Rich Ross

Han Shot First

Pygmy Seahorses: Masters of Camouflage

By , KQED Science (some footage by Rich Ross)

Alternate copy of video: https://vimeo.com/124145465

Over the summer, biologists from the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco returned from an expedition to the Philippines with some very rare and diminutive guests, a mating pair of pygmy seahorses. The two tiny fish, each shorter than an inch and bright orange, were collected as part of a larger study of the stunning biodiversity found in the “Twilight Zone” of the ocean. It’s a relatively unexplored environment located at depths where the bright tropical sunlight barely penetrates.

Pygmy seahorses live their entire adult lives attached to a type of coral called a Gorgonian sea fan. The seahorses use their long tails to grab on to the delicately branched sea fans. But what’s really amazing is their ability to match the coral’s bright color and knobby texture. They blend in so perfectly that they are barely visible, even to a trained eye.

More people have walked on the moon than have seen a juvenile land on a sea fan.

Pygmy seahorses are nearly impossible to raise in captivity. More people have walked on the moon than have seen a juvenile land on a sea fan. Until recently, there was no record of the seahorses ever living long enough to breed in an aquarium. As a result, very little is known about them, making them extremely attractive to researchers eager to learn about the mysterious species.

One of the biggest hurdles is keeping the host sea fans alive, since the pygmy sea horses cannot live without them. Biologists Matt Wandell and Rich Ross knew this would be tough, but they had been preparing since 2011 when Bart Shepherd, Director of the Steinhart Aquarium, issued them a challenge. They were tasked with keeping the sea fans alive for three years before they could even attempt bring back the seahorses.  (more…)

Working with coral spawn in Florida

From Reefs.com

Acropora cervicornis sperm/egg bundles about 40 minutes after emergence.

Biologists from The Florida Aquarium, Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences,  Moody Gardens, Disney’s The Seas, and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium have gathered at the Coral Restoration Foundation’s facility in the Florida Keys to continue to expand our understanding of the sexual reproduction of the areas endangered Acropora cervicornis and Acropora palmata corals. (more…)

Gearing up for the MBI workshop – Breed somthing!

From Reefs.com

In anticipation of the MBI workshop coming up on July 28th in Bloomfield Hills, MI, I have been breeding everything I can get my hands on – including the dwarf seahorse Hippocampus zosterae pictured above. These little seahorses max out at about an inch, and both parents and fry can be raised and maintained with easy to hatch, enriched Artemia. If you have a fuge or a spare 5 gallon tank, why aren’t you breeding these guys? Or some clownfish? Or some Banggai cardinals? Seriously, find someone who is breeding any of these easy fish (buy captive bred animals as it is possible wild populations of some of these fish may be in trouble), get some yourself and do it. Little to no impact on wild populations, super fun, super educational, very easy, and there is nothing like the cuteness of little animals you can raise yourself…why isn’t everyone doing it? No reason I can think of, so get to it.

O. vulgaris hatchlings still alive and S. latimanus are cute

From TONMO

Is been 10 days since the O. vulgaris eggs have hatched. The paralarvae were divided into three tanks, 2 pseudo kreisels (one with a light barrier, one without) and into the octopus display tank with just air bubbles for water motion. The female is still alive and tending several stalks of eggs that failed to hatch. Interestingly, the best paralarve surrival has been in the display tank – the complete opposite of what I expected. It could be that since this tank was long established that the paralarvae had better food choices, or it could be that the flow in the pseudo kreisel made the paralarvae work very hard, or it could be something else entirely. The hatchlings in the pseudo kriesel that were exposed to 24 hours of light are doing much better over all than the ones kept in the dark.

Hatchling S. latimanus - check out it unhatched sibling in the egg

On the cuttle front, Sepia latimanus are keeping most of my attention. These are a large cuttlefish (reported to get to 50cm and 10kg!) and working with them is a huge perk that comes with working at a public aquarium. I have seen these cuttles in Indo, Oz and PNG and they are amazing, generally interactive and interested in your hand if you point your fingers down making your hand resemble the head of a cuttlefish. Whey they are small, it appears they mimic mangrove leaves to avoid predation. They are often referred to as the ‘broadclub cuttlefish’ because of an interesting behavior. I have my own video of it buried somewhere, but here is a great clip from NOVA’s ‘Kings of Camouflage’

What I didn’t know was that they did the same behavior, minus the lightshow, right out of the egg. Here is the video from a previous blog showing what I mean.

http://vimeo.com/20435675

The 20 eggs we have have almost all hatched and I have started to see the color changing abilities start to ramp up. I hope to have more video next week as the little cuttles get bigger and I am less scared of losing them.

CEPHALOPOD BREEDING