Search Results for: seahorses

5 (more) fun facts about seahorses

Seahorse at the National Aquarium in DC

Seahorses are a fascinating species to observe. I took my nephew to the National Aquarium in DC this past weekend and we were memorized by the  aquatic centaurian-like bony fish (pictured right).  I’ve written about seahorses in the past, and from the traffic of that post I can tell that a seahorse post is much appreciated by the BCS readers, so I thought I’d take a some time to delve into more of their hallmark traits.

Here are  5 more fun facts about seahorses to add to the list (written almost 3 years ago!). Please feel free to comment below or email info@beachchairscientist.com if you have something you’d love to share about seahorses!

  1. The genus name of the approximately 35 species of seahorses is ‘Hippocampus’. ‘Hippo’ is Greek for ‘horse’ and ‘kampos’ is Greek for ‘sea monster’. The cross section of the hippocampus in our brain is shaped like a seahorse.
  2. For over 400 years many Eastern cultures have been using seahorses in medicines to cure asthma, lower cholesterol, as well as prevent arteriosclerosis.
  3. Seahorses uses their strong prehensile tail to grasp onto sea grasses and other stable plants. They are decent (not strong) swimmers and use their snout to suck up food (plankton, as well as tiny fish and shrimp).
  4. Often storms are a threat to adult seahorses as they will pull the seahorse off its anchoring plant. Other natural threats can include sea turtles, sharks, rays, and tuna. A major non-natural threat are divers that like to scoop up seahorses for aquariums (although, many ‘seahorse ranches’ are popping up).
  5. Seahorses lack the scales that a ‘normal’ fish might have and instead have bony plates arranged as rings. The bony plates are very similar to that of the Stegosaurus. Each seahorse species has a unique number of rings.

If you want to learn more on seahorses (in particular – how humans have learned to immortalize them in artwork, literature, and myths),  I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of Poseidon’s Steeed: The Story of Seahorse, From Myth to Reality by Helen Scales.

5 fun facts about seahorses

English: Hippocampus zosterae at the Birch Aqu...

English: Hippocampus zosterae at the Birch Aquarium, San Diego, California, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. The female lays her eggs in the male’s tummy pouch, he then incubates them for about 30 days, then they hatch.
  2. Seahorses do not have a stomach; they eat constantly to help get enough food to digest.
  3. Seahorses do not have teeth; they have a fused jaws, so they kind of suck up their food like a straw.
  4. Seahorses can be an inch to a foot more in size.
  5. Seahorse species vary in monogamy.

Do you have another great question? Check out www.beachchairscientist.com and let us know what you always ponder while digging your toes in the sand!

Hark! The herald angel (shark) strikes?

Angel Shark

Just one of the 25 Christmas/winter marine themed organisms on the Pinterest board. Check out the others here: http://www.pinterest.com/beachcscientist/christmaswinter-themed-marine-organisms/

Not often. But, the angel shark has been known to strike – if provoked. These strikes are similar to those made by its cartilaginous relatives, rays and skates, coming from the surface of the ocean floor (they’re pretty good with the camouflage as you might notice from the picture on the right). However, unlike rays and skates, the nocturnal angel shark doesn’t have a mouth on the underside of its body, but rather in front. This location is best suited for a diet of crustaceans, mollusks, and flatfish. With their enormous mouth they’ll suck the prey in and swallow it whole.

But, one of the most significant “Did you know?s” about the angel shark are that their lower lobe is longer than the upper lobe, whereas most shark caudal fins are top-heavy.

Also, pretty fun to learn is that angel sharks are ovoviviparous, just like frilled sharks, seahorses, and scorpionfish. This means “The young sharks tend to develop inside the female mothers.”

Have you visited the Sant Ocean Hall?

I’m lucky enough to live and work in the DC metro area, one of the biggest reasons I love this city (besides being able to feel the thrill and excitement of the Inauguration this past weekend) is the access to free museums. If you’re an ocean lover you might be surprised to know that there are some great spots to visit in DC in between all of the historical monuments you’re checking out. One of my favorite spots to check out on a rainy afternoon in the extension of the National Aquarium on 14th Street. Another fantastic spot would be the Sant Ocean Hall in the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History. It is the largest and one of the newest exhibits in the museum and contains over 674 specimens, including a replica of a 45-foot-long North Atlantic Right Whale (pictured below), fish x-rays, a scalloped hammerhead (below),  and a giant squid! I cannot wait to visit next month when there’s an exhibit of underwater pictures by Brian Skerry (check out his National Geographic Ocean Soul book here). The next time you’re in DC you have to make a point to visit, as they say “like the real ocean, the deeper visitors explore – the more they will discover”. My two-year old loved all of the interactive exhibits and the space was buzzing with enthusiastic school children. I was particularly happy that the exhibit hall was large enough that we were never on top of anyone and could always escape the ‘enthusiastic school children’. Here are some pictures from my visit on Friday.

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What is your favorite ocean-themed children’s book?

Summer is unofficially here and with that comes trips to the beach! To keep the theme going at home I am on a mission to discover new ocean-themed books to share with my little one. I compiled this list after some research and from your feedback on Facebook and Twitter. Please share by commenting below if you have a new book to add to the list. Also, scroll down and fill out the survey to share which one(s) are your favorite.

‘The Serpent Came to Gloucester’ by M.T. Anderson: (Ages 6 and up) Drawing on a true story, an award-winning author and illustrator present a picture-book tribute to the beauty and mystery of the ocean, and to the mesmerizing creatures that may frolic there.

‘Commotion in the Ocean’ by Gil Andreae: (Ages 3 and up)  The sequel to the best-selling “Rumble in the Jungle”, this delightful new collection of poems includes fun rhymes about the creatures who live in and around the ocean. Children will delight in the snappy poems and colorful illustrations about whales, walruses, penguins, polar bears, stingrays and sharks.

‘Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef’ by Marianne Berkes: (Ages 3 and up) This coral reef is a marine nursery, teeming with parents and babies! In the age-old way of kids and fish, children will count and sing to the rhythm of “Over in the Meadow” while pufferfish “puff,” gruntfish “grunt” and seahorses “flutter.”

A House for Hermit Crab‘ by Eric Carle: (Ages 5 and up) His modern-day fable is both wise and simple; based on the true habits of the hermit crab, it not only introduces young readers to the wonder and beauty of the marine environment but also contains an encouraging message for small children facing the inevitable challenges of growing up.

‘Mister Seahorse’ by Eric Carle: (Ages 2 and up) When Mrs. Seahorse lays her eggs, she does it on Mr. Seahorse’s belly! She knows he will take good care of them. While he swims waiting for the eggs to hatch, he meets some other underwater fathers caring for their babies: Mr. Tilapia, who carries his babies in his mouth; Mr. Kurtus, who keeps his on his head; and Mr. Catfish, who is baby-sitting his young hatchlings.

‘The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor’ by Joanna Cole: (Ages 4 and up) When Ms. Frizzle drives the Magic School Bus full speed ahead into the ocean, the class takes a submarine expedition that’s anything but ordinary. With a well-meaning lifeguard in tow, the class takes a deep breath and learns about hot water vents, coral reefs, plant and animal life on the ocean floor, and more!

‘Abby’s Aquarium Adventure Series’ by Heidi de Maine: (Ages 5-10) Stories that teach about different types of fish and how to remember their names easily, it also shows the kids what an aquarist does in his/her job at the aquarium.

‘The Disappearing Island‘ by Corinne Demas: (Ages 6-10) Carrie wonders about the mysterious island that her grandmother plans to take her to on her ninth birthday, a place that is visible only at low tide and the rest of the time remains a secret beneath the waves.

Crab Moon‘ by Ruth Horowitz: (Ages 6-10) June’s full moon casts an atmospheric glow over Kiesler’s (Old Elm Speaks, 1998) soft-focus shore scenes in this brief consciousness raiser.

‘A Day in the Salt Marsh’ by Kevin Kurtz: (Ages 5 and up) Enjoy A Day in the Salt Marsh, one of the most dynamic habitats on earth. Fun-to-read, rhyming verse introduces readers to hourly changes in the marsh as the tide comes and goes.

Carry on Mr. Bowditch‘ by Jean Lee Latham: (Grades 2 – 6) The story of a boy who had the persistence to master navigation in the days when men sailed by “log, lead, and lookout,” and who authored The American Practical Navigator, “the sailor’s Bible.”

‘Swimmy’ by Leo Lionni: (Ages 4 and up) Deep in the sea there lives a happy school of little fish. Their watery world is full of wonders, but there is also danger, and the little fish are afraid to come out of hiding . . . until Swimmy comes along. Swimmy shows his friends how—with ingenuity and team work—they can overcome any danger.

The Coast Mappers‘ by Taylor Morrison: (Grades 2 – 6) In the mid-nineteenth century, little was known of the west coast and waterways. The ships that sailed those waters did so at a considerable risk, sometimes depending on only a school atlas to navigate and all too often crashing into the rocks.

‘The Young Man and the Sea‘ by W. R. Philbrick: (Ages 9 and up) Award winner Rodman Philbrick’s powerful middle-grade novel is a story of determination and survival–of a boy’s exhilirating encounter with a fish that first nearly kills him but then saves his life.

‘Beach Day’ by Karen Roosa: (Ages 4 and up) In this charming picture book, a cheerful family tumbles out of the car and onto the beach, ready for a perfect day.

‘Hello Ocean‘ by Pam Munoz Ryan: (Ages 4-7) This rhyming picture book about the pleasures of a day at the beach goes through the day while using the sense.

‘I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean’ by Kevin Sherry: (Ages 4-7) When a giant squid takes inventory of all of the creatures in the ocean, he realizes that he?s way bigger than most of them! Of course, there are bigger things lurking around . . . but maybe this giant squid with a giant touch of hubris doesn’t really care?

‘The Suzanne Tate Nature Series‘ by Suzanne Tate: (Preschool – 4th grade) Suzanne Tate’s Nature Series is a unique series of 34 books about marine life. Teaching guides are available for books 1 through 28. In each colorfully illustrated book for early childhood (Pre-K-4), biologically accurate information is combined with an exciting story line. The books also promote self-esteem and environmental awareness.

The Boathouse Buddies Series’ by Karen Thomason and Ilene Baskette: (Grade 2 – 6) The Boat House Buddies deals with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in a series of ten books.

‘Far From Shore: Chronicles of an Open Ocean Voyage‘ by Sophie Webb: (Ages 9 and up) In extremely deep waters (two miles deep), the vast sea appears empty. But as naturalist and artist Sophie Webb shows us, it is full of fascinating—yet difficult to study—life. Together with her shipmates, Sophie counts and collects samples of life in the deep ocean, from seabirds to dolphins, from winged fish to whales.

‘Flotsam’ by David Wiesner: (Ages 4 and up) A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam–anything floating that has been washed ashore.

‘The Seashore Book‘ by Charlotte Zolotow: (Ages 3 and up) A young boy, who has never seen the sea, asks his mother to describe it. From there, Zolotow carefully chooses her words to create a poem full of the colors, sounds, and sights of a day at the beach.

The summaries and book covers can be attributed to the link associated with the title of the book.

Which book(s) are your favorite?

Happy Chinese New Year … Year of the (Sea) Dragon!

Happy Chinese New Year … Year of the (Sea) Dragon!

January 23 will bring a very significant celebration for those that live by the sea … it is the year of the water dragon which only occurs every six decades! To commemorate such an occasion, BCS will highlight two very remarkable and elaborate dragons found off the coast of south and east Australia. The leafy seadragon (Phycodurus eques) and the weedy seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) are related to the more familiar seahorse and pipefish.

Leafy Seadragon

Although they may share the similar feature of a long snout with the seahorse and pipefish, the seadragon’s appendages coming from their solid, armor-like skin are what really set them apart. The leafy seadragon, often yellowish-green, is much more ornate than the reddish colored weedy seadragon. Although, the weedy seadragon does have some striking bright blue bands along its upper body. Unlike seahorses,  seadragons do not use their tails to grasp onto the seaweeds or algae that they call home. In fact, the seadragons prefer to drift although they can use their transparent dorsal and pectoral fins to help navigate.

Weedy Seadragon

Similar to seahorses, male seadragons do the child bearing. The males have a brood patch under their tails (unlike the seahorse that have a pouch on their belly). The female will lay approximately 250 eggs on the patch at the time of fertilization and the eggs will hatch approximately 6 weeks later. The tiny juvenile seadragons look exactly like their parents but are immediately independent from them. This is their most vulnerable time of life when they may be eaten by various anemones, crabs, or hydroids. But if they avoid these predators and eat plenty of zooplankton the seadragon will grow to be either 14 inches (leafy) or 18 inches (weedy). The adults usually feast on sea lice or mysid shrimp. Of course, that is also if they manage to evade people collecting them for black market aquariums and staying away from areas where there is pollution and habitat loss.

Other interesting facts about seadragons are that their eyes move independently and they have no teeth or stomach!

Resources:

  • http://australian-animals.net/dragon.htm
  • http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/sea-dragon/
  • http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/efc/efc_splash/splash_animals_seadragon.aspx