|The Atlantic Flounder is considered a flat fish (mostly because it is flat) when it is considered at all. But that is in fact a large part of the problem. People rarely do consider the Atlantic Flounder?when they are planning. Even the littlest events. Planning a birthday party . . . do they ask the flounder? No. Planning to move to Idaho . . . no one asked the Flounder. Bush planned a full scale invasion of another country . . . was the Flounder consulted? I don’t think so.
This is really the problem with our country today. No one cares . . . no one asks . . . no one considers. War, disease, famine, pestilence, plague . . . Why, oh why won’t anyone consider the damn flounder
Flounder have some truly amazing adaptations that allow them to prey on other fish. First their bodies are completely flat. Rather than having to find something to hide behind, they lay camouflaged on the ocean floor, waiting for prey to swim by. They are even capable of changing colors to match different color bottoms.
Laying flat on the bottom would be difficult for most fish. One of their eyeballs would be crammed into the sand. But the flounder has gotten around this little problem. Although when the flounder is young, it swims upright and has one eye on each side of its head, just like any fish. But as it grows up, one eye actually migrates slowly to the other side of its head. So when it is lying on its side in the sand, both of its eyes are looking up!
The Periwinkle snail does many things that we don’t. For example, it lives on blades of grass. We don’t. We are far too large to cling to a single blade of grass. Even if we are careful about our diet. Believe me, I have tried. They also eat phytoplankton off of the stems of these blades of grass. We do not. Believe me I have tried. (See above under “Careful about our diet.”) And, of course, they have tongues with teeth on them. Though we have both tongues and teeth, it is a very bad idea to try to combine the two. Believe me, I have tried.
But the main thing that Periwinkle Snails do that we do not is . . . get eaten by Blue Crabs. In droves. If we regularly got eaten by Blue Crabs, I would first be very surprised. Because they are really far to small to eat a human. But secondly, I would wonder why no one was working to eradicate these fierce predators. I mean really, a glut of Blue Crab related deaths, and no one doing a thing to stop them? What is the world coming to??
The Marsh Periwinkle is not from ‘round here. It emigrated to America on the hulls of steamers around 1900. And it has proved to be a hardy little snail that has some incredible adaptations for surviving in a new and ever-changing world. It lives its whole life clinging to flimsy salt marsh grasses. It is an air-breathing snail, so when the tide comes in, it climbs to the tip of the grass to escape the rising water. If it falls in, or if the water climbs too high, it will drown.
When the tide goes out again, the Marsh Periwinkle will climb down and begin to feed on the algae the water deposited on the grass stems. This small snail has an amazing way of feeding. It has a tongue with teeth on it, called a Radula. The radula has up to 300 rows of teeth on it which the snail grinds back and forth across the grass stem, scraping the algae away and feeding on it. This constant grinding wears the teeth away at the rate of 5-6 rows a day. But much like shark teeth; the teeth are continually replaced. Oddly the Marsh Periwinkle is only seen in the during warm weather. Where they go when the weather cools is a mystery.
Contrary to popular belief, Spider Crabs to do not as a rule build webs. One reason for this is that they are not spiders. They are crabs. So they are, in fact, utterly incapable of building even the most rudimentary of webs. This is, however, not the only reason they do not build webs. The other, and arguably more important reason that they do not build webs is that they just plain don’t like them.
If you don’t believe this, just try a few simple experiments. Begin by catching several spider crabs. Be sure to have one extra crab as a proper scientific control. You wouldn’t want anyone to dispute your research because you didn’t follow scientific protocol. Now, take one crab out of the water, and menace it with a spider web. How does it react. Poorly, I’d wager. Then, take another out and attempt to cram some spider webs down it’s throat. What does it do? I’ll bet it tries to get away. So, there it is. Scientic proof that Spider Crabs are, infact, mortally afraid of spider webs. Ironic, isn’t it.
The Spider Crab was given its name because it walks around slowly on ten spindly stilt legs, making it look more like an arachnid than a sea creature. This species ranges in size from North Carolina’s Common Spider Crab at 4 inches to Japan’s Giant Spider Crab at 12 feet. And its main adaptation for survival only adds to its strange public image.
It gets its nickname, “Decorator Crab,” from its most important defense, keeping up appearances. Since the Spider Crab can’t swim or move quickly, it has to have some sort of camouflage. So as this little crab wanders along the bottom of the salt marsh, it keeps an eye out for attractive odds and ends. It uses its claws to clip off a bit of a sponge here, some seaweed there. Then it carefully licks them (with a special gluey mucus) and sticks them to its head. Not only does this carefully planned bunch of flotsam and jetsam look great, it acts as camouflage as the crab wanders among the seaweeds and sponges. And the crab is even forced to keep its look current, as each year it will molt its outer shell, and start the process of reinventing its image all over again.
Historically, Pipe Fish have never been used as a food fish. Not once . . . ever. This may seem like a overly certain statement for all of history, but as these fish are about the size, shape and consistancy of a pencil, I think it has a good chance of being true.
This is not to say that Pipe Fishes don’t have their uses. They are great for pointing out things on a chalkboard, if you have lost your laser pointer. I found that out just last week. They would also be great for use as a baton, if a conductor ever lost his, and was in a pinch. I don’t know that that has ever happened. But it could. And of course, if a Pipe Fish was feeling unusually helpful, which is rare for Pipe Fish . . . they could hold a small piece of cotton and help you clean small enclosed spaces, like your ears or in between the keys on your typewriter. Of course each one of these activities would likely kill the pipe fish. And as a general rule, Pipe fish are not altruistic enough to make such a noble sacrifice. 1002
Pipefish are the straight-laced cousins of the Sea Horse, and share many of their bizarre adaptations. They wear their highly-modified skeletons on the outside, in the form of tough armor plating. They are well-camouflaged to hide in eel-grass beds, and wait for their prey. When tiny animals float by, they can vacuum them up into their tubular snouts from as much as an inch away. They need their camouflage for protection as well. and Though they have long tails, their armor keeps them from the flexible movement needed for forward propulsion. They can only move forward by paddling their tiny pectoral fins.
Male and female pipefish are monogamous and stay close together throughout their lives. They are also great helpmates. The female pipefish creates the eggs, but after the male fertilizes them, she hands over for the duration. The eggs will be incubated in a brood pouch beneath the male’s tail for approximately two weeks. When they hatch, tiny but fully formed, they must survive unaided until they grow up and find a helpmate of their own.
The average Fiddler Crab is very small. Not like the one on this page. If I sawa a Fiddler Crab this size, I would be very surprised. And perhaps a bit afraid. Not that I am afraid of Fiddler Crabs in general. Because I’m not. I assure you. Its just that that little dance they do is kinda creepy. Especially when they all do it at once. En masse. Masses of them.
What if they are not just dancing, but communicating with each other. Their PLAN. To take over the world . . . They could do it. They may be small, but there sure seem to be alot of them. And what if they have already evolved, and are now the size of the one on this picture? Not that I have ever seen anything like that. But they could be hiding underground. Creepy little vermin . . . 753
Though the fiddler crab is renowned for its one incredibly large claw, only the male fiddler crab boasts this attribute. Female fiddlers have two small claws. The male’s large claw has one very important purpose, to tempt female fiddler crabs. During courtship, the male crab waves its claw in an enticing manner hoping to lure a female fiddler into its burrow. When many male fiddlers display this behavior in unison, it reminds onlookers of fiddlers playing in a symphony.
Sadly the male’s large claw is useless for most other tasks, including defense and feeding. Though the fiddler’s claw may help it look menacing to predators, it is actually too weak to use as a weapon. And it is so large that the male is unable to use it to bring food to its mouth. Fiddlers eat by using their claws to pick up mud and put it in their mouths. Their complex mouth parts separate algae from mud, then consume the tiny plants and spit out the rest.
Blue Crabs are mean. They are really the meanest of all the crabs. Ask anyone who works with various species of crabs and they will tell you. They’re mean. They are also tasty. This is not, I would guess, because they are mean. But in fact, has nothing to do with it. Absolutely nothing. Let me be clear . . . that they are tasty has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that they are mean. And anyone who says different is looking for a fight. And I am not kidding. I will hurt you. And your little dog Toto, too. Or any other domesticated pet you might or might not have.
This has nothing to do with the fact that I have lost my marbles. Absolutely nothing. Let me be clear . . . I lost them years ago, and I have always secretly believed that they may have been stolen. Anyone who says different . . . 810
Blue crabs are in fact olive-green over most of their body. They get their name from the blue coloration on their legs and the insides of their large front claws. Blue crabs have five pairs of legs, as do all true crabs. The front legs are modified into strong pincers that are used to tear food. The next three pairs are walking legs. The last pair of legs have adapted into paddle-like structures used for swimming. These “swimmerets” make the blue crab a fast and able predator.
The blue crab has a hard outer shell that protects it from predators. But in order for the blue crab to grow larger, it must shed this hard outer casing. In order to do this, the crab actually grows a new shell under the old one. It then sheds the old shell, and in fact, the old gills. The new shell (and its new gills) are soft and pliable, and will take a couple of days to harden. The smallest crabs shed every three to five days, juvenile crabs every 10 to 14 days and those 3 inches and larger every 20 to 50 days.
Hermit Crabs are cool too. But they are very shy. The mostly live alone in their little teeny-tiny shells. Sometimes they might have a small amoeba or something living in there with them. But it is rare. Because they are hermits. Some of the more social ones might invite friends over. Or let their small amoeba roommates invite friends over. But that is unusual.
Sometimes when hermit crabs get really lonely, they will invite their friends over for a party. Then, they will crawl out of their shells, and all cram into a friends shell. This behavior is call a Hermit Crab Jam, and is rarely seen in the Northern Hemisphere. 627
The hermit crab has some amazingly unusual adaptations. Despite the fact that the rear half of a hermit crab’s body is soft and vulnerable, it is incapable of making a protective shell. Instead it borrows the shells of other snail-like animals that have died. And as the hermit crab grows, it must find ever larger homes to move into. On occasion, hermit crabs will even kill the animal that created the shell in order to have that “perfect” fit.
Hermit crabs are so unusual scientists don’t consider them “true crabs.” All crabs have 5 sets of legs, but in the hermit crab, two of those sets are much smaller. Hermit crabs have one set of pincers and two sets of walking legs that are hardened and stick out of their borrowed home. The other two sets of legs are soft and tiny, and are used to anchor the animal inside the shell. Despite their diminutive size, these legs are so strong that if you try to pull a hermit crab out of its shell, its body will be pulled apart before its legs will let go.
Sea Squirts are often mistaken for poo by the average observer. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, they are far more closely related to man than various invertebrates that look much more like man. A squid for example. Not that I look like a squid. But, you know, the around the eyes, a little maybe. Not my eyes, I just mean that squid have eyes, whereas Sea Squirts don’t. And men do. You know what I mean.
Additionally, squid have tentacles. Sea Squirts don’t. And men don’t either. Squid have ink sacs. Men and Sea Squirts don’t. Squid have gills. Men and Sea Squirts don’t. Squid have beaks. Men and Sea Squirts don’t. Birds do, though. That’s always good to keep in mind. For a full laundry list of things that Squid have that men and Sea Squirts don’t, for god’s sake, go to the library, and stop bothering me. 838
Sea squirts get their name from their strange defensive habit of squirting out a stream of water if they are disturbed. This may seem like a bizarre form of protection, but water is all the ammunition they’ve got. Sea squirts are filter feeders. This means they suck in water, filter the food out of it, and then spit it out again. They can process a bathtub’s worth of water every 24 hours.
Even more bizarrely, though sea squirts look like lumpy plants, they are animals. They have blood, hearts and brains. And to top it off, they have a notochord (a rudimentary backbone) which makes them vertebrates, and very closely related to humans! They use their notochords as a sort of tail to help them swim around for a few hours looking for a good place to settle down. When they find a nice spot, they will attach their heads, and reabsorb the tail they will no longer need.
The Great Blue Heron is a nice bird. I really like them. Sometimes I think I am a Great Blue Heron. Herons eat food. All sorts of food. Sometimes if they don’t get food, they die. That is sad. Once, I saw a Great Blue Heron. It was great. And blue. And it was, without question, a heron. When I saw it, I said to myself . . . hey look at that Great Blue Heron. Then, I called my friend and said, “Hey! I saw a Great Blue Heron.” And my friend said, “How nice.” And I thought . . . Wow, that was really profound. Great Blue Herons are nice. And great. And Blue.
The Great Blue Heron is the largest of all the herons. It stands 4 feet tall, and has a wingspan of seven feet! The neck of the Blue Heron is amazingly long, and curves in an S-shape. This is possible because they have 15 to 17 vertebrae in their neck (compared to seven vertebrae in man and most other mammals – including giraffes!)
Despite their size, they hunt by stalking their prey. They stand like giant statues at the edge of the water looking for their prey under the surface. When they see their prey, they dart out with lightning speed and actually spear their prey on their sharp beak. They then swallow their prey whole, even if they catch large fish.
The Glass Shrimp is not really made of glass. If it were it would probably break during even very basic body movements. And even the comparatively tranquil waters of the sound would easily shatter their smaller appendages. And that doesn’t even begin to speak to problems their predators would face. Just think of the glass shards lodged in between little fishy teeth. The cuts on little fishy tongues. The gashes on little fishy fingers. Wait, they don’t have fingers. Well, you get my point.
Anyway, what I am trying to say is that a food source entirely made of glass is probably not a good idea. Unless we as humans decided to protect the predators of the Glass
Shrimp by grinding each shrimp up into a sandy substance and then making it into a paste. But that would be awfully labor intensive. 887
“Arthropods typically have bilaterally symmetrical bodies divided into segments; each segment can bear at least one pair of appendages. These appendages were originally designed for walking, but every group has modified at least some of them for specialized uses: antenna for sensing, mouthparts for feeding, claws and pincers for food gathering or defense, gills for breathing, paddles for swimming, spines and stingers for protection, spinnerets for web building,
Stone Crabs have really big claws. Rumor has it that they can break a coke bottle with their claws. Considering this, one wouldassume that it could also break one of your fingers. Even so, the Aquarium here in town has put Stone Crabs in their touch tank. I would like to suggest that there is some sort of evil at work here. Some mad scientist, or aquarist, who is perhaps missing a finger, and thinking he would up his social standing if he were one of a majority of people who are missing a finger.
Just think. He could be the leader of the “9 Fingered” Party. He could champion the cause of the “Finger-Challenged” He would be the ultimate inspiration for the finger-impaired ! Hey . . . It could happen. Never say “never”. .. NEVER! – 747
The Stone Crab’s two large claws are different in size, shape and function. One is larger and has a blunt edge and is used to hold and crush food. They use this large claw to crack open the half inch thick shells of their prey. The other claw is smaller and has a saw-edge used to rip and tear off pieces of their prey when they feed.
If a stone crab loses one of its claws, it is actually able to regenerate it. The process takes many months. In order for a crab to grow, it must molt its outer shell, or exoskeleton. It will have a new larger shell underneath which will be soft at first and will harden within a couple of days. If a crab has lost its claw, it will grow a new one under its hard shell. It will be small at first, and grow larger with each molting until it reaches the right size. This is an important adaptation as stone crabs can live 8 to 10 years.