Giant, rare "sea serpent" dragged to shore in California

Jasmine Santana of the Catalina Island Marine Institute was snorkeling off the coast about 20 miles southwest of L.A. when she spotted an 18-foot-long oarfish. It was dead. From the AP:

"We've never seen a fish this big," said Mark Waddington, senior captain of the Tole Mour, CIMI's sail training ship. "The last oarfish we saw was three feet long."

Because oarfish dive more than 3,000 feet deep, sightings of the creatures are rare and they are largely unstudied, according to CIMI…

The carcass was on display Tuesday for 5th, 6th, and 7th grade students studying at CIMI. It will be buried in the sand until it decomposes and then its skeleton will be reconstituted for display, Waddington said.

"18-foot-long sea creature found off Calif. coast" Read the rest

Scientifically accurate "Finding Nemo"

In which Nemo's mother dies, his father switches sex, and Nemo grows up into a male in order to mate with his now-female living parent. It's the ciiiiirrrrrcle of liiiiffffe! Read the rest

Herring Wars: Attack of the Faroe Islands

Herring travel in schools billions of fish strong and, thanks the outsized role they've played in North American and European culture, they've been called the most influential fish in history. Now, threatened first by overfishing and then by the effects of climate change, international organizations have worked to set treaty limits on how many tons of the fish different countries can catch each year. The problem: The limits are more randomly applied, rather than being based on rigorous standards or rules. Now, some countries are voicing their displeasure by resisting the limits, altogether. Begun, these Herring Wars have. Read the rest

Iceland resumes whale hunting, endangered Fin Whale killed

"Kristjan Loftsson, CEO of the the company Hvalur hf." Photo: News of Iceland.

Icelandic news outlets are reporting that an Icelandic whaling company, Hvalur hf, "caught its first fin whale yesterday evening," after sailing out yesterday with two boats, both due back in port today.

Fin whales are the second-largest whale, and are classified as an Endangered species.

From News of Iceland: Read the rest

Scientists sequence the coelacanth genome

The coelacanth is one of a small handful of living fishes that are probably closely related much more ancient, extinct creatures — including, the first fish to haul itself up onto land. Now scientists have sequenced its genes and are digging through the data in search of genetic clues to how fish and land-dwelling animals are connected to one another. Among the finds so far, a gene that seems to be connected to how animals grow placentas. Coelacanths don't have placentas, but they do have eggs that hatch inside their own bodies. Read the rest

The fish with clear blood

Ocellated icefish live deep underwater in the cold oceans surrounding the Poles. They have clear blood. If you remember your childhood biology classes, you should remember that this kind of makes no sense. After all, blood is red because of hemoglobin — the iron-rich protein that carries oxygen around in your blood stream. No hemoglobin, no oxygen. No oxygen, dead fishies. Right? Popular Science explains how ocellated icefish get around this little conundrum. Read the rest

The fish of nightmares

This is not a Photoshop job. This is the very real toothy smile of sheepshead fish. It lives in North America, writes Becky Crew at the Running Ponies blog. And, like humans, it has both incisors and molars — perfect for masticating an omnivorous diet. Apparently, they also taste good, which should be some consolation. Worse comes to worse, we can always eat them. Read the rest

An appreciation of the Sawfish, one of Earth's most threatened fish

"The earliest sawfishes likely arose in the shallow Tethys Sea, that ocean surrounded by the ancient continents of Godwanda and Laurasia, during the Cretaceous period at least 60 million years ago," writes Dr. M. at Deep Sea News.

These "sole survivors of an ancient bloodline" now number only seven species which roam the muddy bottoms of coastal areas, bays and estuaries. 

All sawfishes can move easily between fresh and saltwater and often venture deep upstream into rivers. The sawfish lifestyle puts this both their size and saw near humans.  All seven species are considered critically endangered by the IUCN.  As much as we have impacted them, sawfish have also greatly influenced our culture.

And now, they're one of the most threatened species on our planet. Thanks, humans!

More: Exaltation to Extinction for Sawfishes [Deep Sea News] Read the rest

What you can learn from the million-dollar tuna

On Saturday, a bluefin tuna was sold at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market tuna auction for $1.76 million. Which is a little crazy. (Also crazy, the size of the fish in question.) But the amount paid for this specimen of a chronically overfished species doesn't really represent simple supply and demand, explains marine biologist Andrew David Thaler. It shouldn't be read as a measurement of tuna scarcity, he says, but rather as an artifact of culture (and marketing). Read the rest

It is not good to be a weightless fish

A zero-g flight presents a unique set of perils for a goldfish.

877 dolphins wash up dead in Peru. Why?

Dolphin carcasses are displayed by conservationists and environmental police officers at San Jose beach, 40kms north of Chiclayo, Peru, on April 6, 2012. The cause of death of over 800 dolphins in the last four months on the shores of Piura and Lambayeque are still being researched, Gabriel Quijandria, Deputy Environment Minister said on April 20, 2012. More about the ongoing investigation into the possible cause of these mass die-offs: CBS News, MSNBC, AFP, DPA, CNN, (REUTERS/Heinze Plenge)

Read the rest

Greedy anglerfish sculpture for a banker

"Avaritia" is a new mixed-media assemblage from Jud Turner: "The name is taken from the Latin term for 'greed' and the bait this mechanized angler fish is using is a coin from 1799. Heightening my enjoyment of the subject (greed) it's a commission for a German financier!"

"Avaritia" Read the rest

X-Ray of a scorpion fish

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has a new exhibit up dedicated to x-ray portraiture of fish. All the shots were taken by Sandra Raredon, a museum specialist in the Division of Fishes (which is kind of a wonderful title, yes?)

I dig this because, on verbal description, this sounds rather dull. X-rays of fishes. Great. But when you actually see the images you remember two very important facts: First, fishes have tons of little, teeny bones packed into a relatively small body; Second, fishes come in a wide variety of frequently crazy shapes. That all adds up to fish x-rays being way more interesting than you might initially guess.

Take the scorpionfish. In real life, this family tends to look a bit like a bunch of Muppet trolls—runaway cast members from "Labyrinth" or something. In x-ray, you can see past the wild colors and stubbly, camouflage skin to spot the spines these fish use for delivering a numbing, toxic poison.

Check out all the fish x-rays at the Encyclopedia of Life. Read the rest

Fish mimics mimic octopus

This is a great find by Not Exactly Rocket Science's Ed Yong. A tourist and a couple of researchers from the California Academy of Sciences have documented an instance of Pacific-dwelling jawfish hiding from predators by blending into the stripes of well-known camouflage guru, the mimic octopus.

This relationship is probably a rare occurrence. The black-marble jawfish is found throughout the Pacific from Japan to Australia, while the mimic octopus only hangs around Indonesia and Malaysia. For most of its range, the jawfish has no octopuses to hide against. Instead, Ross and Rocha think that this particular fish is engaging in “opportunistic mimicry”, taking advantage of a rare chance to share in an octopus’s protection.

Video Link

Thanks, Atvaark! Read the rest

Swim goggles made from fish scales

Neat post about an experimental plastic substitute made from fish scales over at Brian Lam's ocean-themed blog Scuttlefish. So far art student Erik de Laurens "has made not only goggles, but eye-glass frames, drinking cups, and a wooden table with a fish scale inlay" from fish scales. Read the rest