Archive for May, 2013

CSIROscope Blog

Nananananananana batfish! Pancake batfish that is.

The Louisiana pancake batfish is a newly discovered species native to the Gulf of Mexico. It was only just before the big oil spill in 2010 when these cool critters were first found. Unfortunately the fate of their population following the disaster is not yet known.

It’s no surprise where the name pancake batfish comes from. These funny looking fish have flat bodies with an enlarged head and trunk which form a round disc shape. They are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and are about as thick as a fluffy pancake (probably not as tasty though).

And if you thought turtles were awkward, you haven’t seen these guys move. Pancake batfish have small foot-like fins, complete with elbows, which are used to ‘walk’ along the ocean floor in a bizarre motion – kind of like a crawling bat. Needless to say…

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Behold the lovely colours of a fresh-caught Butterfly Gurnard, Lepidotrigla Vanessa. Lepidotrigla are an Australian representative of the Sea Robin family, whose members are all pretty ostentatious- although this little guy takes the cake!

What you can never see in pictures of this species is the amazing texture of their body. Their scales are like little cobblestones, raised and quite smooth as though the fish has had minute uniform pebbles pave’d down its flanks. Beneath the scales and skin one can feel the presence of light armour plating with much heavier plating in the head.

Said to grow to nearly 30cm, the individual pictured above is a more commonly encountered size. A dermersal species, they are often swept up in trawling operations. More than once I’ve received one in a box with other fish from the market!

Source: unknown

Just when you think it’s safe to go back in the water you discover Bobbit worms… and realise you can’t wait to dive in and see these fierce wee beasties in action!

Bobbit worms (Eunice aphroditois) are polychaetes; not your average worm-they have a shell protecting their body. Polychaete’s are amazing! One specimen was observed at Challenger Deep, the deepest part of all the oceans!

The Bobbit worm is highly predatory. Armed with sharp teeth, it is known to attack with such speeds that its prey is sometimes sliced in half. Although the worm hunts for food, it is omnivorous. It is also covered in bristles that are capable of a sting that results in permanent numbness in humans. This organism buries its long body into an ocean bed composed of gravel, mud or corals, where it waits patiently for something delicious to swim by and tickle its ‘whiskers’.

Little is known about the sexual habits and life span of this worm (that’ll be the ‘permanent numbness’ deterrent; off to the too hard basket for these critters!) but they grow enormously long. Maxing out at a brilliantly horrifying 3 metres, the average specimen is usually a still-scary 1 metre. A long lifespan may account for their great size.

For more action shots, including some very nice close-ups of the Bobbit’s jaws and stunningly beautiful iridescent shell check out this great video- apparently octopus can just shrug these guys off!:


Source: gif-unknown, Wikipedia

This flamboyant beauty is Goniobranchus reticulatus. G. reticulatus’ main claim to fame is it’s sex-life- this Philippino native is not only hermaphroditic, it has a detachable penis! Imagine, if you will, a kind of sexual daisy-chain; a group of individuals with their female genitals receiving genetic material from its neighbour’s penis as they themselves use their penis to service the other neighbour. Ay carumba!
Once business time has concluded they shed their penis and grow a new one within 24 hours, all set in time for the next orgy!

Source: unknown

Photo by Jessica Karcz,  NatGeo’s ‘Your Shot/Photo of the Day’.

“After snorkelling with my family in the breathtaking coral reefs of Roatan, Honduras, I sat outside the balcony of the cruise ship we were traveling on to admire the life and beauty of the ocean. I took the photo with a Nikon D3100 with an 18-55mm lens while the boat was lifting the anchors of the cruise ship just before we sailed away.”

Such beautiful colours in this photo! No idea if Karcz used a polarised lens filter, but you might want to invest in one if you’d like to make your seaside pictures pop.

High resolution wallpaper available to download at the source.

Source: NatGeo

Winter In A Picture!

Photo and story by Sophie Carr

“This is a one-second exposure of the trails left by a crashing wave over small icebergs on Jökulsárlón beach (Iceland); I think it looks a bit like an octopus.”

As submitted to NatGeo’s Traveller Photo Contest 2013. Downloadable wallpaper available at the source.


Source: NatGeo


Beautiful Crinoids

This amazing photo by Rodolphe Holler was captured in the waters of New Caledonia and featured as NatGeo’s ‘Photo Of the Day’. Read Holler’s story here.

Crinoids are marine echinoderms (phylum Echinodermata). Crinoidea comes from the Greek word krinon, “a lily”, and eidos, “form”. ‘Sea lily’ refers to a crinoid which, in its adult form, is attached to the sea bottom by a stalk. Feather stars or comatulids refers to stalkless forms. They live both in shallow water and in depths as great as 6,000 meters.

Crinoids are characterized by a mouth on the top surface that is surrounded by feeding arms. They have a U-shaped gut, and their anus is located next to the mouth. Although the basic echinoderm pattern of fivefold symmetry can be recognized, most crinoids have many more than five arms. Crinoids usually have a stem used to attach themselves to a substrate, but many live attached only as juveniles and become free-swimming as adults.

There are only about 600 extant crinoid species, but they were much more abundant and diverse in the past. Some thick limestone beds dating to the mid- to late-Paleozoic are almost entirely made up of disarticulated crinoid fragments! Learn more.

Source: NatGeo Wikipedia

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