Category: UNDERWATER FACTS


Underwater Fact 153

Despite its name the ‘Common Skate’ is nowadays extremely rare.

Common SkateCommon Skate   © Oceana.org

Skates are found in most parts of the world, from the shallow waters on the coast to depths of 2700 metres. They are flattened fish that look very similar to their well-known relatives: the rays.
The major difference between rays and skates is their reproductive strategy. Rays are live bearing (viviparous) while skates are egg-laying (oviparous).

The Common Skate or Blue Skate (Dipturus batis) is the largest skate in the world attaining a length of more than 250cm.
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Underwater Fact 152

The Veined Octopus or Coconut Octopus is the only invertebrate known to use tools, and one of only two octopuses known to exhibit bipedal behaviour by “walking” on two of its legs.

Coconut octopus in Lembeh   © Marco Carnovale

Originally discovered in 1964, Amphioctopus marginatus lives in the tropical waters of the western Pacific Ocean.
The species is commonly known as Veined Octopus, named after the distinct dark brown lines that branch over the mantle and down the arms of the animal. The edges of their arms are often darkened in contrast to the white-blue suckers.

Coconut Octopus   © franklin tom

Another common name for these molluscs is Coconut Octopus, which relates to a very peculiar and interesting behaviour of the species: it carries coconut shells and clam shells across the ocean floor and uses them to build fortresses.

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Underwater Fact 151

Spiny Gurnards feature large colourful fins and venomous spines that help searching for food.

Eastern Spiny GuarnardEastern Spiny Gurnard   © Klaus Stiefel

Gurnards, also called Sea Robins, are recognised by their beautiful large pectoral fins which they flap like wings, opening and closing them while swimming. This colourful display is mainly intended to distract predators.
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Underwater Fact 150

Lionfish are venomous, not poisonous – there is a difference.

Pterois640Lionfish   © Sophia Volzke

Although both venomous and poisonous animals produce a toxin that can be harmful to other organisms, the method of delivery is different. Venomous organisms use a specific apparatus like spines or teeth to inject their toxin. Poisonous organisms, on the other hand, require their victim to ingest or absorb the toxin.

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Underwater Fact 149

The tusks of a Walrus can reach up to 1 metre in length.

Pacific Walrus   © Jason Everett

Walruses are distinguished by their long white tusks, grizzly looking whiskers and large bodies which are filled with blubber. Their habitat around the Arctic Circle requires special equipment for survival.

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Underwater Fact 148

Innovative technology allows researchers to learn more about the fascinating world of Emperor Penguins.

Brooding emperor penguin with its chick approached by a rover…   © Nature Methods

Investigating wild animals has always been a challenge to researchers. Especially when dealing with shy animals like penguins. When humans approach, Emperor Penguins normally back away and their heart rate goes up. That’s not what the scientists need when they want to check heart rate, health and other penguin parameters.
Consequently, a group of international scientists have created a remote control rover disguised as a chick to snuggle up to penguins in Adelie Land, Antarctica – the same place where the 2005 documentary March of the Penguins, was filmed.

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Underwater Fact 147

One look at a vampire squid, and you’d think it was the product of a cheesy horror/sci-fi movie. Vampyroteuthis infernalis (meaning “vampire squid from hell”) is the sole living member in the Order Vampyromorphida, and shares characteristics of both octopuses (Order Octopoda) and squids (Order Teuthida).

Vampire Squid   © National Geographic

This species first appeared around 300 million years ago and has changed very little since then, making it a living fossil that may represent an ancestral line between octopuses and squids.
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Underwater Fact 146

Octopuses have the largest brains of any invertebrate.

Common Octopus   © ARKive

The fact that these creatures, whose ancestors diverged from the lineage that would lead to ours roughly 500 to 700 million years ago, have developed intelligence, emotions, and individual personalities is challenging our understanding of consciousness itself.

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Underwater Fact 145

Cownose Rays are known to take on long migrations in schools of thousands of individuals, moving northwards in late Spring and southwards in late Autumn. It is believed that this migration is initiated by the orientation of the sun and by water temperature.

 01-Cownose Rays migration, Gulf of MexicoCownose Rays migration, Gulf of Mexico   © Sandra Critelli

Cownose Rays can be recognised by their unusual bi-lobed head. Under the snout are two large fleshy lobes. These are often mistaken as the entrance to the mouth. The mouth however, is on the underside the fish.

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Underwater Fact 144

Unlike most other whales, the beluga has a flexible neck that enables it to turn its head in all directions.

BelugaWhalesBeluga Whale   © Clifton Hill

Belugas are also called white whales, and their unusual colour makes them one of the most familiar and easily distinguishable of all the whales. Calves are born grey or even brown and only fade to white as they become sexually mature around five years of age.

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