Creature Feature: Fairy Basslet

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Common Facts:

Scientific name: Gramma loreto

Diet: Small crustaceans, parasitic organisms found on larger fish, plankton

Size: Up to 3 inches

Range: Western Atlantic Ocean—Florida to northern South America and the Caribbean Sea

Despite their tiny size, Fairy basslets are hard to miss. With their bright purple and yellow bodies, it’s easy to spot these darting flashes of color. Fairy basslets are coral reef inhabitants and can generally be found under ledges or in caves.

“Fairy basslets are known to swim upside-down under ledges and along cave ceilings. They live in colonies and defend their territory from other species and even from other fairy basslets. Male fairy basslets guard and care for the eggs and the nest.”

Males find and establish nest sites before they participate in spawning activity. They find small crevices and holes in the reef and line them with algae, to cover the opening. Then, at dawn, female basslets will come to the nesting sites and deposit their eggs in a nest. After 10-11 days, the male’s guard duty is complete and the eggs hatch. “Then the larvae are believed to proceed to the planktonic stage until they are sufficiently heavy to resettle on the reef.”

Something interesting about Fairy basslets is that they are all born female, but can change sex to male. Males are more colorful than females and darken when they are ready to mate. Males also become a little bit larger than the females.

Fairy basslets are a beautiful and fun fish to observe! Take the time to admire them if you ever happen upon them.

Sources: http://www.fishlore.com/Profiles_Fairy_Basslet.htm

http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/152728/

http://www.aqua.org/explore/animals/fairy-basslet

Written by: Kari Shirley, intern

Creature Feature: Sunfish

 

Common Facts:

Diet – Jellyfish, small fish, zooplankton and algae

Size – Up to 14 feet

Weight – Up to 5,000 pounds

Habitat – Open Waters

Sunfish, also known as Mola, are one of the largest fishes to be found in the ocean. Out of all the bony fish, they are heaviest. The largest Sunfish have been known to reach 14 feet vertically and 10 feet horizontally and can weigh up to 5,000 pounds. Which is a little shocking for a fish that looks so much like a pancake.

“Sunfish, or mola, develop their truncated, bullet-like shape because the back fin which they are born with simply never grows. Instead, it folds into itself as the enormous creature matures, creating a rounded rudder called a clavus.” Their odd shape makes them awkward swimmers. They use their dorsal and anal fins to move and steer with their clavus.

Sunfish can be found in the warm and tropical oceans around the world. They love to rest just below the surface of the water, so that they can bask in the sun, hench the name Sunfish. Sometimes, when one of their big fins sticks up out of the water, people mistake them for sharks. But don’t be alarmed, Sunfish are not a threat to humans.

Oftentimes, Sunfish become infested with skin parasites. When this happens, they allow small fish and sometimes even birds to peck at their skin and get the parasites out.

Sunfish love to eat jellyfish, it is their main source of nutrients. Unfortunately, at times, they mistake plastic bags floating in the ocean as jellyfish, and have been known to choke on the bags. So be aware of your surroundings when you are at the beach! If you see trash, pick it up! You may be saving one of these beautiful, gentle creatures.

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Written by: Kari Shirley, intern

Sources: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/fishes/ocean-sunfish

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/mola/

Creature Feature: Giant (Black) Sea Bass

 

Common Facts:

Scientific Name – Stereolepis gigas

Habitat – Kelp forests and deep, rocky reefs

Conservation Status –  listed internationally as critically endangered and are protected in California

Geographic location – Northwest Pacific Ocean from Humboldt, California, to the Gulf of California

Diet – crustaceans, rays, skates, squid, bony fish species (anchovies, sheephead, sand dabs, flounder, croaker), and sometimes even kelp

The Giant Sea Bass definitely lives up to its name. Capable of growing to lengths of over 7 fe365px-Giant_sea_basset and weights of 800 pounds, these creatures are surprisingly docile. They have been know to swim near scuba divers to check them out.

Adults are typically a black or dark brown color and have dark spots and a lighter belly area. Their color pattern has been known to change though—to help them camouflage themselves as they hunt for food and to keep themselves from being hunted. Fortunately for the Giant Sea Bass, few sea animals are large enough to prey on them. Their main predators are Great White Sharks and humans.

Several decades ago, the Giant Sea Bass was flourishing in Southern California. “However, their slow growth and reproduction, coupled with a tendency to aggregate in large groups, made giant black sea bass susceptible to overfishing, which caused these fish to nearly disappear by the 1970s.” In the 80s, recreational and commercial California fisheries were closed, which has helped the Giant Sea Bass population to increase significantly.

It takes Giant Sea Bass a long time to reproduce, compared to other marine life, because they don’t reach sexual maturity until they are 10-13 years old. Young Giant Sea Bass fish are sometimes mistaken for a different fish, because they look so different from their parents. They have a red/orange body, with white and dark spots on their sides. The older they get, the darker they become.

The Giant Sea Bass is a truly remarkable, yet endangered, creature. So if you ever see one, be sure to snap a picture and let them go free!

Sources: http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/giant_sea_bass

Monterey Bay Aquarium: youtube and tumbler

http://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/nature/giant-black-seabass.htm

Written by: Kari Shirley, intern

Creature Feature: Garibaldi Fish

Common Facts:

Scientific Name – Hypsypops rubicundus

Diet – Sponges, coelenterates, bryozoa, worms

Size – up to 14 inches long

Habitat – Kelp forest

Range – Monterey Bay to southern Baja California

This bright red-orange fish was named after Giuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian general known to wear bright-red shirts. He was also known for his fight to reunify Italy and became a national hero for it. The name is fitting for the Garibaldi fish, also known for their fighting prowess.

The Garibaldi fish can be found from Baja California all the way to Monterey Bay, but they are much more common in the warmer waters of the south. They are California’s state marine fish and it is illegal to collect them without a permit.

The male Garibaldis are the ones that raise the family. All males choose a small territory to settle in (for the rest of their lives), keep it tidy, guard it from all other males and predators and try to attract females to come and lay eggs on their nest. Once they get a few females to lay eggs, the male fertilizes the eggs and guards them until they hatch.

So the next time you are near the California coastline, keep an eye out for these bright orange beauties. Just don’t go too close – they are known to bite anybody or anything that intrudes on their territory!

 

Sources: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/fishes/garibaldi

http://online.sfsu.edu/bholzman/courses/Fall02%20projects/garbaldi.htm

Written by: Kari Shirley, BYU intern

Stewardship Monday: What is Citizen Science?

Campers take data on debris collected near Chrissy Field.

Campers take data on debris collected near Chrissy Field.

Citizen Science is research that is conducted entirely, or in part by non-professional scientists, and is an increasingly important way that science is conducted. Anyone can be a scientist! Many research institutes and universities now take advantage of that fact and encourage citizens to contribute to data collection, analysis, and communicating important results.

There are many ways to become a citizen scientist based on your interests, skills, and the level of participation you hope to put in. Smart phone applications, such as iNaturalist and Litterati are ways that you can be a citizen scientist daily—simply take a picture and upload it to their maps, and you have contributed! Other programs require training or special skills, such as ReefCheck for SCUBA divers.

All of these programs have in common that they empower non-professional scientists to contribute to science that makes a difference. It is a great way to dive into a topic that you care about, to learn, and often, to protect.

Interns take fish data

Interns take fish data

At Marine Science Institute, our students and our volunteers are all citizen scientists. In particular, they contribute to our Fish Data Program, through which we have collected data on the fish in the San Francisco Bay for over 40 years. Through this program, volunteers can collect, analyze, and share our data—and have opportunities to learn more about marine science, and to become a part of the science community. Last Saturday, some of our citizen science volunteers shared their work at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Currents Symposium about citizen science.

You can join our fantastic corps of volunteers too! This is a wonderful opportunity for those who are interested in gaining valuable hands-on experience with data collection in the field, community service hours, or to acquire knowledge of the animals in the Bay. The opportunity to analyze the data is great for those interested in analysis, trends, and patters that emerge from long term observations. Click here to learn more about the program and to see some results!

Fall Programs and Upcoming Events

Join us for a sunset low tide walk on October 25th! Details below!

Line up of Fall Events

Afternoon Ecology

Fall 2014 Session

Sept 29 – Nov. 3
Mondays, 3:30pm – 5pm, Ages 6-11
Six 1.5 hour classes – cost is only $120 per student

Animals : Bay vs. Ocean

Marine Biology studies the life in salt water! This session, students will explore the many species of animals that rely on salt water environments, both from the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Comparisons will be made between estuarine and oceanic animals’ adaptations, habitats, and feeding strategies. Students will get the opportunity to handle live animals, including fish, invertebrates, and even a shark! They will also get a chance to use real scientific equipment to catch these animals and study the water in which these animals live. All these activities will have the students working in small groups using teamwork and draw pictures of their favorite animals in their log books each day.

Register Here for Fall Session!


Other Upcoming Events!

Canoe Paddle in Redwood Creek

Saturday, September 6     9:00am ~ 2:00pm
Saturday, September 27     9:00am ~ 2:00pm  PART 2 OF COAST WEEK SERIES

Coastal Clean Up Day at Gray Whale Cove

Saturday, September 20              9am~12pm        PART 1 OF COAST WEEK SERIES!

Shark Day

Saturday, October 4     10:00am ~ 12:00pm

Elkhorn Slough Safari by Pontoon Boat

Saturday, October 11       9am ~ 11:30pm

Sunset Low Tide Walk

Saturday, October 25     Time: 4:30pm~6:30pm

San Francisco SPECIAL Discovery Voyages

Saturday, November 22     Time: 1:00pm~3:00pm and 3:00pm~5:00pm

 

EVENTS REQUIRE ADVANCED REGISTRATION : REGISTER HERE 

Check out the current edition of BAYLINES our quarterly newsletter! Read, learn and join this summer of fun with Marine Science Institute!

Upcoming Events

Seashell Succulents

ABALONE SUCCULENT WORKSHOP!

Join EcoMonster for a summer succulent workshop to make your very own mini garden to take home. Beautiful succulent cuttings provided by Licorice Landscapes.
All supplies and materials will be provided:
-Abalone shells, recycled cups, mugs and other containers
-a HUGE variety of succulent cuttings and soil
-lots of fun trinkets to select from for your mini themed garden
You will take home one finished arrangement in an abalone shell at the end of the workshop.

When: Saturday, August 9          10:00am ~ 12:00pm

Where: Marine Science Institute (MSC)
500 Discovery Parkway
Redwood City, CA

Cost:
MSI Member cost is $25. Non-member price is $30. Space is limited, so RSVP now for a family eco-fun craft!

ADVANCED REGISTRATION REQUIRED: REGISTER HERE

Restrictions: Minimum age is 6 years old. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Other Upcoming Events!

SHARK DAY       

Saturday, August 16     10:00am ~ 12:00pm
Saturday, October 4     10:00am ~ 12:00pm

CANOE PADDLE IN REDWOOD CREEK   

Saturday, September 6     9:00am ~ 2:00pm
Saturday, September 27     9:00am ~ 2:00pm  PART 2 OF COAST WEEK SERIES

COASTAL CLEANUP DAY

Saturday, September 20              9am~12pm        PART 1 OF COAST WEEK SERIES!

ELKHORN SLOUGH SAFARI BY PONTOON BOAT
Saturday, October 11       9am ~ 11:30pm

SUNSET LOW TIDE WALK
Saturday, October 25     Time: 4:30pm~6:30pm

SAN FRANCISCO SPECIAL DISCOVERY ECOVOYAGES
Saturday, November 22     Time: 1:00pm~3:00pm and 3:00pm~5:00pm

EVENTS REQUIRE ADVANCED REGISTRATION : REGISTER HERE 

Check out the current edition of BAYLINES our quarterly newsletter! Read, learn and join this summer of fun with Marine Science Institute!

Desktop Calendar August

August’s Translating the Tides Winner!

CONGRATULATIONS CHELSEA!

Chelsea has won  a family membership to the Marine Science Institute, and Chelsea’s classroom’s has been awarded $100 to go towards another exciting program here at MSI!

Leopard Shark Scientific Diagram

Click on the image to save to your computer and than set it as desktop background

ENJOY!

Marine Science Institute is proud to present our winners for the Translating the Tides contest 2012-2013!

Every month we will showcase our winners artwork in the form of a beautiful desktop calendar!

Check back for monthly artwork!

Creature Feature: Dragonfish

dragonfish 2

 

Like most deep sea fish, the dragonfish, Grammatostomias flagellibarba, possesses bioluminescent or light-emitting photophores. These photophores are used for tracking mates, camouflage, and luring prey.  The scaleless dragonfish uses its barbel, a fleshy threadlike growth from its chin, to lure it’s unsuspecting prey.   It waves the barbel around until a crustacean or other small organism is close enough to snatch and eat.

SEFSC Pascagoula Laboratory; Collection of Brandi Noble, NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC

SEFSC Pascagoula Laboratory; Collection of Brandi Noble, NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC

Dragonfish have very large teeth and strong jaws to feed on their prey.  While they are successful hunters, they are still prey to other deep sea creatures. Most organisms in the deep sea generate light so the dragonfish’s stomach is lined with black coloring so their predators can not see them when they are digesting.  This is a clever adaptation that keeps the dragonfish’s food from giving away its location to predators like the viperfish!

Even though they strike a frightening pose with their long sharp teeth, there is no need to fear this creepy-looking fish. They live as deep as 5000 feet below the surface – not to mention they can only grow as much as 6 inches long.  That’s only a little bit longer than an iPhone!  There is not too much known about a lot of deep sea animals but scientists work every day to study and discover new and unique species in the deep sea.

 

 

References:

Edited by KC O’Shea

Photos: courtesy of  NOAA Digital Library

http://www.seasky.org/deep-sea/dragonfish.html

http://www.fishbase.org/summary/Grammatostomias-flagellibarba.html

http://deepseacreatures.org/creatures/dragonfish

Exciting Summer Events and Newsletter

Baylines Banner Summer 2014

SUMMER IS OFFICIALLY HERE!

 

Summer is finally here and MSI is excited to offer NEW EVENTS and the current edition of BAYLINES our quarterly newsletter! Read, learn and join this summer of fun with Marine Science Institute!

JUST ADDED TO OUR SUMMER LINE UP!

ABALONE SUCCULENT WORKSHOP!

Join EcoMonster for a summer succulent workshop to make your very own mini garden to take home. Beautiful succulent cuttings provided by Licorice Landscapes.
All supplies and materials will be provided:
-Abalone shells, recycled cups, mugs and other containers
-a HUGE variety of succulent cuttings and soil
-lots of fun trinkets to select from for your mini themed garden
You will take home one finished arrangement in an abalone shell at the end of the workshop.

When: Saturday, August 9          10:00am ~ 12:00pm

Where: Marine Science Institute (MSC)
500 Discovery Parkway
Redwood City, CA

Cost:
MSI Member cost is $25. Non-member price is $30. Space is limited, so RSVP now for a family eco-fun craft!

ADVANCED REGISTRATION REQUIRED: REGISTER HERE

Restrictions: Minimum age is 6 years old. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

 

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