Tiger Tail Sea Cucumbers are the largest sea cucumber in the Western Atlantic. They feed on algae and detritus. Juveniles often mimic sea slugs by crawling around on the bottom slowly filtering sand through their tentacles to gather food. Once older, they can spread their tentacles above them to capture plankton. A number of sea cucumbers feed nocturnally while others feed by day. Sea cucumbers often attract hitch-hikers like shrimps and crabs that crawl over their skin. As a means of defence sea cucumbers can expel their intestines or respiratory organs in the form of sticky threads, but these can quickly regenerate
“While the fish in this photo appears to be sitting there allowing me to take his photo it was quite the contrary. He came up at me from the sandy bottom with such intent and speed that I couldn't believe I managed to get him in the frame, let alone having him and is grumpy face in focus!” Picasso Triggerfish vocalizes using a "grunting" sound.
Some rockfish can live to be 100 years or older. Most Rockfish grow very slowly and don’t reproduce until they are at least 10 years old. Believe it or not, rockfish are aged accurately by analyzing the bones in their ears! Some species of rockfish are very territorial and may stay at a ‘home site’ for years. Rockfish often extend their dorsal spines and lean towards an approaching threat. If this defensive posture fails to discourage an approaching threat, most rockfish will then head for nearby cover. Rockfish have air bladders which allow them to float motionless in the water column. This helps them to sneak up on prey very quietly to strike.
Living up to about 30 years, leopard sharks can be found in shallow muddy waters, particularly Northern California. Often times they are preyed upon by larger sharks, like the Great White, but they themselves eat relatively small animals like worms, crabs, octopus, and fish. Branching off from a species of houndshark in the Triakidae family, adult leopard sharks can grow up to 6 feet long, but typically average at about 5 feet.
Seahorses use camouflage to avoid predators and sneakily attack their prey, which includes a variety of small crustaceans. These animals have eyes that move independently from one another which also helps them to track and ambush prey. They do not have teeth or stomachs, so they must eat almost constantly to survive.
Garden Eels live in colonies of up to 700 individuals and burrow in the sand of the ocean floor, using mucus from their bodies to prevent the sand around them from collapsing. These eels tend to stay in their individual burrows, rarely leaving to catch their prey, zooplankton, that floats by them.
Starfish can live for up to 35 years in the wild. They vary in size from one centimeter to 65 centimeters depending on the species. There are 1,600 species of starfish throughout oceans around the world and different species live in habitats including tidal pools, rocky shores, sea grass, kelp beds, and coral reefs.
These jellyfish have 8 arms that surround their mouths and help them find food. Their diet consists of zooplankton, algae, shrimp, and invertebrate eggs. Although this species of jellyfish is the most venomous, they are not harmful to humans.
Whale sharks are the world’s largest fish, reaching up to 40 feet and weighing an average of 20,000 pounds. These gentle giants can neither bite nor chew and are filter feeders. Their mouths contain hundreds of rows of tiny teeth and can open up to 4 feet wide.
Both Stingrays and Manta Rays have flat body shapes and wide pectoral fins. Unlike Stingrays, Manta Rays do not have a barb, or stinger, on their tails. Additionally, Stingrays live on the floors of the ocean while Manta Rays inhabit the open ocean. The mouths of Manta Rays are on the front edge of their bodies while mouths of Stingrays are on the undersides of their bodies.
Butterfly fish can reach up to 8 inches in length, but typically range from around 3 to 6 inches. These fish got their name because of their coloring. They can be black, orange, yellow, silver, red, and white and have different patterns on their bodies. Many species of Butterfly fish have black stripes and spots that serve to confuse and distract their predators. Butterfly fish have elongated noses that help them reach in cracks and crevices of rocks to eat.
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