Fact of the Day: The giant squid, or Architeuthis dux as it’s scientifically known, has a complex yet small donut-shaped brain. The squid’s oesophagus runs through the ‘donut-hole’ of the brain making it essential for food to be ground into small pieces by it’s notorious beak. Read more about this fascinating creature herewww.ocean.si.edu/giant-squid (Graphic via funnyjunk.com)
Tuna are members of the Scrombrid family, a group of fast swimming, partially warm-blooded apex predators, with highly streamlined bodies and retractable fins.
In the image above, the large dorsal fin, with its rigid bony rays, can disappear completely into a deep groove on the body.This gives the fish its distinctive bullet shape, as it charges forward in the water. The fin is pulled out when the fish is slowing down, or turning to keep its cylindrical body from rolling over.
The distinctive little fins, or finlets in the last image are only found in this group of fish. Muscles beneath the skin allows them to move independently. There’s a few people out there researching this, but at the current time their exact function is unknown.
The spotted handfish (Brachionichthys hirsutus), an amazing creature that walks the ocean floor, is a rare Australian fish from the family Brachionichthyidae. It is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List 2002. is the first Australian marine species to be threatened with extinction.
The greatest threats to the handfish appear to be siltation and invasive species. The Derwent Estuary where the fish lives is highly urbanised and industrialised, and a range of marine pests have been introduced through shipping. One key pest is the Northern Pacific Seastar (Asterias amurensis), a particularly large and voracious predator that is now abundant in the estuary. Studies by CSIRO show that the seastars eat the stalked ascidians that the handfish use to attach their eggs.
I recently had the opportunity to observe a porpoise necropsy.
This little guy was only a few days old when he was found stranded and separated from his mother, with his umbilical cord attached still. He wasn’t breathing properly and was euthanized.
Despite looking perfect, he was a mess on the inside. His lungs and bladder had filled with blood from severe repeated blows. Porpicide claims another victim.
Hair is trait common to all mammals. While I’ve always read that newborn cetaceans have hair, this was my first time seeing them. One either side of the snout (or rostrum) there is small, curly, whisker-like hair (called Rostral hair), that the babies lose after a few days.
A great debt of gratitude is owed to the marine mammal center for allowing me the opportunity to observe the necropsy on these animals.
Beetle is a captive male dolphin who was born on August 11th 2003. He started his life out at Seaworld Orlando. He was given to Mirage on a breeding loan, but has yet to make any calves. He spends his time in the back pool, and shows signs of pox.