How do Dolphins Behave?

“Dolphins are often regarded as one of Earth’s most intelligent animals, though it is hard to say just how intelligent. Comparing species’ relative intelligence is complicated by differences in sensory apparatus, response modes, and nature of cognition. Furthermore, the difficulty and expense of experimental work with large aquatic animals has so far prevented some tests and limited sample size and rigor in others. Compared to many other species, however, dolphin behavior has been studied extensively, both in captivity and in the wild.

Dolphins surfing at Snapper Rocks, Queensland, Australia

Dolphins are highly social animals, often living in pods of up to a dozen individuals, though pod sizes and structures vary greatly between species and locations. In places with a high abundance of food, pods can merge temporarily, forming a superpod; such groupings may exceed 1,000 dolphins. Membership in pods is not rigid; interchange is common. Dolphins can, however, establish strong social bonds; they will stay with injured or ill individuals, even helping them to breathe by bringing them to the surface if needed. This altruism does not appear to be limited to their own species. The dolphin Moko in New Zealand has been observed guiding a female Pygmy Sperm Whaletogether with her calf out of shallow water where they had stranded several times. They have also been seen protecting swimmers from sharks by swimming circles around the swimmers or charging the sharks to make them go away.

Dolphins communicate using a variety of clicks, whistle-like sounds and other vocalizations. Dolphins also use nonverbal communication by means of touch and posturing.

Dolphins also display culture, something long believed to be unique to humans (and possibly other primate species). In May 2005, a discovery in Australia found Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) teaching their young to use tools. They cover their snoutswith sponges to protect them while foraging. This knowledge is mostly transferred by mothers to daughters, unlike simian primates, where knowledge is generally passed on to both sexes. Using sponges as mouth protection is a learned behavior. Another learned behavior was discovered among river dolphins in Brazil, where some male dolphins use weeds and sticks as part of a sexual display.

Forms of care-giving between fellows and even for members of different species (see Moko (dolphin)) are recorded in various species – such as trying to save weakened fellows or female pilot whales holding up dead calves for long periods.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolphin#Taxonomy_and_distribution

What are the Threats that Beluga whales Suffer?

” The beluga whale or white whale (Delphinapterus leucas) is an Arctic and sub-Arctic cetacean. It is one of two members of the family Monodontidae, along with the narwhal, and the only member of the genus Delphinapterus. This marine mammal is commonly referred to as the beluga, melonhead, or sea canary due to its high-pitched twitter.

It is adapted to life in the Arctic, so has anatomical and physiological characteristics that differentiate it from other cetaceans. Amongst these are its all-white colour and the absence of a dorsal fin. It possesses a distinctive protuberance at the front of its head which houses an echolocation organ called the melon, which in this species is large and deformable. The beluga’s body size is between that of a dolphin’s and a true whale’s, with males growing up to 5.5 m (18 ft) long and weighing up to 1,600 kg (3,530 lb). This whale has a stocky body. A large percentage of its weight is blubber, as is true of many cetaceans. Its sense of hearing is highly developed and its echolocation allows it to move about and find blowholes under sheet ice.

Hunting

Commercial whaling by European and American whalers during the 18th and 19th centuries decreased beluga populations in the Canadian Arctic. The animals were hunted for their meat and blubber, while the Europeans used the oil from the melon as a lubricant for clocks, machinery, and lighting in lighthouses. Mineral oil replaced whale oil in the 1860s, but the hunting of these animals continued unabated. In 1863, the cured skin could be used to make horse harnesses, machine belts for saw mills, and shoelaces. These manufactured items ensured the hunting of belugas continued for the rest of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Between 1868 and 1911, Scottish and American whalers killed more than 20,000 belugas in Lancaster Sound and Davis Strait.

Predation

Killer whales are able to capture both young and adult belugas. They live in all the seas of the world and share the same habitat as belugas in the sub-Arctic region. Attacks on belugas by killer whales have been reported in the waters of Greenland, Russia, Canada, and Alaska.[125][126] A number of killings have been recorded in Cook Inlet, and experts are concerned the predation by killer whales will impede the recovery of this subpopulation, which has already been badly depleted by hunting.[125] The killer whales arrive at the beginning of August, but the belugas are occasionally able to hear their presence and evade them. The groups near to or under the sea ice have a degree of protection, as the killer whale’s large dorsal fin, up to 2 m in length, impedes their movement under the ice and does not allow them to get sufficiently close to the breathing holes in the ice.

Pathogens

Papillomaviruses have been found in the stomachs of belugas in the Saint Lawrence River. Animals in this location have also been recorded as suffering infections caused by herpesviruses and in certain cases to be suffering from encephalitis caused by the protozoan Sarcocystis. Cases have been recorded of ciliate protozoa colonising the spiracle of certain individuals, but they not thought to be pathogens or at least they are not very harmful.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beluga_whale#Threats

What are Sea Urchins?

“Sea urchins or urchins (/ˈɜːrɪnz/), archaically called sea hedgehogs, are small, spiny, globular animals that, with their close kin, such as sand dollars, constitute the class Echinoidea of the echinoderm phylum. About 950 species of echinoids inhabit all oceans from the intertidal to 5,000 meters (16,000 ft; 2,700 fathoms) deep. The shell, or “test”, of sea urchins, is round and spiny, typically from 3 to 10 cm (1.2 to 3.9 in) across. Common colors include black and dull shades of green, olive, brown, purple, blue, and red. Sea urchins move slowly, feeding primarily on algae. Sea otters, starfish, wolf eels, triggerfish, and other predators hunt and feed on sea urchins. The name “urchin” is an old word for hedgehog, which sea urchins resemble.

Sea urchins are members of the phylum Echinodermata, which also includes sea stars, sea cucumbers, brittle stars, and crinoids. Like other echinoderms, they have five-fold symmetry (called pentamerism) and move by means of hundreds of tiny, transparent, adhesive “tube feet”. The symmetry is not obvious in the living animal but is easily visible in the dried test.

Specifically, the term “sea urchin” refers to the “regular echinoids”, which are symmetrical and globular, and includes several different taxonomic groups, including two subclasses : Euechinoidea (“modern” sea urchins, including irregular ones) and Cidaroidea or “slate-pencil urchins”, which have very thick, blunt spines, with algae and sponges growing on it. The irregular sea urchins are an infra-class inside the Euechinoidea, called Irregularia, and include Atelostomata and Neognathostomata. “Irregular” echinoids include flattened sand dollars, sea biscuits, and heart urchins.

Together with sea cucumbers (Holothuroidea), they make up the subphylum Echinozoa, which is characterized by a globoid shape without arms or projecting rays. Sea cucumbers and the irregular echinoids have secondarily evolved diverse shapes. Although many sea cucumbers have branched tentacles surrounding their oral openings, these have originated from modified tube feet and are not homologous to the arms of the crinoids, sea stars, and brittle stars.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_urchin

 

What is Scuba Diving?

” Scuba diving is a form of underwater diving where the diver uses a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba) which is completely independent of surface supply, to breathe underwater. Scuba divers carry their own source of breathing gas, usually compressed air, allowing them greater independence and freedom of movement than surface-supplied divers, and longer underwater endurance than breath-hold divers. Open circuit scuba systems discharge the breathing gas into the environment as it is exhaled, and consist of one or more diving cylinders containing breathing gas at high pressure which is supplied to the diver through a regulator. They may include additional cylinders for decompression gas or emergency breathing gas. Closed-circuit or semi-closed circuit rebreather scuba systems allow recycling of exhaled gases. The volume of gas used is reduced compared to that of open circuit; therefore, a smaller cylinder or cylinders, may be used for an equivalent dive duration. Rebreathers extend the time spent underwater compared to open circuit for the same gas consumption, they produce fewer bubbles and less noise than scuba which makes them attractive to covert military divers to avoid detection, scientific divers to avoid disturbing marine animals, and media divers to avoid bubble interference.

Scuba diving may be done recreationally or professionally in a number of applications, including scientific, military and public safety roles, but most commercial diving uses surface-supplied diving equipment when this is practicable. Scuba divers engaged in armed forces covert operations may be referred to as frogmen, combat divers or attack swimmers.

A scuba diver primarily moves underwater by using fins attached to the feet, but external propulsion can be provided by a diver propulsion vehicle, or a sled pulled from the surface. Other equipment includes a mask to improve underwater vision, exposure protection, equipment to control buoyancy, and equipment related to the specific circumstances and purpose of the dive. Scuba divers are trained in the procedures and skills appropriate to their level of certification by instructors affiliated to the diver certification organisations which issue these certifications. These include standard operating procedures for using the equipment and dealing with the general hazards of the underwater environment, and emergency procedures for self-help and assistance of a similarly equipped diver experiencing problems. A minimum level of fitness and health is required by most training organizations, but a higher level of fitness may be appropriate for some applications.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scuba_diving

What are Coral Reefs?

“Coral reefs are diverse underwater ecosystems held together by calcium carbonate structures secreted by corals. Coral reefs are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine water that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps belong to a group of animals known as Cnidaria, which also includes sea anemones and jellyfish. Unlike sea anemones, corals secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons which support and protect the coral polyps. Most reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny and agitated water.

Often called “rainforests of the sea”, shallow coral reefs form some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. They occupy less than 0.1% of the world’s ocean surface, about half the area of France, yet they provide a home for at least 25% of all marine species, including fish, mollusks, worms, crustaceans, echinoderms, sponges, tunicates and other cnidarians. Paradoxically, coral reefs flourish even though they are surrounded by ocean waters that provide few nutrients. They are most commonly found at shallow depths in tropical waters, but deep water and cold water corals also exist on smaller scales in other areas.

Coral reefs deliver ecosystem services to tourism, fisheries and shoreline protection. The annual global economic value of coral reefs is estimated between US$30–375 billion. However, coral reefs are fragile ecosystems, partly because they are very sensitive to water temperature. They are under threat from climate change, oceanic acidification, blast fishing, cyanide fishing for aquarium fish, sunscreen use, overuse of reef resources, and harmful land-use practices, including urban and agricultural runoff and water pollution, which can harm reefs by encouraging excess algal growth.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coral_reef

 

What are Parrotfish?

” Parrotfishes are a group of about 95 species traditionally regarded as a family (Scaridae), but now often considered a subfamily (Scarinae) of the wrasses. They are found in relatively shallow tropical and subtropical oceans throughout the world, displaying their largest species richness in the Indo-Pacific. They are found in coral reefs, rocky coasts, and seagrass beds, and play a significant role in bioerosion.

Parrotfish are named for their dentition, which is distinct from other fishes, including other labrids. Their numerous teeth are arranged in a tightly packed mosaic on the external surface of their jaw bones, forming a parrot-like beak with which they rasp algae from coral and other rocky substrates (which contributes to the process of bioerosion).

Maximum sizes vary within the family, with the majority of species reaching 30–50 cm (12–20 in) in length. However, a few species reach lengths in excess of 1 m (3 ft 3 in), and the green humphead parrotfish can reach up to 1.3 m (4 ft 3 in). The smallest species is the blue lip parrotfish (Cryptotomus roseus), which only reaches 13 cm (5.1 in).” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parrotfish

What are Horseshoe Crabs?

” Horseshoe crabs are marine arthropods of the family Limulidae and order Xiphosura or Xiphosurida. They are invertebrates, meaning that they lack a spine. Horseshoe crabs live primarily in and around shallow ocean waters on soft sandy or muddy bottoms. They occasionally come onto shore to mate. They are commonly used as bait and in fertilizer. In recent years, population declines have occurred as a consequence of coastal habitat destruction in Japan and overharvesting along the east coast of North America. Tetrodotoxin may be present in the role of species inhabiting the waters of Thailand.

Because of their origin 450 million years ago, horseshoe crabs are considered living fossils. The entire body of the horseshoe crab is protected by a hard carapace. It has two compound lateral eyes, each composed of about 1,000 ommatidia, plus a pair of median eyes that are able to detect both visible light and ultraviolet light, a single endoparietal eye, and a pair of rudimentary lateral eyes on the top. The latter become functional just before the embryo hatches. Also, a pair of ventral eyes is located near the mouth, as well as a cluster of photoreceptors on the telson. The horseshoe crab has five additional eyes on top of its shell. Despite having relatively poor eyesight, the animals have the largest rods and cones of any known animal, about 100 times the size of humans’, and their eyes are a million times more sensitive to light at night than during the day. The mouth is located in the center of the legs, whose bases are referred to as gnathobases and have the same function as jaws and help grind up food. The horseshoe crab has five pairs of legs for walking, swimming, and moving food into the mouth, each with a claw at the tip, except for the last pair.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseshoe_crab

What are Manta Rays?

” Manta rays are large rays belonging to the genus Manta. The larger species, M. birostris, reaches 7 m (23 ft 0 in) in width while the smaller, M. alfredi, reaches 5.5 m (18 ft 1 in). Both have triangular pectoral fins, horn-shaped cephalic fins, and large, forward-facing mouths. They are classified among the Myliobatiformes (stingrays and relatives) and are placed in the family Myliobatidae (eagle rays).

Mantas are found in warm temperate, subtropical and tropical waters. Both species are pelagic; M. birostris migrates across open oceans, singly or in groups, while M. alfredi tends to be resident and coastal. They are filter feeders and eat large quantities of zooplankton, which they swallow with their open mouths as they swim. Gestation lasts over a year and mantas give birth to live pups. Mantas may visit cleaning stations for the removal of parasites. Like whales, they breach, for unknown reasons.

Both species are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Anthropogenic threats include pollution, entanglement in fishing nets, and direct harvesting for their gill rakers for use in Chinese medicine. Their slow reproductive rate exacerbates these threats. They are protected in international waters by the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals but are more vulnerable closer to shore. Areas, where mantas congregate, are popular with tourists. Only a few public aquariums are large enough to house them.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manta_ray

What are Betta Fish?

” Betta /ˈbɛtə/ is a large genus of small, often colorful, freshwater ray-finned fishes in the gourami family (Osphronemidae). By far the best known Betta species, however, is B. splendens, commonly known as the Siamese fighting fish. All the Betta species are small fishes, but they vary considerably in size, ranging from under 2.5 cm (1 in) total length in B. chanoides to 12.5 cm (5 in) in the Akar betta (B. akarensis).

Bettas are anabantoids, which means they can breathe atmospheric air using a unique organ called the labyrinth. This accounts for their ability to thrive in low-oxygen water conditions that would kill most other fish, such as rice paddies, slow-moving streams, drainage ditches, and large puddles.

The bettas exhibit two kinds spawning behavior: some build bubble nests, such as B. splendens, while others are mouthbrooders, such as B. picta. The mouthbrooding species are sometimes called “pseudo bettas”, and are sometimes speculated to have evolved from the nest-builders in an adaptation to their fast-moving stream habitats.

A phylogenetic study published in 2004 concluded tentatively that bubble-nesting was the ancestral condition in Betta, and that mouthbrooding has evolved on more than one occasion in the history of the genus. However it was unable to establish a correlation with any of three habitat variables studied: whether a species was found in lowland or highland streams, whether it was found in peat swamp forests, and whether it was found in water with fast or slow currents. Mouthbrooding species tend to exhibit less sexual dimorphism, perhaps because they do not need to defend a territory as the bubble-nesters do. ” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betta

What is The Whale Shark?

” The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is a slow-moving filter-feeding carpet shark and the largest known extant fish species. The largest confirmed individual had a length of 12.65 m (41.5 ft) and a weight of about 21.5 t (47,000 lb). The whale shark holds many records for sheer size in the animal kingdom, most notably being by far the largest living nonmammalian vertebrate. It is the sole member of the genus Rhincodon and the only extant member of the family Rhincodontidae (called Rhiniodon and Rhinodontidae before 1984), which belongs to the subclass Elasmobranchii in the class Chondrichthyes. The species originated about 60 million years ago.

The whale shark is found in open waters of the tropical oceans and is rarely found in the water below 22 °C (72 °F). Modeling suggests a lifespan of about 70 years, but measurements have proven difficult. Whale sharks have very large mouths and are filter feeders, which is a feeding mode that occurs in only two other sharks, the megamouth shark, and the basking shark. They feed almost exclusively on plankton and are not known to pose a threat to humans.

The species was distinguished in April 1828 after the harpooning of a 4.6 m (15 ft) specimen in Table Bay, South Africa. Andrew Smith, a military doctor associated with British troops stationed in Cape Town, described it the following year. The name “whale shark” directly refers to the fish’s size, being as large as some species of whales and also that it is a filter feeder like baleen whales.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whale_shark

What is The Lion Fish?

” Pterois is a genus of venomous marine fish, commonly known as lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific. Also alled zebrafish, firefish, turkeyfish or butterfly-cod, it is characterized by conspicuous warning coloration with red, white, creamy, or black bands, showy pectoral fins, and venomous spiky fin rays. Pterois radiataPterois volitans, and Pterois miles are the most commonly studied species in the genus. Pterois species are popular aquarium fish. P. volitans and P. miles are a recent and significant invasive species in the western Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea.

There are currently 12 recognized species in this genus:

  • Pterois Andover G. R. Allen & Erdmann, 2008 (Andover lionfish)
  • Pterois antennata (Bloch, 1787) (Spot-fin lionfish)
  • Pterois brevipectoralis (Mandritsa, 2002)
  • Pterois cincta Rüppell, 1838 (Red Sea lionfish)
  • Pterois lunulata Temminck & Schlegel, 1843 (Luna lionfish)
  • Pterois miles (J. W. Bennett, 1828) (Devil firefish)
  • Pterois mombasae (J. L. B. Smith, 1957) (Frill-fin turkeyfish)
  • Pterois paucispinula Matsunuma & Motomura, 2014
  • Pterois radiata G. Cuvier, 1829 (Clear-fin lionfish)
  • Pterois russelii E. T. Bennett, 1831 (Soldier lionfish)
  • Pterois sphex D. S. Jordan & Evermann, 1903 (Hawaiian turkeyfish)
  • Pterois volitans (Linnaeus, 1758) (Red lionfish)” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pterois