Our Big Stories of 2017 have revisited the main themes of the past year and most have been about the serious issues effecting the ocean. So, let’s close our series on a lighter note and replay some of the most amazing, amusing and astounding marine life stories that we brought to you in 2017.
We celebrated the year’s holidays , starting in February with Fifty Shades of Blue, A Valentine, From the Deep. Where love is a many splendored thing especially for some of our underwater Casanovas with their romantic, some might say, bizarre if not downright kinky habits, that include sex change and even cannibalism. Like, the dueling flatworms each with two penises; the Blue Banded Goby that is king, then queen and then king again; and the Blue Octopus that after a mating frenzy, eat their mates. That’s what we call, working up an appetite.
Our Favorite Finned Fathers
For Father’s Day we brought Our Favorite Underwater Fathers singing the praises of all the unsung marine dads that do the heavy lifting. Did you know that male seahorses get pregnant and carry as many as 2,000 babies which they also fertilize while the female seahorses are out to pasture.
Papa frogs and toads carry tadpoles around in their mouths until they are old enough to survive on their own. Male arowanas protect their young in much the same way. Father Lumpsuckers are equally protective of their hatchlings, meeting any threats with a fierce display of aggressiveness.
Speaking of Whales!
In Narwhal News we explained what narwhals do with their mysterious tusks, which in fact is a tooth that can grow up to 10 feet long. Recent research shows that the whales use their tusk to rap fish, stunning their prey and making it easier to capture. But that is not the tusk’s only purpose, is it a super sensitive echolocator? Find out.
In A Whale of a Tale we explained the unexplained Humpback Hoe Downs. Mysterious and unusually large gatherings of humpback whales, thousands of miles away from their normal feeding grounds. Are these changes a result of climate change or a resurgence in whale population? Plus, find out why whales breach.
Cephalopods are Curiouser and Curiouser!
Some of my favorite marine creatures are the cephalopods and in 2017 we brought you stories of cuttlefish, octopus, giant squid and the nautilus. What is so intriguing about these creatures? Is it the tentacles, or the huge eyes with curious pupils, or the ability to change their flashy colors in a flash? And, they are some of the smartest creatures in the underwater world, more intelligent than dogs and cats. Well, the same may not be said for the nautilus.
There are 300 species of octopus and they can be huge like the Giant Pacific Octopus or miniature like the Blue Ringed octopus, that makes up for its diminutive size by being one of the world’s most venomous marine animals. The structure of their bodies, or lack of, allows them to squeeze through the smallest spaces and they are fast. They propel themselves by expelling water via a siphon, but they can also use their tentacles to walk or even run across the ocean floor, having been clocked at up to 40 kilometers an hour. To watch cuttlefish flash their flashy colors see: Cuttlefish Chameleons of the Sea.
The nautilus is an ancient cephalopod related to the octopus and cuttlefish, but the similarities are limited; the octopus and cuttlefish are relatively brilliant, the nautilus brain is small; its eyes are very primitive, having no lens and whereas the other cephalopods are very mobile and incredibly fast the nautilus is slow and awkward.
But unlike its cousins it has a shell and here the nautilus shines because the shell is a stunner, spiraling through nearly perfect, equiangular chambers, secreted with a pearl like lustre. Find out why the nautilus shell is its undoing.
We wrapped up our series on cephalopods by bringing you the story of a giant squid and we mean a really, big, giant squid.
In the British Virgin Islands lurks a Kraken, the legendary sea creature that was the stuff of nightmares for ancient seafarers.(artwork – Pierre Denys de Montfort, 1801)
They say this one is 8o feet long and has tentacles that entrap an entire sunken ship. All can be seen off Virgin Gorda, if you are brave, find out more here.
The Cutting Edge of Science, Can You Handle It???
This last year, we published a series of very important, articles detailing advances that are on the cutting edge of science. You may recall: Can Chocolate Covered Insects Save the World. Hopefully this food for thought got you thinking about the nutritional quality of insects (or maybe not) you know, crickets, ants and grubs, the crawly things that sometimes fly. We described how they eat caterpillars in South Africa and chapulines or fried grasshoppers in Mexico. Check out our article for some delicious recipes with our fuzzy, flying, friends.
How Old is Old?
In: How Long Can Animals Live? You’ll Be Surprised we discovered that they live a whole lot longer than any of us expected. We covered it all from lobster longevity; to Galapagos tortoises; to very old whales and sharks. Find out what is the oldest marine animal?
How Whale Poop Can Save the World!
Whale poop has many benefits that you might not have considered, who would. Whale poop moves nutrients from deeper water into shallower water where it feeds plankton and krill.
But can a whale of a poop save us from climate change? You need to know.
Do We have an Appetite to curb Invasive Species?
Last year we spent a lot of time talking about lionfish and the dangers to marine ecosystems that they present, especially in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. But it is not just lionfish, consider the invasion of Asian carp moving up the Mississippi River system and now threatening the Great Lakes. Sea Lampreys have been feasting on native perch for decades and zebra mussels have choked native shellfish.
So, can we eat ourselves out of the invasive species problem? An ecologist from the University of Vermont thinks we can and suggests that “invasivorism” is the answer. Find out here.
Awesome and a Bit Bazarre Marine Life Discoveries
We promised you amazing, amusing and astounding stories and we will even throw in the awesome: We are giving you the world’s largest fish; just discovered gigantic sea sponges: a “Ghost Octopus” found 2.6 miles deep underwater; and a purple “something” that has scientists scratching their heads. Find out about all of this awesome and bizarre marine life and more. (photo – Catalina Island Marine Institute)
Sharks, Sharks, and more Sharks!
We had old sharks and big sharks and even an event so “monumental that no one has ever attempted it before.” That would be the Discovery Channel’s race pitting Michael Phelps against a great white shark. In this contest for the ages, Phelps wore full body armor or at least a full body suit and fins and raced against a naked Great White Shark. Who won? See: Shark Week, Phelps vs Great White.and more sharks at: Shark-A-Thon: Latest News and Gossip on Sharks.
Bigger Jaws than Jaws!
For some “Really Big Jaws” we brought you Old fish, New Fish, All things Fish and for your reading pleasure we threw in some never-before-seen sea creatures plus Dugong Digs, Beluga Blues and the Wasted Wrass.
Sealing 2017 with a Friendly Seal Story!
To wrap up our swim down memory lane, we bring you a wonderful and playful interaction in: Friendly Seal and Scuba Diver Face Off. Keep checking our Home Page interaction throughout 2018 for more great stories from the underwater world with our finned friends.
To all of our readers, your Blue Ocean team hopes that you had a great 2017 and that an even better 2018 lies ahead.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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