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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