Startle this Parapandulus shrimp, and it will spit a glowing cloud in your direction, illuminating you for predators to see.
To produce these van Gogh-like swirls, the shrimp vomits up chemicals that react together to produce light. This particular shrimp was photographed in the Bahamas, during an expedition in the Johnson-Sea-Link submersible near the sea floor. The mission? To poke sea creatures and see if they would glow.
Check out more bioluminescent animals at National Geographic News.
Shrimp photo via by Sönke Johnsen NOAA-OER/National Geographic News
Though the slogan “Save the Whales” has, these days, something of a sepia-toned sound to it, we aren’t doing a terribly good job of it, a new study suggests. In the last 40 years, the study says, humans were implicated in the majority of whale deaths with known causes. Read More
Fans of marine trivia may already know that a starfish is a messy eater. Instead of putting prey in their stomachs, many starfish species put their stomachs into their prey, throwing up this organ inside-out and letting its acidic juices break down the food into nutrient soup. Then the starfish slurps up its meal, sucks its stomach back in, and shuffles on its merry way.
Because starfish like to dine on bivalves like mussels, which hide away in an opaque shell, it can be pretty hard to watch a starfish in the act of eating. Unless you have this incredible time-lapse video from Shape of Life on Vimeo, which shows the process from the mussel’s meal’s point of view.
[via Deep Sea News]
Mutated shrimp from Al Jazeera’s video report
Al Jazeera‘s report on seafood in the Gulf Coast reads like a horror story: eyeless shrimp, fish with oozing sores, clawless crabs. Unfortunately these deformities are very real and disturbingly common two years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Chemical dispersants used by BP to “clean up” the oil spill are the likely cause.
Deformities happen even in ordinary circumstances, but scientists and fishers are seeing them in unprecedented scales in Gulf marine life. For example, half the shrimp caught in a Louisiana bay lacked eye sockets, according to fishers interviewed by journalist Dahr Jamail.
“Some shrimpers are catching these out in the open Gulf [of Mexico],” [commercial fisher Tracy Kuhn] added, “They are also catching them in Alabama and Mississippi. We are also finding eyeless crabs, crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don’t have their usual spikes … they look like they’ve been burned off by chemicals.
Perhaps the most troubling line in the whole article is this: “Questions raised by Al Jazeera’s investigation remain largely unanswered.” When Jamail went knocking on doors at government and corporate offices, nobody wanted to talk. One scientist he interviews mentions the difficulty in getting funds to study the oil spill’s environmental impact. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill may be rapidly fading in our memories, but its impact on the ocean is not.
Image via Al Jazeera English
Hints that squid can propel themselves through the air have tantalized scientists for some time. When marine biologist Ronald O’Dor kept Northern shortfin squid in his lab, he’d sometimes be greeted with dead squid lying on the floor around their pool. When Julie Stewart tracked Humboldt squid, she found that they were somehow getting places much faster than anyone thought. And when retired geologist Bob Hulse was vacationing on a cruise off the coast of Brazil, he actually caught it on camera: little 2½-inch orange-back squid soaring through the air.