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Shore Buddies webblog

Wisdom Wednesday | Sea Turtle Hatchlings

Photo of a sea turtle hatchling by Instagram user Cassie Jensen
The hatchlings do not have sex chromosomes so their gender is determined by the temperature within the nest. The temperature varies slightly among species, ranging between roughly 83-85 degrees Fahrenheit (28-29 degrees Celsius), at which embryos within a nest develop into a mix of males and females. Temperatures above this range produce females and colder temperatures produce males. It's estimated that only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood. Once near the surface, they will often remain there until the temperature of the sand cools, usually indicating nighttime, when they are less likely to be eaten by predators or overheat. Once out of the nest, hatchlings face many predators including ghost crabs, birds, raccoons, dogs, and fish.

Wisdom Wednesday | Grouper Fish

Image of a Red Coney Grouper by Instagram user Michael Patrick O'Neil
In addition to their possible great size, another defense that some groupers have is the ability to change the color of their skin to match their background.. Sometimes this color change is simple, such as turning from dark to light in order to blend in with varying levels of light. They swim slowly, but with power. They're not capable of fast breaks or swimming long distances, but anyone who's been on the other end of one on a deep sea fishing charter in Destin can tell you they have one heck of a dive pull. Some groupers are so huge that when they open their mouths to feed, they create a suction that is powerful enough to inhale small prey.

Wisdom Wednesday | Whale Sharks

Image of Whale Shark by Instagram user Amy Mercer
Whale sharks are filter feeders that eat plankton through their gills for much of their nourishment. They also eat squid, krill, and small fish. A whale shark can process more than 6,000 liters of water an hour through its gills. Whale sharks are in no way related to whales. Although they are sharks, they are very docile. A whale shark’s mouth is at the very front of its head—as opposed to the underside of the head like most sharks.

Wisdom Wednesday | The Dwarf Zebra Lionfish

image of Dwarf Zebra Lionfish by instagram user Danny Lee

The Dwarf Zebra Lionfish is easy to distinguish from the other lionfish species because of the enlarged pectoral fins. The fins are full and fan shaped and the fin membranes extend almost all the way to the end of the rays. They are usually found on sandy areas of reef flats ranging from between 3 meters to 25 meters in Tanzania but can be found down to 80 meters. Dwarf Lionfish feed at night and prey on small fishes and crustaceans and pretty much anything that fits in their mouth. They are ambush predators and move into positions where small fishes are likely to congregate. They use their proportionally large mouths to create a vacuum and suck in and swallow the prey. Being smaller than other Lionfish they go after smaller prey. They will sometimes use their pectoral fins to herd prey into a position where they can trap them. Little is known about their reproduction.

Wisdom Wednesday | The Weedy Sea Dragon

image of a Weedy Sea Dragon by instagram user Danny Lee
A Weedy Seadragon looks just like it sounds.. A mini sea dragon that would blend in with corals and seaweed very well! To avoid mouthfulls of sand when feeding, this animal will feed on its side and suck up tiny mycids! Compared to the leafy sea dragon, weedies have less flamboyant projections and are usually reddish in color with yellow spots. Weedy sea dragons have very long, thin snouts, slender trunks covered in bony rings, and thin tails which, unlike their seahorse cousins, cannot be used for gripping.

Wisdom Wednesday 08/26/20

Photo of a Manta Ray by Instagram user Jim Abernethy
Manta rays have approximately 300 rows of skin-covered teeth in its lower jaw. Their skeleton is composed of cartilage and not bone. Their tails lack skeletal support and are shorter than their disc-like bodies. Their tails also lack venomous tail spikes that all other rays have. Manta rays must swim continuously to keep oxygenated water passing over their gills. They can swim up to 24 kilometers (15 miles) per hour. Mantas visit cleaning stations on coral reefs for the removal of external parasites. The ray adopts a near-stationary position close to the coral surface for several minutes while the cleaner fish consume the attached organisms.

Wisdom Wednesday 08/19/20

Image of a giant clam by Instagram user Amy Mercer
Giant clams were first documented by an Italian explorer, as early as 1521. The largest known specimen of the giant clam, till date, was found in 1817, off the north-western coast of Sumatra. It was 4.49 ft. long, and its shells weighed 510 lbs. In 1956, another giant clam that was about 3.77 ft. long was found in Japan, with its shells weighing about 730 lbs. Because of its sessile nature, the moment the giant clam chooses a spot as its ‘home’, it fastens itself to the same, and then cannot go elsewhere for the rest of its life. 

Wisdom Wednesday 08/12/20

Image of Long Nosed Fur Seals by Instagram user @submerged_images
Fur Seals are named for their two-layered fur: an outer layer, and an undercoat that helps their skin stay dry underwater. Now protected, this species was hunted almost to extinction for the fur trade in earlier centuries. Fur seal has very thick, reddish brown, brownish gray or black fur. Females of some species have light-colored fur on the front side of the body. Fur seal has small ears, long, muscular front flippers and stocky body. Seals move swiftly and gracefully through the water using their powerful fore flipper and can be quite agile on land, walking on all four of their flippers. 

Wisdom Wednesday 08/05/20

Photo of a flying fish by Instagram user @jillma2sh21

Flying fish are marine oceanic fishes of the family Exocoetidae. They are about 50 species, and they live worldwide in warm waters. They are noted for their ability to glide. They are all small, with a maximum length of about 45 cm (18 inches), and have winglike, rigid fins and an unevenly forked tail.  From 1900 to the 1930s, flying fish were studied as possible models used to develop airplanes. There are at least 40 types flying fish and they can reach 37 MPH underwater. They do not fly actively: their fins do not flap. What they do is speed towards the surface and keep on going. 

Wisdom Wednesday 07/29/20

Image of a Sargassum Fish by Instagram user Michael Patrick O'Neill
The sargassum fish has an upturned mouth with an illium over the margin of the eyes. All frogfishes have a “lure” which is a fine antennae which stems from the top of the frogfishes head and dangles a bait-like looking appendage directly in front of the frogfish to attract prey. When frogfishes have prey in front of them they are incredibly fast to open their mouths and they suck in their prey whole, without chewing.

Wisdom Wednesday 07/22/20

Image of sea otters from Instagram user @jillma2sh21
Sea otters need to constantly fuel their little bodies to keep up with their constant energy output, and typically eat around a quarter of their weight in food on a daily basis. Humans generally eat between three and four pounds of food each day. If you weigh 140 pounds, that’d be like you eating around 34 pounds of food every day. 34 pounds is equal to somewhere around 74 of the average six-inch subs from Subway.

Wisdom Wednesday 07/15/20

Image of a male yellowhead jawfish holding eggs in his mouth from Instagram user Michael Patrick O'Neill
With this species, the male assumes all parental responsibilities and will incubate and protect hundreds of tiny eggs in his mouth for about 10 days until the babies hatch. To mix and aerate their eggs, males occasionally partially spit out and quickly suck clutches back in, a behavior known as churning. This extra special care results in more fry surviving the crucial first days of life.