to all our readers! 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Coral Reefs, Oceans, Cool Photo, Holidays   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 5, 2013

Today’s Cool Photo of the Week is a Porcupinefish. They are found in warm tropical waters all over the world.

People often refer to them as "blowfish" because of their ability to make their body bigger and rounder by swallowing air or water. This reduces the number of predators to fish or animals with very large mouths. They even have a backup defense mechanism - those sharp spines, which stick out when the fish is inflated. Some of them have poison in their internal organs, another reason to avoid them. As you can imagine, this fish has very few predators.

Porcupinefish are just one of the fascinating creatures found in coral reefs, which is the subject of my new book, coming out at the end of April. These reefs are like huge cities under the sea, teeming with inhabitants from fish to plants to a wide variety of invertebrates like coral. I loved studying about them as I was writing the book, and I think you will be amazed by some of the photographs! 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Coral Reefs, Oceans, Cool Photo, Fish   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 15, 2013

         

Dust + Rain = An Amazing Sight!

This incredible sight is the result of a rain cloud and a dust storm meeting and combining off the western coast of Australia. Tug boat worker Brett Martin snapped this photograph of the amazing red cloud traveling rapidly across the Indian Ocean.

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Oceans, Cool Photo, Weather   •  Permalink (link to this article)

November 21, 2012

I can hardly bring myself to call this the "Cool Photo of the Week." It is more like the ASTOUNDING photo of the week!

This shipwreck was long buried under the sand dunes on Fire Island - a barrier island off Long Island, New York. The force of Hurricane Sandy completely reconfigured the beaches of Fire Island, and exposed the bones of this wrecked schooner.

Park rangers think that it is the wreck of the Bessie White, which ran aground off Fire Island in either 1919 or 1922 - almost 100 years ago! The Bessie White was a four-mast Canadian schooner, went aground in heavy fog. The crew and the ship’s cat escaped in lifeboats, but they couldn’t save the ship or the tons of coal that it was carrying.

Seeing the sand rearranged to the point that this buried shipwreck is revealed really gives you an idea of how strong the winds and surf are during a hurricane. 

 

Photo: Cheryl Hapke, USGS 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(7) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Oceans, Cool Photo, Hurricanes   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 2, 2012

Tourists come from all over to visit Japan’s Toyama Bay between March and June, when millions of breeding firefly squid come to Toyama Bay to drop their eggs. The firefly squid is bioluminescent (buy-oh-loom-ih-NESS-cent), which means that is has special organs in its body that can produce light. Each of the squid’s tentacle has a light-producing organ called a photophore (FO-to-for). The squids flash these lights to attract small fish, on which the squid can then feed. The firefly squid can also light up its whole body to attract a mate.

I would love to see this, wouldn’t you?

       

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Oceans, Cool Photo, Marine Life   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 27, 2012

 

 

I was walking on the beach this weekend and came across a lot of very big, brown shells. I used a SeeMore Explorers Observation Log to describe what I saw:

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I actually knew what the animal was, but I wanted my readers to see how it is possible to figure out what you are seeing in nature.

I have always been fascinated by horseshoe crabs. Did you know that they are one of oldest living creatures? They have been around for 450 million years, which means they were here on Earth 200 million years before the dinosaurs!

The reason the shell I picked up was so light was because the crab was not in there any longer. Horseshoe crabs molt as they grow - that means that they shed their hard shells when they grow out of them. They walk out of the hard shell, and their inner shell, which they already have, begins to harden, becoming their new outer shell. Horseshoe crabs molt many times - 16 times for males, 17 times for females - before they are fully grown. If the shell had been heavy, then it would have been a dead animal.

One other interesting thing about horseshoe crabs is that they are not actually in the crustacean (crab and other shellfish) family. They are more closely related to arachnids (spiders) than they are to shellfish.

What a fascinating animal. Now can you see why I’ve always been interested in these prehistoric animals called horseshoe crabs?

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Oceans, Seymour Photographs, Marine Life   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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