All posts by csmatter

Dwarf whale survived into Ice Age

i found this article interesting because through my classes toward getting my degree i was able to take a paleontology/ paleobiology class and really enjoyed it, and when i saw this article about research that has been used to determine that a certain type of whale that was thought to have died off just before the ice age actually survived much longer than first thought.   hope others find this kind of stuff interesting.

April 5, 2013 – Herpetocetus, a baleen whale that was thought to have gone extinct 3,000,000 years ago, actually survived into the Ice Age (Pleistocene), according to recent research. It was the last survivor of the primitive baleen whale family called cetotheres. The new study from New Zealand’s University of Otago shows this whale avoided extinction far longer than previously thought.

Otago geologist Robert Boessenecker has reports that a fossil, found in northern California, of the 4-5 meter long Herpetocetus, may be as young as 700,000 years old.

Boessenecker says the previously youngest-known fossils of this whale were from the pre-Ice Age Pliocene epoch; approximately 3 million years ago, a time before many modern marine mammals appeared. Baleen whales of this type were most common much earlier, about 10-15 million years ago.

“That this whale survived the great climatic and ecological upheavals of the Ice Age and almost into the modern era is very surprising as nearly all fossil marine mammals found after the end of the Pliocene appear identical to modern species.

“Other baleen whales underwent extreme body size increases in response to the new environment, but this dwarf whale must have still had a niche to inhabit which has only recently disappeared,” he says.

The find indicates that the emergence of the modern marine mammals during the Ice Age may have happened more gradually than has been supposed, he says.

The discovery also lends indirect support to a hypothesis about the modern pygmy right whale (Caperea marginata) recently published by Mr Boessenecker’s colleagues Professor Ewan Fordyce and Dr Felix Marx. The pair posited that this enigmatic Southern Ocean whale is not a true right whale but actually a member of the cetothere family and one of the closest relatives of Herpetocetus.

“If their hypothesis is correct, this latest discovery indicates that other close relatives of the pygmy right whale nearly survived to modern times within the Northern Hemisphere.

“In this light, Herpetocetus can be viewed as a Northern Hemisphere equivalent of the pygmy right whale: both are small-bodied with peculiar anatomy, possibly closely related, with feeding habits that are seemingly divergent from other baleen whales.”

All baleen whales lack teeth and instead use baleen to strain small prey like krill and fish from seawater. Many whales, such as humpback and blue whales, gulp enormous amounts of water during lunges, while others such as gray whales filter prey from mud on the seafloor.

Chris Matter

Archerfish Get an Eye Test

when i read this article headline i thought it was kind of a joke, i thought i have heard of a fish that could shoot water and hit things but i never thought they were this accurate,   its also cool that they are able to test this fish to determine how its able to hit things so accurate.   this fish is really cool, its like the quick draw mcgraw of the fish world, as far i know.   which is not a lot. 🙂 hope you find this as interesting as i did.


Chris M.

New species found in Streams of Manyas Lake Basin, Turkey

Its just amazing to me that biologist just continue to find new species of fish in all corners of the world.   Here is an article that is a nice example of this.   pretty cool looking fish i think, and its related to the carp, sweet.


The newly described species Alburnoides manyasensis, belongs the large carp family Cyprinidae that includes freshwater fishes such as he carps, the minnows, and their relatives. This is the largest fish family, and more notably the largest family of vertebrate animals, with the remarkable numbers of over 2,400 species. Cyprinids are highly important food fish because they make the largest part of biomass in most water types except for fast-flowing rivers.

The genus Alburnoides is widely distributed in Turkey in rivers and streams of basins of the Marmara, Black and Aegean seas, being absent only from the Mediterranean Sea basin. It is distinguished by small black spots located on each side of the fish, especially prominent on the anterior of the body. The description was published in the open access journal Zookeys.

Alburnoides manyasensisis is described from the Koca Stream drainage of Lake Manyas, Marmara Sea basin in Anatolia and is currently only associated with this specific locality. The name of the species is an adjective that is derived from the name of Lake Manyas to which the new species is possibly endemic.

The new species inhabits clear fast running water with cobble and pebble substrates. It is a comparatively small representative of the family with maximum known body length of only 92 cm while the largest representative of the family, the giant barb (Catlocarpio siamensis) can reach up to the astonishing 3 m in length.


shark attacks highest since 2000

So i have been seeing on the news the huge gatherings of sharks that have been congregating near some popular beaches and i thought that was pretty cool looking, cause sharks are pretty cool to me and to see that many all gathered in one small area is kind of amazing.   according to what i have heard they are all just migrating to warmer waters and the beaches where they are seen are just pit stops along their way.   i know the shark attacks are not particularly good things that come from these types of events but they are pretty cool none the less.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Shark attacks in the U.S. reached a decade high in 2012, while worldwide fatalities remained average, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File report released today.
The U.S. saw an upturn in attacks with 53, the most since 2000. There were seven fatalities worldwide, which is lower than 2011 but higher than the yearly average of 4.4 from 2001 to 2010. It is the second consecutive year for multiple shark attacks in Western Australia (5) and Reunion Island (3) in the southwest Indian Ocean, which indicates the localities have developed problematic situations, said George Burgess, director of the file housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.
“Those two areas are sort of hot spots in the world – Western Australia is a function of white shark incidents and Reunion is a function most likely of bull shark incidents,” Burgess said. “What I’ve seen in all situations when there’s been a sudden upswing in an area is that human-causative factors are involved, such as changes in our behavior, changes in our abundance, or an overt shark-attracting product of something that we’re doing.”
Eighty unprovoked attacks occurred worldwide, slightly more than 2011. Four attacks were recorded in South Africa, three of which resulted in death, which is higher than its recent average of one fatality per year. Australia had an average year with 14 attacks and two fatalities, despite the media attention regarding incidents in Western Australia that resulted in a government-sanctioned culling hunt for endangered white sharks.
“The concept of ‘let’s go out and kill them’ is an archaic approach to a shark attack problem, and its opportunities for success are generally slim-to-none,” Burgess said. “It’s mostly a feel-good revenge – like an ‘eye for an eye’ approach – when in fact you’re not likely to catch the shark that was involved in the situation. The shark that was involved in the situation also isn’t necessarily likely to do it again.”
Following long-term trends, most shark bites occurred in North American waters (42). The 53 U.S. incidents include Hawaii and Puerto Rico, which are not recorded as occurring in North American waters in the International Shark Attack File database. Florida led the country with 26, followed by Hawaii (10), California (5), South Carolina (5), North Carolina (2) and one each in Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Puerto Rico. One fatality occurred in California, and Hawaii had the highest number of attacks since seven in 2007, more than its yearly average of four. Most incidents in Florida occurred in Brevard (8) and Volusia (7) counties because these central east coast beaches are high aquatic recreation areas, especially for surfers, Burgess said.
“The numbers from an international standpoint were on target for the last couple of years because, in theory, each year we should have more attacks than the previous year owing to the rise of human population from year to year,” Burgess said. “Thus the shark attack rate is not increasing even though the number of shark attacks is rising. Shark attack as a phenomenon is extremely uncommon, considering the millions of hours humans spend in the water each year.”
The 2012 U.S. fatality rate of 2 percent is far lower than the 22 percent for the rest of the world, likely due to superior safety and medical capabilities in the U.S., Burgess said.

“We could reduce risks by avoiding areas and times when sharks are most common, and where danger is at its highest,” Burgess said. “A perfect example of that is in Western Australia, where people have been getting hit in areas of known white shark abundance at times of year when white shark numbers are at their highest – the responsibility is upon us, as humans, to avoid such situations or else pay the consequence.”
Surfers experienced a majority of shark incidents with 60 percent, largely due to the provocative nature of the activity. Swimmers were affected by 22 percent of attacks, followed by divers, with 8 percent.
Burgess said 30 million to 70 million sharks are killed every year in fisheries, and people need to recognize humans pose a greater threat to elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays) than sharks do to humans. Worldwide over-fishing, especially to meet demands for flesh and fins used in shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy, continues to contribute to the decline in shark populations, Burgess said.
In the case of a shark attack, researchers advise taking a proactive response, such as hitting the shark’s nose, since they respect size and power.
“Shark attacks are rare and it doesn’t matter whether you call them attacks or bites or bumps – your chances of having any of them are slim,” Burgess said.
For additional safety tips and to view the 2012 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary, please visit
University of Florida

Chris Matter

Deep-sea life Threatened by global warming

so while thinking of what kind of current event topic i wanted to focus on and it was pretty simple cause i wanted an environment that is pretty darn cool in my mind, the deep ocean.   where it seems like everything down there is super sweet looking.   while looking i found a couple good articles about spcific deep sea creatures but decided this one need to be focused on for a bit because it effects all of the cool critters down there.   i feel like the coolest fish in the ocean are in the deep sea and it is now being learned that even though they are so far from everything else in the world, they are still being effected by the weather changes we have been hearing so much about.


hope you think this is as important as i believe it is


Nov. 5, 2012 – A new study of deep-sea life across the globe aims to understand how natural gradients in food and temperature in the dark, frigid waters of the deep sea affect the snails, clams, and other creatures that live there.

Similar studies have been conducted for animals in the shallow oceans, but our understanding of the impact of food and temperature on life in the deep sea – the Earth’s largest and most remote ecosystem – has been more limited.

The results will help scientists understand what to expect in the deep sea under future climate change, the researchers say. “Our findings indicate that the deep sea, once thought remote and buffered against climatic change, may function quite differently in the future,” they write.

All living things need energy in the form of food, heat and light to survive, grow, and reproduce. But for life in the deep sea – defined as anything beyond 600 feet (200 m) – energy of any kind is in short supply. Descend more than a few hundred feet beneath the ocean surface, and you’ll find a blue-black world of near-freezing temperatures, and little or no light.

Because so little of the sun’s light penetrates the surface waters, there are no plants for animals to eat. Most deep-sea animals feed on tiny particles of dead and decaying organic matter drifting down from the sunlit waters above. It is estimated that less than 1% of the food at the surface reaches the ocean’s watery depths.

The researchers wanted to know what this energy deprivation means for deep sea habitats across the globe, and for the animals that live there. “How much of the differences that we see across different groups of deep-sea animals in terms of growth, or lifespan, or the number of species, are related to differences in the temperature or amount of food where they occur?” said co-author Craig McClain of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, North Carolina.

To find out, the researchers compiled previously published data for hundreds of different deep-sea organisms across the globe, ranging from crabs and snails, to fish and tube worms. The data included parameters like metabolic rate, lifespan, growth, biomass, abundance, size and diversity.

The results suggest that the relative importance of the two basic forms of energy available in the deep sea – food and warmth – vary considerably, said co-author Michael Rex at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

Temperature has the biggest impact on parameters at the individual level, such as metabolism and growth rate. For example, deep sea animals living in warmer waters tend to have faster metabolisms.

But for higher-level parameters such as abundance or biodiversity, food is more important. Generally speaking, food-rich areas tend to have animals that are bigger, more abundant and more diverse.

The results add to the growing body of evidence that the deep sea isn’t isolated from the effects of climate change, the researchers say.

“The oceans are getting warmer and they’re producing less food,” McClain said. Warmer water in the deep sea due to climate change could mean faster growth and metabolism for the animals that live there, but that could be bad news if the oceans produce less food to support them.

“The news is not good,” Rex added. “Changes in temperature and food availability associated with climate change could cause widespread extinction in the deep ocean if environmental changes occur faster than deep-sea organisms can respond by shifting their ranges or adapting to new conditions.”

Queen Parrotfish

Name : Queen Parrotfish

Scientific Name (Scarus vetula)



Differences between males and females: Almost all species are sequential hermaphrodites, starting as females (known as the initial phase) and then changing into males (the terminal phase). In some species, the males have a harem of females that congregate around them. Once the male dies or gets chased off, one of the females will change into a male and become the new dominate male. In most species, the initial phase is dull red, brown or grey, while the terminal phase varies from vividly green or blue with bright pink or yellow patches. The remarkably different terminal and initial phases were first described as separate species. There are also some species where the phases appear similar in physical appearance.

Reproductive mode: Parrotfish are pelagic spawners, they release many small buoyant eggs, which become part of the plankton. The eggs float freely, settling into the coral until hatching.

Trophic status: Omnivores but primarily algae-eaters

Habitat preferences

Where on the globe can you find it? The Parrot fish can be found all around the Caribbean in the topical coral reefs.

Pfish map

What kind of habitat does it like? Tropical Coral Reefs

Does it change habitat over its life history? Parrotfish tend to stay near the same Reef if was hatched at but some do stray to neighboring reefs throughout their life time.

 Primary activities

How does it eat? They are considered to be herbivores because parrotfish eat a wide variety of reef organisms such as Coral (polyps) and coralline algae. By eating the coral, parrotfish can help prevent algae from growing wildly and choking the coral. Their teeth grow continuously; replacing the material worn away by breaking off chunks of coral and feeding. The teeth grind up the coral and coralline algae and ingest bits of rock during the feeding process. Their feeding activity is important for the production and distribution of coral sands in the reef environments.  After they digest the rock, they excrete it as sand which helps to create small islands and the sandy beaches of the Caribbean.

Does it migrate? The Parrotfish does not migrate, and it rarely moves far from the protection of the reef where it lives and feeds.

Enemies: The Parrot fish is not a particularly small fish most of its life but it is small enough to be a meal for one of the many predacious fish that live in reef environments.   One such predator of the parrot fish is the Moray Eel because they are extremely aggressive, defiantly and enemy.

Friends: The parrotfish is an omnivore, but it does not make a habit of eating smaller organisms. Parrotfish tend to be docile in most cases unless protecting a harem. The only known symbiotic relationship the parrotfish has is with the coral that it eats. The parrotfish helps clear the algae from the coral which allows the coral to continue to grow without being overrun.


Is it typically active or lethargic? Active

Behaviors: They form very large schools of around 40 that can be found moving about in the water. The smaller fish are on the inside of the school with the larger ones around the parameter. The males are dominant and they will have the females fighting over being around them in the school at various times. The males often challenge each other for overall dominance of the school.

Fun Facts:

One parrotfish can produce 90 kilograms (200  lb) of sand each year.

Some male parrot fish maintain harems of females. If the dominant male dies, one of the females will change gender and color and become the dominant male.

At night, the parrotfish secretes a mucus that covers the entirety of its body.   This allows the fish to attach to rocks or coral for protection. The mucus blocks the scent of the fish from attracting predators as well as prevents parasites from using this particular fish as a host.

Fish have big impact on nutrients

So during my searching for an article i found some that to me were not all that interesting because i do not have much expertise in the fish worl so some of it was over my head.   but then i found this one about the interaction between the fish and the ecosystem they live in and found that they really are dependent on one another to survive and without one the other may die off quite quickly.   maybe this is common knowledge to a lot of people but it is just something i just never thought about therefore never realized that there was such a close relationship between the fish and things like the sea glass they hide in.   i just found it cool.


Researchers have found that fish play a much more important role in contributing nutrients to marine ecosystems than has been thought. Two studies co-authored by Jacob Allgeier, a doctoral student in the UGA Odum School of Ecology, say fish inject more nutrients into marine ecosystems than any other source.

The studies were published in the journal Ecology.

In most tropical coastal ecosystems, the primary food sources such as sea grass and algae cannot grow and thrive without enough phosphorus and nitrogen in the environment.

In marine food webs, Allgeier says, fish are usually thought of as predators, consuming microorganisms, plants and smaller animals. But through their excretions, they provide the essential fertilizer that algae and sea grass need to grow.

To examine the impact of fish poop on marine ecosystems, the team compared sites where the number of fish present differed. Fish are attracted to reefs. So the researchers built a number of artificial reefs, each of one of two sizes, large and small (large reefs attract more fish than do small ones).

Then, for two years they monitored the sites and recorded the size, number and species of fish present. They  also measured sea-grass growth rate and nutrient content.

Their finding was that sea grass around the big “reefs” grew much faster and contained far more nutrients . “Nearly a four-fold difference,” Allgeier said. “Fish are putting an enormous amount of nutrients into this system–it appears to be even more than all other sources, including runoff from golf courses and all other human caused impacts, combined.”

Allgeier described the large reefs as “biogeochemical hotspots”–areas where chemicals cycle between organisms and the environment at extremely high rates.

“The reefs are nodes within the ecosystem matrix,” he said. “They’re increasing productivity around the reefs by orders of magnitude. If there are enough of them (reefs), then they may be increasing productivity at the ecosystem level by orders of magnitude as well. That’s something we’re going to be looking at next.”