Showing posts tagged as "monterey bay aquarium research institute"
Love jellies? We have a new species, lemon jellies (Aegina citrea), in “The Jellies Experience”. They were collected here in the bay with the help of our sister organization, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and raised behind the scenes. These jellies are unique because they swim with their tentacles out front, using them like a rake to catch other jellies.
This group (there are several species) also is one of the most abundant jellies in the bay, and is found in high numbers even in the oxygen minimum zone.
A Sea of Sponges
Sponges aren’t the stars of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but their diversity of colors, shapes and sizes is eye-catching. And consider this: Every multi-celled animal on Earth is based on the genetic blueprint of sponges.They are truly the foundation of the animal kingdom.
Our sponges may not be as startling as the stove-pipe sponge that looks so much like the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. They don’t have the personality of Spongebob Squarepants. But they’re fascinating animals with a vital role to play in healthy oceans.
Sponges populate many of our exhibits in the Ocean’s Edge galleries. You can get a closer look — and even discover what they feel like — at our touch pools.
They’re simple: a group of loosely connected, nearly independent cells, with no organs and no tissues. If broken apart, they can put themselves back together again. Many produce powerful chemicals to defend themselves — chemicals that have cancer-fighting properties.
Globally, it’s estimated there are upwards of 10,000 to 15,000 species of sponges in the ocean — with thousands left to be discovered. Not long ago, our colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute documented a new carnivorous sponge: the harp sponge, pictured above.
The yellow goiter sponge, also pictured here, was spotted on an MBARI dive to the Pioneer Seamount. Some goiter sponges can grow to be nearly 10 feet across.
Photo credits: red volcano sponge and cobalt blue sponge, © Monterey Bay Aquarium/Steve Webster; orange puffball sponge, © Monterey Bay Aquarium/David Cripe; harp sponge and goiter sponge, © MBARI
We’re working hard to keep California sea otters happy—but it’s not always easy. Overall numbers are below what’s needed to move them off the endangered species list. Learn more in Countdown to Cuteness—and you could win a behind-the-scenes tour after our exhibit opens March 23!
We recently added some beautiful fish to our Open Sea exhibit. Can you find them on our live HD web cam? (© Charlene Boarts)
Why are sea otter numbers declining or stagnant? Scientists would love to know.
Learn more in Countdown to Cuteness—and you could win!
The sort-of gross diet of the “vampire squid from hell”
Our colleagues at MBARI – the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute – have been sharing videos and stories about the vampire squid for years. We in turn have been sharing them with visitors during our daily Mysteries of the Deep auditorium program.
Now MBARI researchers have solved the mystery of what these unusual deep-sea animals eat. It’s a fascinating tale, with a high gross-out factor – if you’re easily grossed out by animals that eat corpses, feces and mucus.
Turns out that the vampire squid, an ancient animal with characteristics of both squids and octopus, lives in a low-oxygen zone where living prey is scarce. But there’s an abundance of marine snow raining down, consisting largely of poop, dead bodies and mucus discarded by other ocean life.
So, unlike all other known cephalopod species, it hangs out, waiting for this manna to sink down, where it traps the goodies on filament-like tentacles, wraps them in mucus and gobbles it up.
This despite a Latin name (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) that translates as “vampire squid from hell.”
Not as charming as the cast of Twilight, perhaps. But a mystery of the deep – solved.