Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Favorite Aquatic Critters

Coccolithophores are a type of phytoplankton. They are partly responsible for the release of large amounts of dimethyl sulfide (DMS) into the atmosphere. DMS is converted to sulfate. These sulfate molecules act as cloud condensation nuclei, which increases general cloud cover. Therefore, these tiny phytoplanktons are, to a large degree, responsible for the increase in the number of clouds produced.
Portuguese man o' wars  are metazoan zooplanktons that are made up of many minute individuals called zooids.  Their only means of transportation is travel by wind. Their large bladders act as a sail while their tentacles discourage predators.  Their tentacles carry poisonous venom that often attracts fish, such as clownfish, that are immune to the venom and use the tentacles as shelter. 

The aquatic macrophyte I selected is the red and blue water lily, Nymphaea nouchali. It flourishes in static or slow flowing freshwater environments. It originated in the Indian subcontinent and is prized as an ornamental plant for gardens.

I chose the stoplight parrotfish as my fish species. The stoplight parrotfish is a sex changing species of fish. They are born as females and change into males in their terminal stage. They feed on coral and various other reef organisms, and are aided by their teeth which form a parrot-like beak. They inhabit coral reefs in Florida, Bahamas, the Caribbean, eastern Gulf of Mexico, Bermuda, and Brazil.

I picked the yellow clawed fiddler crab for my crustacean. They are found in salt marshes, and on the sandy or muddy beaches of West Africa, the Western Atlantic, Eastern Pacific and Indo-Pacific. Fiddler crabs communicate by a sequence of gestures and waves. Males have an over-sized claw used during violent courtship over a female.

The beluga whale is a near threatened species of cetacean easily identifiable by its all white appearance and protrusion of the head.  They are found in the arctic and sub arctic regions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.  Belugas live in pods and feed mainly on fish but also on squid, octopi, and crustaceans. They are one of only a few whale species that are capable of swimming backwards.