25 December 2012

Twelve baby starfish

Photo: Dr. Richard Kirby Royal Society University Research Fellow
Edited by: Jeniffer Espedido 

These are juvenile Luidia ciliaris. This species is found in the benthic environments of the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas up to a depth of about 400 meters. Usually identified by its orange-brown color and 7 radiating arms. The short arms of these baby starfishes will grow to be really long ones, making these not-so little critters grow to almost 40 centimeters across.

To learn more about this starfish or if you have other information you want to add about them, visit SeaLifeBase or become a collaborator and email us at sealifebase@fin.ph.

Inspired by: 12 Planktons of Christmas by Michele Collet

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24 December 2012

Eleven giant clams

Photo by: © Dr David Wachenfeld/AUSCAPE from Arkive

Tridacna gigas are the huge, colorful clams usually found in reef areas. These Indo-west Pacific clams are the largest living bivalves and are known to reach lengths (shell length) of 137 cm and could weight up to 500 kg. They are one of the most vulnerable clam species, harvested for their meat and shell.

Inspired by: 12 Planktons of Christmas by Michele Collet

To learn more about giant clams or if you have other information you want to add about them, visit SeaLifeBase or become a collaborator and email us at sealifebase@fin.ph.

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23 December 2012

Ten Christmas-tree worms

Photos by: Ole Johan Brett
Edited by: Jeniffer Espedido

The marine polychaete, commonly called the Christmas tree worm, Spirobranchus giganteus, lives on hermatypic corals. Its larvae settle on exposed coral skeletons and extend its tube to the living tissues. They come in a wide array of color combinations like colorful mini-Christmas trees. Yes, even life underwater can light up our festive season.

To learn more about Christmas-tree worms or if you have other information you want to add about them, visit SeaLifeBase or become a collaborator and email us at sealifebase@fin.ph.

Inspired by: 12 Planktons of Christmas by Michele Collet

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22 December 2012

Nine Atlantic puffins

Who here have watched Happy Feet 2? Raise your feet! Do you know the character named Mighty Sven? He told everyone that he's the God-like penguin because he's the only one that can fly but in reality, he's actually a puffin.

Photo by José Azel

Fratercula arctica is the only species found in the Atlantic and thus commonly called Atlantic puffin. Their coloring is similar to that of a penguin but don't be fooled because their beak give them away. The bright orange bill only blooms in color during mating season, it is gray during the rest of the year. They live most of their lives at sea, and go in land during breeding season, in rocky cliff tops. At sea, they practice plunge diving by using their wings to stroke across and flapping their webbed feet. They feed on Benthosema glaciale and Mallotus villosus, both are small bony fishes.

To learn more about Atlantic puffins or if you have other information you want to add about them, visit SeaLifeBase or become a collaborator and email us at sealifebase@fin.ph.

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21 December 2012

Eight staghorn corals

Photo by: Charlie J.E.N. Veron

Acropora cervicornis, commonly known as the staghorn coral, is a branching arborescent stony coral. It is common in reef systems, including reef slopes/drop-offs and subtidal reef tops and edges (Wallace, 1999Veron, 2000). It has also been recorded in a submarine cave (Macintyre et al., 1982). Colors vary from pale brown to tan with white axial corallite (Veron, 2000). This species is currently classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List.

Inspired by: The 12 Planktons of Christmas by Michele Collet

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Seven barrel sponges

Photo by: Craig Hickson

The name 'barrel sponge' is a general common name for  free-standing sponges with rimmed walls and deep, hollow centers. There are actually different species of barrel sponges. Since it basically describes only the shape or growth form, an adjective is usually used to be more precise in identifying species. For instance, Xestospongia testudinaria is simply "barrel sponge" while Xestospongia muta is the "giant barrel sponge"because it can grow up to several meters in height and diameter. Aplysina lacunosa is the "convoluted barrel sponge", Verongula gigantea is the "netted barrel sponge",  and Sidonops neptuni is the "leathery barrel sponge".

Inspired by: 12 Planktons of Christmas by Michele Collet

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19 December 2012

Six combs a-sparkling

Ctenophore photo from Tumblr

Comb jellies sparkle! Light refracted by 8 moving rows of comb-like plates inside their transparent
bodies create this sparkling phenomenon as they move through the water. One of the most studied
comb jellies is the sea walnut or Leidy’s comb jelly, Mnemiopsis leidyi, a native of Eastern United States
and South American (Massachusetts to Argentina) waters [i] which was accidentally introduced in the
Eastern Atlantic (likely via ballast waters) [ii]. The sea walnut can be a voracious predator on zooplankton
including other ctenophores as well as fish and invertebrate larvae [iii]. Thus, an increase in the abundance
of a local sea walnut population may cause a depletion of the local fish [iv] and invertebrate larval [v]
populations. If it wasn’t for this rather adverse effect on commercially important fish species, this tiny
sparkle of the oceans would have probably remained anonymous, most likely becoming fodder to other
organisms and becoming a natural part of an alien ecosystem.

To learn more about comb jellies or if you have other information you want to add about them, visit SeaLifeBase or become a collaborator and email us at sealifebase@fin.ph.

Inspired by: 12 Planktons of Christmas by Michele Collet

[i] Faasse, M.A. and K.M. Bayha, 2006, The ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi A. Agassiz 1865 in coastal waters of the Netherlands: an unrecognized invasion?, Aquatic Invasions 1(4):270-277. 
[ii] Bartley, D.M. (comp./ed.), 2006. Introduced species in fisheries and aquaculture: information for responsible use and control (CD-ROM). Rome, FAO.
[iii] McNamara, M.E., Lonsdale, D.J., Cerrato, R.M., 2010. Shifting abundance of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi and the implications for larval bivalve mortality. Marine Biology 157:401-412. 
[iv] Oguz, T., Fach, B., Salihoglu, B., 2008. Invasion dynamics of the alien ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi and its impact on anchovy collapse in the Black Sea. Journal of Plankton Research 30(12): 1385-1397. 
[v] Shiganova, T.A. and Y.V. Bulgakova, 2000. Effect of gelatinous plankton on the Black and Azov Sea fish and their food resources. ICES Journal of Marine Science 57:641-648.

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18 December 2012

Five harp seal pups

Photos by: (clockwise from top left) Daisy Gilardini, Doug Allan ARKive, Dr. Wayne Lynch (2 photos) and David Boily
Edited by: Jeniffer Espedido

Harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus) are also known as "earless" seals due to their lack of external ear flaps. They are found in polar regions of the Northern Atlantic and parts of the Arctic. It feeds on a variety of crustaceans and open-water fishes during migration, and switch to several varieties of bottom dwelling fishes in summer on the northern grounds. Baby harp seals looks camouflaged in the snow as they have long white fur, that eventually molts and changes to a grayish color when they age.

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17 December 2012

Four nudibranchs

Photos by: Deng Palomares and Nicolas Bailly
Edited by: Jeniffer Espedido
Nudibranchs are colorful and soft-bodied marine mollusks belonging to the order Nudibranchia. It is found at different depths of the ocean but are common in warm shallow waters. There are around 3,000 species of nudibranchs worldwide and still counting as new species are discovered. They come in different colors, from dull to bright colors.

Biological information for each nudibranch in the picture may be viewed in our website (from left to right: Chromodoris willaniPhyllidiella pustulosaGlossodoris atromarginataChromodoris annae). 

Inspired by: 12 Planktons of Christmas by Michele Collet
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Three black sea nettles

Photo by: Jeniffer Espedido
The Chrysaora achlyos is a subtropical species found in the eastern Pacific, specifically USA and Canada. This giant jelly's bell can grow to a diameter of over three feet and its lacy oral arms can reach up to 20 feet in length. Isn't this creature just mystical? It is said that the behavior and life cycle of this sea nettle remains unknown and during most of the year it is nowhere to be found.

To learn more about the black sea nettle or if you have other information you want to add about them, visit SeaLifeBase or become a collaborator and email us at sealifebase@fin.ph.

Inspired by: 12 Planktons of Christmas by Michele Collet

Other references:
Monterey Bay Aquarium (http://www.montereybayaquarium.org)

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15 December 2012

Two sea angels

Photo by: Alexander Semenov
Edited by: Jeniffer Espedido

Clione limacina belongs to the family of sea angels (Clionidae). They are free-swimming non-shelled marine gastropods. They use their wing-like parapodia to swim across the water column [1]. Their slow movement can be described as that of an angel flapping its wings, thus the term "sea angel". These col water hermaphrodites feed on sea butterflies, specifically Limacina helicina and Limacina retroversa, the latter being more favored. The sea angel everts its six adhesive buccal cones towards its prey, inserts its chitinous hooks into the prey’s body then engulfs it wholly [2].

This species was featured in an article entitled “The 12 Plankton of Christmas” by Michele Collet back in 2010.

To learn more about the behavior of sea angels or if you have other information you want to add about them, visit SeaLifeBase or become a collaborator and email us at sealifebase@fin.ph.


[1] Satterlie, R.A., and A.N. Spencer. 1985. Swimming in the pteropod mollusk, Clione limacine: II. Physiology. J. Exp. Biol. 116:205-222.
[2] Conover, R.J., and C.M. Lalli. 1972. Feeding and growth in Clione limacina (Philipps), a pteropod mollusc. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 9:279-302.

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14 December 2012

A Christmas Island red crab

Photo by: WaterFrame, Alamy

Ever wondered where Christmas Island got its name? It's because of this crab! Millions of this endemic red crabs (Gecarcoidea natalis) migrate from burrows of forest to the shores of Christmas Island to spawn every October. During migration, these crabs are a tourist attraction for naturalists and photographers alike. Their migration is so extensive that they are visible from the air. Thus, coining the name of the island.

Photo taken from Travel Troll

We are currently gathering information for this crab. If you have information you want to add about them, become a collaborator and email us at sealifebase@fin.ph.

Inspired by 12 plankton of Christmas by Michele Collet

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SeaLifeBase Project presents...

11 December 2012

Spot shrimp (Pandalus platyceros)

The spot prawn or spot shrimp, Pandalus platyceros, is also known as the California spot prawn and as the Alaskan prawn, names which tell us that the spot shrimp is found along the Pacific coast of North America, that is, from Alaska to San Diego, California (Cowles, 2005); but, they are also found in the Sea of Japan to the Korea Strait (Department of Fisheries and Oceans, 1999).

As its name implies, this red shrimp has distinct white spots, which are found on the first and fifth segments on both sides of its back (Cowles, 2005). The name Pandalus has an obscure origin, but it may be related to the Old Sussex word, pandle, meaning 'shrimp', which is believed to have its origin from the Low Latin, 'pandalus' (Sussex Archaeological Society, 1859), which might be related to the Latin 'pandus', i.e., crook-backed (Hopper). The name 'platyceros' is of Latin meaning 'broad-horn' (Hopper).

Pandalus platyceros photo from Monterey Bay Aquarium

Spot shrimp belongs to Pandalidae family, which is protandrically hermaphroditic, that is, it initially develops and functions as a male and transforms into a female on the third or fourth year and remains as female onwards (Barr, 1973).  Male becomes sexually mature at a total length of 15 cm (Butler, 2011).  It uses Agarum fimbriatum and Agarum cribrosum kelp beds as nursery habitats (Marliave & Roth, 1995) 

They are nocturnal and epibenthic and are found in bed rocks to muddy sand substrates with adequate shelter for day light hiding. They are carnivorous and feed by scavenging dead animal materials and preying on amphipods, euphausids, limpets annelids and other shrimps (Barr, 1973)

They are popular seafood and the subject of an important fishery in British Columbia (Department of Fisheries and Oceans, 1999).

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06 December 2012

Who was the first to see light 700 million years ago?

Researchers from the National University of Ireland Maynooth and University of Bristol solved the mystery of the origin of vision. The origin of vision started with opsin – light-sensitive proteins – development. Using genomic information from recently discovered sponge Oscarella carmela and Cnidarians, which were claimed to have developed the earliest eyes, they produced a timeline showing that a blind opsin ancestor showed up 700 million years ago which evolved 11 million years later to one that can detect light. Dr. Pisani from University of Bristol said:
"The great relevance of our study is that we traced the earliest origin of vision and we found that it originated only once in animals. This is an astonishing discovery because it implies that our study uncovered, in consequence, how and when vision evolved in humans."
Read the full article for a more detailed explanation from here.

Do you have any other information on the sponge Oscarella carmela? Come be a collaborator or send it to us at sealifebase[at]fin[dot]ph.

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04 December 2012

Web update - December 2012

Our website www.sealifebase.org and its mirror site www.sealifebase.ca are now updated. Note that this is our last web update for 2012. 
Search for your favorite marine species now. Enjoy and happy learning!

Leptoseris troglodyta n. sp., reef coral with no zoox

Symbiotic organisms, called zooxanthellae, or zoox for short, live in tissues of reef-building corals. Corals protect and provide zoox with compounds needed for photosynthesis while zoox provide food as byproduct of photosynthesis to corals for the formation of calcium carbonate skeleton that is the component on which coral reefs are built.

When corals lose their symbiotic zoox, they often become bleached, and in most cases, this leads to death. The loss of zoox is brought about by changes in the environment, such as changes in sea temperature, solar irradiance and sedimentation.

This relationship, however, is not exclusive to all reef-dwelling corals. A recently described agariciid coral, Leptoseris troglodyta n. sp. (Hoeksema, 2012) , found in ceilings and walls of marine caves at depths 5-35 m in the tropical Western Pacific (Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Palau and Guam) does not have zoox characteristic of shallow-water corals. The first of its kind, this coral is described as "azooxanthellate".

Read more about this species here.

Leptoseris troglodyta Hoeksema, 2012.


Hoeksema, B.W. 2012. Forever in the dark: the cave-dwelling azooxanthellate reef coral Leptoseris troglodyta sp. n. (Scleractinia, Agariciidae).  ZooKeys 228:21-37. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.228.3798

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29 November 2012

The honeycomb coral

Photo by Deng Palomares

This neat-looking coral is one of my personal favorites. Diploastrea heliopora is unique and very easy to identify with its cone-shaped corallites having small openings and thick walls. It is also the only species in the genus Diploastrea. Unfortunately this coral is listed by the IUCN to be "near threatened".

Do you see a lot of this coral in your area? Next time you go diving in the Indo-West Pacific, look-out for this massive beauty.

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28 November 2012

Sunfish seeks help from albatross

The sunfish Mola mola is the world’s largest oceanic bony fish, found in subtropical and tropical oceans. It spends most of its time feeding on jellyfish in deeper waters. When it surfaces, it’s either for thermal recharging or to seek help to eliminate parasites, e.g., from the albatross. The sunfish lies parallel to the water surface to allow the black-footed albatross Phoebastria immutabilis to feed on the copepod attached near the base of its dorsal fin. The copepod belongs to the genus Pennella, and one of the 40 ecto-parasites (écto’ from Late Greek ‘ekto’, meaning outside) identified to inhabit the sunfish’s skin.[1]

Learn more about these species from FishBase and SeaLifeBase.

[1] Abe, T., and K. Sekiguchi, 2012. Why does the ocean sunfish bask? Commun. Integr. Biol. 5(4): 395-398.

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24 November 2012

Crown-of-thorns seastars, where do they go after an outbreak?

Crown-of-thorns seastars (Acanthaster planci, COT) are coral-feeding echinoderms, natural inhabitants of Indo-Pacific tropical coral reefs. They are cryptic and normally not prominent on reefs. However, when they form aggregations of hundreds to hundreds of thousands of individuals, an outbreak occurs, which may lead to devastating effects on reef-building corals. An outbreak can wipe out a whole reef ecosystem.

Where do they go after an outbreak? Spicule evidence suggests that they die and disintegrate near reefs (Walbran et al., 1989). However, mass deaths have not been observed (Moran, 1988), until recently. In January 2012, a large aggregation of dead crown-of-thorns starfishes was observed on the sandy beach of Urasoko Bay, Ishigaki Island in southern Japan (Suzuki, et al., 2012). This report provides the first concrete evidence of this phenomenon after they have depleted food source, e.g., reef-building corals.

Photo taken from Suzuki et al. (2012)


Moran, P.J. 1988. The Acanthaster phenomenon. Australian Institute of Marine Science Monograph Series 7: 178 p.

Walbran, P.D., Henderson, R.A., Jull, A.J., Head, M.J. 1989 Evidence from sediments of long-term Acanthaster planci predation on corals of the Great Barrier Reef. Science 25:847–850.

Suzuki, G., Kai, S., Yamashita, H. 2012. Mass stranding of crown-of-thorns starfish. Coral Reefs. doi:  10.1007/s00338-012-0906-z.

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21 November 2012

FWC prohibits harvest of the giant Caribbean sea anemone


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) received reports of declining population of certain species. One of these is the giant Caribbean sea anemone Condylactis gigantea; a cold snap in 2010 killed off most reef-associated species. To compensate, as reported in ABC 7, they initiated a three year moratorium prohibiting the commercial and recreational harvest of the giant Caribbean sea anemone to allow the species to rebuild its population. They also added to draft a proposal about the future management of this species.

There were other changes and clarifications made by the FWC to marine life management. To learn more about these, click here.

Written by: 
Vina Angelica Parducho
Research Assistant
The SeaLifeBase Project

16 November 2012

How rare is rare? The discovery of the spade-toothed whale

Photo from Current Biology

In 1872, a partially damaged mandible (with teeth) of a beaked whale (Dolichodon layardii) was collected in Pitt Island, Chatham Islands, New Zealand.1 This specimen was later on determined to be the same species as the specimen identified as Mesoplodon ginkgodens collected in White Island, New Zealand in the 1950’s 2 and the specimen identified as Mesoplodon bahamondi collected in Robinson Crusoe Island, Juan Fernández Archipelago, Chile, in 19861. Genetic analyses determined that all three specimens belong to the species Mesoplodon traversii2. Little is known about the biology of this rare offshore species3, and the fact that there is no evidence of it being consumed as food confirms its rarity in the wild4. An adult female (17 feet) and a juvenile male (11.5 feet) were sighted on Opape Beach, North Island, New Zealand in December 2010, one of the rare observations made on this species.5

1van Helden, A.L.; Baker, A.N.; Dalebout, M.L.; Reyes, J.C.; van Waerebeek, K.; Baker, S.C. 2002. Resurrection of Mesoplodon traversii (Gray, 1874), senior synonym of M. bahamodi Reyes (van Waerebeek, Cárdenas and Yánez, 1995) (Cetacea Ziphiidae). Marine Mammal Science 18(3):609-621.
2 Baker, A.N.; van Helden, A.L. 1999. New records of beaked whale, Genus Mesoplodon, from New Zealand (Cetacea: Ziphiidae). Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 29(3):235–244.
3 France-Presse, A. 2012. Rarest whale spied in New Zealand. Cosmos: The Science of Everything http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/6139/rarest-whale-spied-new-zealand [Accessed 12 November 2012].
4 Robards, M.D.; Reeves, R.R. 2011. The global extent and character of marine mammal consumption by humans: 1970-2009.
5 Stromberg, J. 2012. The world’s rarest whale species spotted in New Zealand. Smithsonian Magazine http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2012/11/the-worlds-rarest-whale-species-spotted-in-new-zealand/ [Accessed 12 November 2012].

Written by:
Patricia S. Yap
Research Assistant
The SeaLifeBase Project

14 November 2012

We want you!

© Photos by SeaLifeBase photo collaborator David Harasti

Do you have photos of marine organisms? Be a photo collaborator and help us give "faces" to the world's marine organisms.

Your every photo will be properly credited to you through our collaborator pages. Professional photographers, divers, biologists and enthusiasts are most welcome to contribute their photos. We request that photos are properly identified up to species level. Underwater photos, aquarium photos and museum specimen photos are welcome. Only submit photos which you have taken or have permission to distribute.

Written  by:
Jeniffer Espedido
Research Assistant
The SeaLifeBase Project

12 November 2012

Forage Fish: Strive to Survive

Bryde's whale feeding. Source

Dolphins and whales are emblematic marine predators. As top predators, the survival of marine mammals is dependent on the conditions of their prey, for example, forage fishes that are rich in oil like sardines, anchovies, and sand lances. These fishes are also the target of important fisheries, that is, about 33 percent of marine fish landings worldwide are composed of forage fishes. Thus, ensuring the sustainable management of forage fishes will also benefit the marine mammal populations relying on them for survival.

To learn more about the status of forage fish species and how the Pacific Fishery Management Council took a stand to support this, click here.

Written  by:
Patricia S. Yap
Research Assistant
The SeaLifeBase Project

07 November 2012

Pokemon, Ben 10 alien, or another one of the world's beautiful creatures?


The nudibranch Glaucus atlanticus was a trending topic among biodiversity networks earlier this year when it was first sighted in Taiwanese waters [1] and referred to as a living pokemon. 

Glaucus atlanticus, commonly called the blue glaucus or blue sea slug, is the only species of its genus. Unlike its relatives, it floats upside down on the water’s surface! [2] Not your typical nudibranch, aye?

Learn more about this species from SeaLifeBase here.

Written by:
Vina Parducho
Research Assistant
The SeaLifeBase Project

06 November 2012

Marine Life Sanctuaries Society's (MLSS) Beach Interpretation Program

At one of the Marine Life Sanctuary Society's (MLSS) recent Beach Interpretation Programs in Porteau Cove, BC, a Big skate (Raja binoculata) was found washed up on shore.  Attendees were treated to an impromptu dissection of the skate by MLSS director, Dr. Chris Harvey-Clark, which proved very educational. MLSS was a key organization in the creation of the marine protected area in Whytcliffe Park in West Vancouver almost 20 years ago, which to this day remains one of the few no-take MPAs in Canada.  Their core mission is to create more similar such marine sanctuaries throughout BC through voluntary and community managed initiatives.  Their beach interpretation program strives to further these goals through increased awareness of marine ecosystems. For more information, please visit their website at www.mlssbc.com.

Written and contributed by:
Beau Doherty
Reseach Assistant
Sea Around Us Project
University of British Columbia

30 October 2012

The Mother-Calf Bond of Gray Whales

Photo by James Dorsey from Ocean Conservancy

 Populations of gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) are known only from the Northern Pacific and adjacent waters; they became extinct in the Northern Atlantic in the 1700’s. On a global scale, this whale is categorized as ‘of least concern’ by the IUCN Red List. However, the Western Pacific population is listed as Critically Endangered. They migrate up to 6,000 miles with their calves to feed. During migration, predator encounters are inevitable. Where a predator, like the killer whale (Orcinus orca), is present, the strong bond between mother and calf enables the pair to endure attacks (see this video documentation in Monterey Bay, California), a behavior rarely observed in the wild.

Written by:
Patricia Yap
Research Assistant
The SeaLifeBase Project

25 October 2012

Position Opening: Data Encoder [FILLED]

We are looking for a dynamic and determined person to join our team.

To know more about the position responsibilities and application procedure, click this image below:
Open to Philippine residents only.

24 October 2012

Fishing Down the Marine Food Web

A visual presentation  by Hans Hillewaert, 
as inspired by the work of Daniel Pauly.

The phrase "fishing down the food web" has been very popular in the fisheries industry since the late 1990's, but it is definitely far from being a cliché.

Introduced in this article by Pauly et al. (1998), this phrase simply mean that over time, traditional fisheries has exploited the stocks of large predatory fishes and has now moved on to smaller species, oftentimes farther or deeper in the ocean (sometimes both).

Pauly believes that with this continuing decline, it won't be long before people would start having jellyfish sandwiches. Yikes! Can you imagine yourself having jellyfish meals?

To learn more about this concept, visit www.fishingdown.org. It is recently launched by the Sea Around Us Project to present case studies from around the world that have largely been ignored in the objections to fishing down, and present a brief response to these objections which are largely based on misunderstandings and allegations.

Happy learning!

Written by:
Lealde Pacres-Urriquia
Research Assistant
The SeaLifeBase Project

18 October 2012

Announcement from FIN Executive Director Mary Ann Bimbao

On September 2012, SeaLifeBase Project Coordinator M.L. Deng Palomares accepted the position of Associate Scientific Director for the FishBase Information & Research Group, Inc.(FIN) which manages both FishBase and SeaLifeBase projects.
Deng joins Nicolas Bailly who was appointed as FIN's Scientific Director in January 2011, with the latter and the former to lead and manage FishBase and SeaLifeBase, respectively. Her appointment will balance the relationship and work between the two databases, whose programs will further be well coordinated for upcoming projects particularly directed towards an ecosystem approach.
Nicolas and Deng are on secondment arrangement from WorldFish and UBC Fisheries Centre, respectively.

15 October 2012

Moorish Idol

Mohammedans of Africa and Asia venerated this fish, probably due to its long sickle-form dorsal fin, and hence its name, Moorish idol [1].

Photo by Richard Field

Its Latin name, Zanclus cornutus, can be literally translated as ‘horned back’: Zanclus, from Greek agklino, i.e., ‘to be on one’s back’[2], and cornutus from Latin, i.e., horned[3].

The name Zanclus was applied to a person, the first king of Messina (Sicily), who gave his name to the town of Zancle[4]. Which makes Gill of Finding Nemo a venerated Sicilian crowned prince!

Ciao, Principe Gill!

[1] Robins, C.R., Bailey, R.M., Bond, C.E., Brooker, J.R., Lachner, E.A., Lea, R.N., Scott, W.B. 1991. World fishes important to North Americans. Exclusive of species from the continental waters of the United States and Canada. Am. Fish. Soc. Spec. Publ. (21):243 p.
[2] Romero, P., 2002. An etymological dictionary of taxonomy. Madrid, unpublished. See http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?ID=45335
[4] http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/3643.html.

Written by:
Maria Lourdes 'Deng' Palomares
Project Coordinator
The SeaLifeBase Project