Plankton of the world, beware! While most nudibranchs, or sea slugs, crawl and graze, the melibe sweeps its hood through the water like a net, capturing unsuspecting tiny drifters. A fringe of tentacles interlock and trap prey as the hood collapses to help the slug digest its meal.
Melibes may be expert plankton snatchers, but how do these soft-bodied invertebrates escape being a meal? Researchers have followed their noses to the melibe’s uniquely fruity smell—noxious secretions which may ward off nibbling fish. They can also “swim” away from predators by wiggling from side to side.
Living on giant kelp fronds or sea grass, melibes live higher up in the water column than most seafloor-bound nudibranchs. They’ve adapted well to the vertical life—as you can see in the background, their white ribbon eggs hang and sway with currents.
Happy Friday! Feeling good about the weekend? Just don’t flip out on us now. Thanks to staffer Pete Bridson for the great shots!
Learn more about harbor seals
"In my long life, I’ve never been able to see what’s down there. Now, at last, all of us can," marveled Aquarium founder Lucile Packard in the first edition of our member magazine. We’ve been sharing ocean inspiration ever since!
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Going grocery shopping? Tufted puffins can grasp 10 fish at once in their broad beaks! These diving birds stay underwater for up to a minute as they snap up small fishes, squid and invertebrates.
Need an underwater demolition expert? Meet the pocket-sized peacock mantis shrimp. Its claws can move so fast that they shatter clam shells—and generate light. Our latest podcast has more tales about this tiny terror!
Did you know that green sea turtles are a bit of an enigma? They travel far and wide, riding currents across the open ocean. Females return to the same beach each year, using magnetic clues as a map back home. They live to be a remarkable 80 years old, and our two are at least 50!
Watch them on our live cam
High school senior Graham Foster wants a future in science when he graduates. He took a big step toward that goal when he joined 75 other students from Pajaro Valley High School, Aptos High School and Watsonville High School for the Aquarium’s Watsonville Area Teens Conserving Habitats (WATCH) program.
The award-winning education program begins with a two-week outdoor summer camp and continues through the school year. Boogie boarding, exploring riparian habitats and creating sand sculptures, combined with visits to organic farms and waste-water treatment plants immerse the teens in diverse habitats and introduce them to people who are making a difference in their community.
Alongside educators and local ecologists, the students learn scientific methods to evaluate the health of local wetland habitats. WATCH students gain a better understanding of ocean systems, and their commitment to ocean conservation issues grows stronger because of it. They also become more personally connected to the ocean, committed to conservation and confident in their ability to make informed, environmentally sound choices.
WATCH students continue their summer camp experience in the classroom the following year where they pursue a larger environmental project that involves community awareness and conservation. Several teens previously enrolled in WATCH programs have earned regional and national recognition for their conservation initiatives.
“The impact these high school students have on their community and surrounding environment is very impressive,” says Rita Bell, director of the Aquarium’s education programs. “Their enthusiasm for the environment, for learning and for one another, is infectious!”
Interested? Learn more about our education programs!
Our Stumpy Cuttlefish are Laying Eggs!
There’s a lot going on with the stumpy cuttlefish in our Tentacles exhibit. Males are putting on their formal wear, turning jet black and rippling their fins, trying to attract females. The courtship efforts have not been in vain—you can clearly see black clusters of eggs on exhibit, which “look like dark grapes,” according to Aquarist Bret Grasse. Scientists think that the eggs are black because the female wraps them in a bit of ink, making them less palatable to predators.
“They’re laying them on exhibit every day,” says Bret. The “stumpies”—like most cuttlefish on exhibit—are cultivated right here at the Aquarium, reducing the need to collect in the wild. We also occasionally donate babies to other accredited institutions.
Stumpy cuttlefish (Sepia bandensis) is a squat species that forages along the seafloor. It may be small, but it’s a mighty hunter. It hunkers down among rocks, coral, sand and algae, blending with its environment, then ambushes prey. Its native range is from Malaysia to the Philippines.
Here’s lookin’ at you! The sarcastic fringehead likes to spend most of its time sitting in a bottle or boot in our “junk tank,” and has developed an impressive ability to independently move its eyes to scan for prey or predators.
Make a fringehead your computer wallpaper
"Most people go their whole lives without seeing them or coming to understand their beauty, quirkiness and braininess."