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Florida manatees constitute the largest known group of West Indian manatees anywhere in the species’ range. Outside the United States, manatees occur in the Greater Antilles, on the east coast of Mexico and Central America, along the north and northeastern coast of South America, and in Trinidad.

In the southeastern United States, manatees occur primarily in Florida and southeastern Georgia, but individuals can range as far north as Chesapeake Bay or even Rhode Island on the Atlantic coast, and probably as far west as Texas on the Gulf coast. In summer, is now not uncommon to find manatees in coastal waters of Georgia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, and Louisiana.

Learn more at The TerraMar Project: http://theterramarproject.org/species/10/North+American+Manatee

#Nature #Wildlife #Manatees #Animals #Ocean #SeaCows
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Adult Yellow Tangs inhabit coral-rich areas of lagoon and seaward reefs from below the surge zone to about 46m and enthopelagic over rock at 1-81m. They occur singly or in loose groups and are mainly herbivorous, browsing on filamentous algae. Group spawning and pair-spawning by territorial males that court passing females were observed. Spawning activity occurs around the full moon indicating lunar periodicity and spawn in batches throughout the year. Presence of a venom gland could not be determined despite the presence of distinct anterolateral grooves; this may be due to the loss of venom glands in adults. A popular aquarium fish and the top marine fish export from Hawaii.

Learn more at The TerraMar Project: http://theterramarproject.org/species/21/Yellow+Tang

#Fish #nature #Wildlife #ocean #tropical

Photo: Fred Hsu/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)
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The Cockeyed Squid Survives the Twilight Zone Thanks to Mismatched Eyes

As its name implies, the cockeyed squid has some peculiar peepers: One is small and black, and the other is exceptionally large and yellow. Now, scientists think they know the reason for the squid’s wonky eyes: They help the squid spy on prey and predators in the ocean’s so-called twilight zone.

Learn more in The Daily Catch: http://theterramarproject.org/thedailycatch/cockeyed-squid-survives-twilight-zone-thanks-mismatched-eyes/

#Nature #Wildlife #Ocean #squid #animals


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The graceful manta ray is a stunning member of the devil ray family, if only for its sheer size. These large rays have a distinctive body shape with triangular pectoral 'wings' and paddle-like lobes extending in front of their mouths. They are generally dark on the upper surface, ranging from black to greyish-blue and brown, with pale undersides; individuals have a unique pattern of blotches and scars that can be used to identify them. The large, cavernous mouth is situated at the front of the body and contains 18 rows of teeth on the lower jaw.

To learn more about manta rays, check out The TerraMar Project: http://theterramarproject.org/species/20/Atlantic+Manta

Photo: Jackie Reid/NOAA FGBNMS

#Nature #Wildlife #ocean #MantaRays #Rays #GulfofMexico
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Humpback whales are among the best-studied cetaceans, yet they are still among the most mysterious. Among the mysteries are the reasons for their songs and the complex social behaviors that accompany them. These songs are intricate, with up to nine musical themes. Males may sing for days, changing themes over time, yet all the males from one population will sing the same song. Humpbacks are popular subjects for ecotourism and the whale-watching business. They are easily identified by enormous, wing-like flippers, which are far longer than in any other whale. They are known for spectacular displays at the surface. They breach, leaping headfirst out of the water; slap the surface with a long flipper; or slam the tail flukes repeatedly. Humpbacks may be the only whales to trap or herd prey into a bunch to make feeding more efficient. They concentrate a school of fish into a stack by blowing columns of bubbles to form a circle around it, and then lunge into the mass to feed. Although endangered, humpback whale populations are making a good comeback.

Learn more about humpback whales at The TerraMar Project: http://theterramarproject.org/species/8/Humpback+Whale

Photo: Dr. Brandon Southall, NMFS/OPR

#Whales #Ocean #Nature #Wildlife #EndangeredSpecies
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The Christmas Tree Worm is aptly named, both its common and Latin names refer to the two chromatically hued spiral structures, the most common feature seen by divers. The multicolored spirals are highly derived structures for feeding and respiration.

Spirobranchus Gianteius Peniez is similar to most tube-building polychaetes. It has a tubular, segmented body lined with chaeta, small appendages that aid the worm's mobility. Because it does not move outside its tube, this worm does not have any specialized appendages for movement or swimming.

The worms' most distinct features are two "crowns" shaped like Christmas trees. These are highly modified prostomial palps, which are specialized mouth appendages. Each spiral is composed of feather-like tentacles called radioles, which are heavily ciliated and cause any prey trapped in them to be transported to the worm's mouth. While they are primarily feeding structures, S. giganteus also uses its radioles for respiration; hence, the structures commonly are called "gills."

Photo: James Guttoso/NOAA Photo Library/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
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As is often the case in species where males compete to mate with as many females as possible, northern elephant seal males are much larger than females (1,800 kg versus 650 kg on average). Competitions can be battles, but more often involve mock threats and loud vocalizations. The dominant (alpha) male gets to mate with the most females, maximizing the number of offspring he produces. Fasting is part of their life cycle: males stay on the beach and fast for up to three months during the breeding season, while they are guarding a harem. Females stay on shore with their pups and fast for about a month while they are nursing. Afterward, males and females spend 8-10 mostly solitary months at sea. Males often migrate along a northern route and the females remain farther south. They may travel as far as Japan and log more than 20,000 km annually, spending much of their time underwater foraging for squid and fish. Dives can be as deep as 1,500 m and last as long as two hours, but the seals typically stay submerged for about 18-25 minutes and forage at depths of 350-650 m.

Learn more at The TerraMar Project: http://theterramarproject.org/species/22/Northern+Elephant+Seal

#Nature #Wildlife #Ocean #Animals
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The whale shark is the largest fish in the world; with its vast size it resembles the whales from which its common name is derived. The head is flattened and the wide mouth, positioned at the tip of the snout, stretches almost as wide as the body. The dorsal fin is particularly large and the tail has a half-moon shape. The patterning of the body is very distinctive with its dark greyish-blue colour on the back and sides, and array of pale yellow blotches; the undersurface is pale. Stout ridges travel the length of the body, ending at the tail shaft. Five massive gill slits occur on the side of the head and within these there is a sieve like structure of cartilage. Curiously, the mouth contains around 300 tiny teeth although the function of these is unknown.

Become a whale shark ambassador at The TerraMar Project: http://theterramarproject.org/species/29/Whale+Shark

#Nature #Wildlife #Sharks #Fish #Ocean
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Jellyfish (Tiburonia granrojo) - a new species described by MBARI and JAMSTEC researchers. This species grows up to 1 meter in diameter. California, Davidson Seamount. May 18, 2002.

Credit: NOAA/Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

#Jellyfish #Ocean #Nature #Wildlife #Sea
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The convict tang or convict surgeonfish (Acanthurus triostegus) is a small surgeonfish in family Acanthuridae of the order Perciformes. It is typically about 10 cm (3.9 in) long, but some individuals may grow larger than 20 cm.

Photo: Claire Fackler/CINMS/NOAA

#Nature #Ocean #fish #wildlife #sea
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