Posts Tagged 'jellyfish'



30 fascinating fish facts

2011 marks the National Aquarium’s 30th anniversary year—a year that will honor the Aquarium’s successful past and highlight its future as a leader in global conservation and aquatic health. Turning 30 also gives us an excuse to celebrate, have fun, and create this list of 30 fascinating fish facts for your cerebral pleasure!

1. Fish are cold-blooded, which means their internal body temperature changes as the surrounding temperature changes.

2. About 96% of fish are bony fish. The rest are cartilaginous fish, like sharks, skates, and rays.

Electric eel

Electric eel

3. Electric eels can discharge up to 550 volts, using their shock as an offense for catching food or a defense to escape.

4. Only the front 1/5 of an electric eel contains vital organs. These are located directly behind its head. The rest of the body is comprised of organs that produce electricity.

5. Arowana have the ability to jump out of the water to catch prey such as insects, birds, and bats.

6. More species of fish are found in the Amazon River than in all of Europe.

7. Gar are known as “living fossils,” as their remains have been found dating back to the Cretaceous period.

8. The female seahorse transfers the eggs to the male’s pouch, where they are incubated until birth.

Red lionfish

Red lionfish

9. Red lionfish are beautiful in the aquarium, but potentially devastating to the Atlantic Ocean, as the first successfully invasive species.

10. The northern snakehead has the ability to gulp air and absorb oxygen through a modified swim bladder that functions much like a lung. This ability allows the snakehead to travel across land to move into new bodies of water.

11. Piranhas hunt in large groups called shoals, or packs.

12. The largest fish in the world is the whale shark, which can grow up to 41 feet long.

13. Baby sharks are called pups.

14. The sand tiger shark is the only shark known to adjust its buoyancy by burping—gulping and expelling air at the surface. This strategy allows the shark to hover nearly motionless in the water column.

Seven-spot archerfish

Seven-spot archerfish

15. The archerfish is named for its peculiar adaptation of shooting a stream of water like an arrow at its unsuspecting prey—a tasty insect perched on a branch above the water.

16. The male banggai cardinalfish incubates the eggs in his mouth and continues to hold the young within his mouth cavity after hatching to further protect them.

17. Feather blennies lay their eggs in empty oyster shells. These territorial predators use their strong jaws to snap up and eat small fish and crustaceans that venture too close to the oyster shells.

18. The green moray eel is really brown! The yellow tint of the mucus that covers its body, in combination with the drab background color, gives the fish its characteristic uniform green color.

19. Southern stingrays have a “live birth,” meaning that the eggs hatch within the mother’s body. The pups, up to 10 in a litter, average 9 inches across at birth. Before their live birth, stingrays’ “wings” are curled up like crepes.

20. Burrfish are covered with short, heavy spines that are always erect, unlike their cousins the porcupinefish, which have movable spines.

Porcupine fish

Porcupine fish

21. When feeling threatened, pufferfish quickly ingest water to inflate their bodies into a ball several times their normal size.

22. Flounders and sole are fish with both eyes on the same side of their head. One eye actually migrates to the other side during larval development. Like most flatfishes, these bottom-dwellers can change the color patterns on their skin to blend in with their environment. They bury themselves in the sand and, with both eyes facing up, wait to ambush unsuspecting prey.

23. Jellies have been around for more than 500 million years—they pre-date dinosaurs!

24. The lined seahorse is the only seahorse found in the Chesapeake Bay. It camouflages itself by developing leafy appendages and changing colors.

Clownfish

Clownfish

25. In a group of clownfish, there is a strict dominance hierarchy. The largest and most aggressive female is found at the top.

26. Clownfish and sea anemones have a symbiotic relationship. The sea anemone protects the clownfish from predators, as well as providing food through the scraps left from the anemone’s meals. In return, the clownfish defends the anemone from its predators and cleans it from parasites.

27. Some catfish create saucer-shaped nests by fanning the river or lake bottom with their tails. Several thousand eggs are deposited in the nest and are guarded until they hatch.

28. The toothless catfish is not really toothless. It has teeth in the back of its mouth. This bottom-feeder vacuums through the sand to find its food.

29. The Australia grunter fish is so named because it emits an audible grunting sound when handled out of the water.

Barramundi

Barramundi

30. Barramundi, a giant perch found in Australia, changes sex as it grows up, starting as a male. Upon reaching 19.7 inches in length, it become female. These fish can grow to up to 6.5 feet long!

What’s behind the sting?

This weekend marks the start official start of beach season! Every year around this time we start to hear more about jellies because people see them while visiting beaches and swimming in oceans. But unfortunately, the interactions we tend to have with jellies in the ocean are not very pleasant ones.

Recently, a young girl from Australia was the chatter among medical experts around the world for her amazing recovery from a “deadly” jellyfish sting. We all know that jellies have the power to inflict pain to us humans, and have heard that some jellies can even be deadly.  So is her survival of a box jelly sting a miracle?

Box jellies are not a part of the Jellies Invasion exhibit, so our experts don’t have to deal with them on a daily basis. But when asked, Aquarist Vicky Poole said, “As this is a creature with one of the most toxic venoms in the world, I’d say it was a miracle.”

The odds of surviving a severe box jelly envenomation is extremely rare. Box jelly stings have a 20% mortality rate, which includes both severe and mild cases, but the extent of the sting, covering her entire leg, is what makes her survival such a surprise for her doctors.

So what’s behind the sting? Jellies are animals without brains (or hearts, for that matter), so there is no “decision” about stinging. They indiscriminately will sting anything they happen to bump into – prey (for food) or predator (for defense). Vicky reminds us that it’s really their survival strategy…sting first and ask no questions later!

What happens when a jelly stings? Their tentacles have tiny microscopic stinging cells called “nematocysts” that look like fishing harpoons with barbs that penetrate our skin, and then stay in place while the venom is injected into the body of the victim. There is often pain at the site, and usually you’ll notice localized swelling or welts due to the skin’s reaction to the toxins. Depending on the species of jelly, the body’s reaction will vary in severity, and some people have a more severe reaction than others. In extremely toxic species, severe reactions may involve difficulty breathing, coma, or even death.

Let’s bust some myths – can anything really treat a sting? Although weak acids (like vinegar) and very hot water have been reportedly used to neutralize jelly stings, your body will still react to the venom in your system so pain management is needed. And if you’re in areas where dangerous species of jellies exist, Vicki suggests that you seek medical attention immediately. After all, she’s no doctor, just a humble jelly aquarist!

Even though these brainless, heartless creatures instill fear among beach-goers around the world, they are truly fascinating creatures that are an important part of our marine ecosystem. This summer before you hit the beach, we invite you learn more about jellies. You can start by exploring the Jellies Invasion: Oceans Out of Balance website!

Have you had your jelly fix?

We’ve partnered with Dunkin Donuts so you can See Jelly, and Eat Jelly! It’s one sweet deal. Check it out:

Jellies, jellies everywhere

If you have been to the beach or out on a boat recently you have probably encountered a jelly or two, perhaps even more. This is the time of year that jellies are most prevalent in the mid-atlantic region. So why do we see so many of them during the summer??

Jellies are found in most bodies of water, including the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay, and even in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. In fact, some Aquarium employees saw a bunch of comb jellies in the harbor earlier this morning.  In this region, most jellies are seasonal. The greatest variety of jellies are found in the lower bay, in the coastal bays and, offshore in the Atlantic Ocean were salinities are higher. Some of the more common species include:jelly on beach small

  • Moon Jellies, (pictured to the right) found in the Lower Bay and Atlantic Ocean. In the summer months the remains of moon jellies can often be found washed up on the beaches, but they rarely sting people.
  • Atlantic Sea Nettles, found in the middle and lower bay and seen in late spring, summer and early fall and the most likely to sting you. They sting thousands of beach-goers each season!
  • Comb Jellies, found throughout the bay and ocean year-round but most commonly seen in the warmer months. Comb jellies do not have the ability to sting.
  • Lion’s Mane Jellies, found in the bay from late November through May, also known as the winter jelly and also deliver a powerful sting.

Continue reading ‘Jellies, jellies everywhere’

Jellies make for interesting art

Jack Cover, the Aquarium’s general curator of fishes and rainforest exhibits, refers to jellies as living  lava lamps. Many exhibits around the country show jellies as living art.  Visitors see them as majestic and mesmerizing. When visiting our new Jellies Invasion exhibit, one local reporter referred to them as being “other-wordly.”

jellyfish1_1414867c

There seems be a new form of jellies artwork…a 600 ft crop circle in a jelly pattern that recently appeared in a barley field in UK! It’s gaining a lot of media and tourist attention as one of the most intriguing crop circles ever seen in Britain. Click here to read more about this amazing form of art.

Have you seen any cool jellies artwork?


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