Stingrays on video

This video says about itself:

17 March 2017

Jonathan visits the world-famous “Stingray City” in Grand Cayman with world-renown marine artist Dr. Guy Harvey to learn about Dr. Harvey’s research on Stingrays and how they cope with massive numbers of tourists.

JONATHAN BIRD‘S BLUE WORLD is an Emmy Award-winning underwater science/adventure program that airs on public television in the United States.

Manta ray video

This video says about itself:


17 June 2016

Jonathan travels to the island of Yap in Micronesia to learn about and dive with the resident population of Reef Manta Rays! They have been photo identified and named.

Giant manta ray at play, video

This video, recorded off Peru, says about itself:

Curious giant manta ray surprises manta researcher! The manta researcher was collecting a photo ID, used to monitor population trends that can help identify the effects of fishing pressure on this population of manta rays.

Full story here.

See also here.

Peru Affords Full Protection to World’s Largest Known Manta Population: here.

4 things we’ve discovered from tagging Indonesia’s mantas: here.

Save Hawaii’s manta rays

This video says about itself:

GoPro: Diving With Manta Rays

23 August 2014

Chris Cilfone dives in the waters off Maui, Hawaii and encounters a school of Giant Oceanic Manta Rays.

From Wildlife Extra:

Protection sought for Hawaii’s manta rays

Manta rays in Hawaii are at risk of entanglement in fishing lines

Despite laws in Hawaii protecting manta rays from being killed or captured, one in 10 manta rays observed in the area of Olowalu suffers from an amputated or severely damaged cephalic fin, reports the Hawaii Association for Marine Education and Research (HAMER).

The cephalic fin is an important appendage used to guide water and plankton into their mouths when feeding and these injuries are caused by entanglement in fishing line.

When they encounter a line, most likely at night, they lock their cephalic fins together and begin to roll to try to get free, only wrapping themselves tighter into the line.

They eventually break free but over weeks and months the wrapped fishing line cuts into the flesh eventually removing the entire fin or rendering it useless.

HAMER is campaigning to stop entanglement by tagging mantas with acoustic pinger and satellite tags that can be tracked and identified to each individual manta.

By doing this it hopes to identify important habitats and understand how and where they overlap with fishing areas where there is a high risk of entanglement.

The organisation will make use of the University of Hawaii’s vast network of bottom mounted acoustic receivers dispersed throughout Maui County waters.

In addition to the acoustic tags, satellite tags can provide much greater fine-scale resolution of habitat use with instantaneous results on the animal’s location and dive profile.

Once these important habitats have been identified, HAMER can begin work to engage with local fishermen and gain their support to protect the mantas.

For more information and to offer support visit and

Indonesian manta ray protection law

This video says about itself:

Manta – Ray of Hope takes the viewer to some of the most remote [seas] on earth, to experience the magnificence of manta rays and the new and rapidly moving threat to their survival.

From Wildlife Extra:

Indonesia’s new protection law for manta rays

February 2014: The giant and reef manta rays have been declared a protected species under Indonesian law by the country’s Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Minister.

This new law represents a major advancement in efforts to conserve manta rays, which in 2013 were added to the list of species regulated under of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

As of September 2014, all 178 CITES member countries will need to control trade and implement other CITES trade rules for these and several heavily traded shark species so as to ensure that international trade is not a threat to their survival.

“By fully protecting these fishes, the Government of Indonesia has demonstrated its commitment to these new CITES rules while offering real hope for these species’ future in Indonesia and beyond.” said Dr. Stuart Campbell, Director of WCS’s Indonesian Marine Conservation and Fisheries Program.

Among the world’s largest fishes, manta rays have “wingspans” that can exceed seven metres and are long-lived, reaching ages of 20-30 years. they mature late, and give birth to a single pup every two years after a gestation period of one year. As such they are among the least productive of fishes and, thus, exceptionally vulnerable to overfishing.

International market demand for these fishes’ gill rakers (minute, finger-like structures that enable rays to filter zooplankton from water), which are traded for use in an increasingly popular Asian health tonic, has driven dramatic increases in largely unregulated fisheries for manta rays, and depleted their numbers at numerous sites.

Both species are classified as Vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Although mantas have been commercially fished in Indonesia, they are far more important economically in the country’s dive tourism industry.

Recent reviews of the tourism value of manta rays have provided irrefutable evidence that these animals are worth far more alive than dead, with a single animal estimated to generate from $100,000 to as much as $1.9 million in dive tourism revenue over its lifetime, as compared with as little as $200 paid for a dead manta at a fish landing site.

“Manta rays are a huge draw for divers seeking out wildlife encounters along Indonesia’s coasts as well as in other parts of the world, such as the Maldives, the Philippines, and Mozambique,” said Dr. Caleb McClennen, Director of WCS’s Marine Program. “We expect that other governments will now follow Indonesia’s lead by capitalizing on the non-extractive value of these fishes and conserving them as a renewable resource for the future.”

Indonesia’s largest ever confiscation of illegal Manta Ray parts, including a shipment of 103 kg of gills, has taken place and a suspect has been arrested, thanks to a joint investigation  by Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Wildlife Crimes Unit: here.

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Ten, or eleven, weirdest fish in the world


Oarfish video: here.

From Southern Fried Science blog in the USA (with videos, links, etc. added by me, as usually at Dear Kitty. Some blog):

10 fish weirder than the fish in the 10 weirdest fish in the world list

Sarah Keartes is a science blogger studying marine biology and journalism at the University of Oregon. A self-proclaimed Attenborough wannabe, and all-around shark junkie, she is dedicated to exploring new tools to promote ocean outreach through science communication.

Second string. Almost famous. Runner up. We’ve all been there—bowed out gracefully and stuffed down the BAMF within. I’m talking the missed, the forgotten, the less-than-top dogs (or in this case, fish). Such was the fate of these ten water-dwellers, left looking up at the podium of last month’s “Top Ten Weirdest Fish in the World” list.

Just keep swimming my finned-friends, I’ve got you covered. They may not be the blobbiest, the toothiest, or the most menacing—but for these creatures, weird comes naturally. In their honor, it’s time for round two: the top ten weirder than the weirdest fish in the world list.

1) Sunfish

This video is called Strange Sunfish and Hope for the Ocean.

How this giant hunk of weird was left off of the list is a mystery. With large specimens reaching 14 feet vertically, and weighing over 5,000 pounds, the Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) is the heaviest known bony fish in the world. Looking more like the Hindenburg than a pelagic fish, this scale-less giant is covered in a thick elastic skin that is known to host over 40 different parasites—so many, that some of their parasites have parasites.

A single female sunfish can produce up to 300 million eggs per brood. You heard me. Three. Hundred. Million. This lands the species firmly in the Guinness Book of World Records. Upon hatching, the millions of mini-mola (squee!) look very little like their adult counterparts. With a primordial caudal fin, broad pectoral fins, and body spines, larval sunfish look much like their tetraodontiformes kin, the puffer. As they develop, the caudal fin curls inward, and the clavus (that strange rear-rudder) is formed from extensions of the dorsal and anal fin rays.

Millions of babies, complete body overhaul, parasites for days, check. Not weird enough? Throw some beak on that fish. Sunfish use their fused beak along with powerful suction to manipulate prey items into manageable pieces, and let pharyngeal teeth, claw-like plates in their throats, do the chomping.

2) Pointed sawfish

Oh, this old thing? It’s just my blade-like rostrum bearing 18-22 pairs of lateral teeth—no big deal. This one calls for a case of “WTF, evolution?” The pointed sawfish (Anoxypristis cuspidata), also known as the “knifetooth,” or “narrow” sawfish is one of the strangest-looking fish in the world. The teeth on its snout are not used for chewing, but rather as both a tracker, and a weapon.

The saw is covered in tiny ampullary pores, which allow the sawfish to pick up electrical fields produced by fish and other prey. Once located, that “saw” becomes a longsword used to stun and impale their targets.In fact, some species of sawfish can slash with enough force to completely sever their prey. Looks like the tiny jelly isn’t the only “Kingslayer” in the sea.

3) Seahorse

This video is called Seahorse Mating Dance.

From the sword-wielding, to the dainty? Think again. Seahorses are in fact fish, and are in fact ninjas. Their genus name, Hippocampus stems from the greek word Hippos meaning “horse” and Campus meaning “sea-monster.” Okay, tiny horse-monsters, that’s simple enough—but there is nothing simple about them.

As far as strange adaptations go, seahorses are an evolutionary grab bag. Their eyes move independently, their long tubular snout allows them to go undetected when stalking their prey and a ventral pouch allows the males to give live birth. As if this wasn’t enough weird for one tiny fish, seahorses are hiding one more interesting adaptation in their prehensile monkey-tails: super-strength.

Seahorse tails are made up of thirty-six bony segments. Each segment is comprised of four L-shaped corner plates connected by small joints. When exposed to pressure, like for example, from the crushing beak of a sea turtle, these joints allow the bone plates to glide and pivot freely over one another without being damaged, much like a Hoberman Sphere. The bones in the tail can be compressed by nearly 60 percent of their original width before permanent damage occurs to the spinal column. Sorry, Tony Stark, seahorses wore Iron Man armor before it was cool. So hip.

4) Pacific Barreleye

This video says about itself:

25 Feb 2009

For the first time, a large Pacific barreleye fish – complete with transparent head – has been caught on film by scientists using remotely operated vehicles at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. The deep-sea fish’s tubular eyes pivot under a clear dome.

The blog post continues:

As deep-sea fish go, the Pacific barreleye (Macropinna microstoma) is pretty normal. It possesses many of the classic characteristics of a fish: scales, pectoral and caudal fins, transparent head, nostril-eyes—wait, what?

That’s right. This incredible deep-sea fish houses its head in a fluid-filled transparent shield. The dark spots you see above the fish’s mouth are actually capsules housing the fish’s olfactory organs, much like our nostrils. The real eyes, which are marked by green spherical lenses, are tremendously light sensitive, and protected by fluid within the shield.

These up-turned eyes allow the barreleye to pick up faint shadows overhead, but how then is it able to see prey in front of its mouth? Rotation. When the fish switches from a horizontal to vertical position, the eyes rotate within the shield and remain locked on the target, allowing it to pick out tiny prey, or as seen here, to avoid capture.

5) Ocellated Icefish

This video is called Transparent blood fish. Ocellated icefish.

Yoo-hoo! List-makers! You forgot something. *Ahem* clear blood.

Any fish native to the Southern Ocean, one of the most extreme environments in the world, is destined to pack a bizarre punch. For the ocellated icefish (Chionodraco rastrospinosus), the punch comes in the form of transparent blood.

The fish’s blood lacks hemoglobin. a protein found in the red blood cells of all other vertebrates. Hemoglobin not only gives oxygenated blood its red color, but works as an agent which carries and delivers oxygen to the muscles and organs that need it. The ocellated icefish is able to function without this important protein because at cold temperatures oxygen is dissolved more easily in the plasma (the liquid component of blood), which in turn is absorbed by the muscles. Essentially, it’s like skipping the middle man in the oxygenating process.

Icefish also have an impressive circulatory system which pumps blood at a rate five times faster than the average fish. This may contribute to the fish’s ability to survive without hemoglobin, but the origins of this strange trait remain a mystery.

6) Sheepshead

This is a sheepshead video.

Alright internets, you want a toothy fish? You got a toothy fish—only, this one has a nicer set of chompers than I do.

“A fully-grown adult sheepshead will have well-defined incisors sitting at the front of the jaw, and molars set in three rows in the upper jaw and two rows in the lower jaw,” Sydney-based science writer Becky Crew said.

Like humans (and other omnivores), this combination of teeth allows the sheepshead fish (Archosargus probatocephalus) to feed on a multitude of different prey items throughout its development. This is especially helpful for a fish that freely moves from salt, to brackish, to fresh water. From slurping up worms, to crushing the shells of crustaceans, this fish is ready to nomnomnom in multiple habitats.

7) Stimpson’s (Nopili) goby

This video is called Waterfall climbing Fish (Sicyopterus japonicus).

Speaking of fish that move from salt to fresh water, how about one that climbs walls using its mouth?

The stimpson’s goby (Sicyopterus stimpsoni) is the “Prince of Persia” of Gobioid fishes. Native to the Hawaiian and Society Islands, many species of goby climb waterfalls reaching tens of meters in height—but the stimpson’s goby takes it one step further.

Through locomotion known as “inching,” this finger-sized fish can climb waterfalls as tall as 100 meters (about 30 stories).

“For a human to go the equivalent distance based on body size, it’d be like doing a marathon, some 26 miles (42 kilometers) long, except climbing up a vertical cliff-face against rushing water,” researcher Richard Blob told Livescience.

It’s all possible thanks to a distinctive oral sucker that develops as the mouth shifts from a terminal position to a sub-terminal one. We’re talking cranial metamorphosis—in only two days. I mean. Come. On.

8) Freshwater Whipray

This is a freshwater whipray video.

The freshwater whipray (Himantura dalyensis, formerly Himantura chaophraya) is one of the world’s biggest freshwater fish, and one of its biggest mysteries. These magnificent giants can reach roughly 16.5 feet nose-to-tail. To put it into perspective, the average height of a wall in a United States home is eight feet. Look at the wall—now imagine a whipray that is twice as long as the wall is tall.

Giant whiprays inhabit the sandy bottoms of estuaries and large rivers in Thailand, Borneo, New Guinea, and northern Australia, and like our friend the sawfish, use an electrosensory system to prowl the riverbed for prey.

Little is known about this ethereal creature, and more research is needed to determine its habitat use and requirements, biological parameters, and major threats so that conservation efforts can be improved.

9) Candiru

This video is called Horror story: Candiru: the Toothpick Fish – Weird Nature – BBC animals.

Now can I (in good moral standing) come up with a list of weird fish without including the infamous “penis fish?” I think not.

Native to the Amazon and Oranoco Rivers of South America, the candiru (Vandellia cirrhosa), or vampire fish, is perhaps the most notorious member of the family Trichomycteridae.

The tiny parasitic catfish has a voracious appetite for blood, and will often parasitize other fish by entering the gill chamber to satiate its hunger. This is where we run into problems. In order to locate the gill slits, the candiru hunts for streams of flowing water, which expel from the gills—streams not unlike those produced when naked humans (and not just men, mind you) urinate in the water.

When a stream is located, the candiru swims up and inside the available passage (be it the gill cavity of a fish, or the urethra of a human, or other animal). Once inside, it erects short spines from its gill covers which hold the fish in place while it uses needle-like teeth to make an incision, and engorge itself with blood.

10) Parrotfish

This video is called Feeding humphead parrotfish – Blue Planet – BBC.

Yes, I know they included parrotfish in the original list. But while they did highlight parrotfish mucus, they forgot a tasty morsel of parrotfish information that warrants a second entry…

Parrotfish waste is largely made up of tiny grains of hard coral, which sinks to the ocean floor, and adds to the substrate. In other words? They poop sand. Lots of sand—to the tune of one metric ton per fish, per year. And this is not just any sand, but the beautiful, pristine, tropical, island-y, ermagerd-roll-in-it-white sand.

Just some food for thought for the next time you find yourself pulling the tiny umbrella out of your drink at a tropical destination. That beach you’re lying on? Well, everybody poops, even weird fish.

Rare marbled electric ray in the North Sea

Marbled electric ray

Last month, Dutch fishermen caught a marbled electric ray in the North Sea. It was 45 centimeter; adults may be one meter.

This was the fourth ray of this species ever caught in Dutch waters. Between 1949 and 1968, there had been three others.

Rare eagle rays born in Dutch zoo

This video is called Science in Action: Spotted Eagle Rays.

Dutch news agency ANP reports, that in Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem two baby spotted eagle rays have been born.

According to the zoo, the young rays weigh 2.5 kilogram. They are the 20th and 21st individuals of this species born in this zoo. This makes Burgers’ Zoo the most succesful zoo in the world for reproduction of those fish. They are the only zoo in Europe where this happens, along with five non-European zoos.

Some of the rays, born in Arnhem, have since moved to other zoos.

79 new shark, ray species discovered?

This video is called Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna lewini).

From Nature journal:

Shark species more diverse than thought

Genetic analysis suggests overlooked species, raises concerns about conservation.

Daniel Cressey

22 June 2012

A genetic study of thousands of specimens of sharks and rays has uncovered scores of potential new species and is fuelling biologists’ debates over the organisation of the family tree of these animals. The work also raises the possibility that some species are even more endangered than previously thought.

Sharks and rays are key predators in marine ecosystems, but the life cycles and population numbers of many species remain poorly understood. The family tree of these animals — which are part of the elasmobranch subclass — has proved similarly opaque, with little agreement among researchers over their evolutionary relationships.

Gavin Naylor, a biologist at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, and his colleagues sequenced samples from 4,283 specimens of sharks and rays as part of a major effort to fill the gaps. The team found 574 species, of which 79 are potentially new, they report in the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History.

Naylor says that he was “flabbergasted” by the result, especially because the sequencing covered only around half of the roughly 1,200 species thought to exist worldwide.

The huge number of new species found raises immediate conservation concerns — the reason that some of these purported new species have gone undetected is probably their close resemblance to already-identified species. The populations of such species may, therefore, be even smaller than estimated, as what was thought to be one population may instead be several smaller populations of separate species.

For example, Naylor’s work suggests that the endangered scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) is actually two separate species. “Scalloped hammerheads in general have taken a huge hit, so it may be even worse than has been documented if there’s more than one species out there,” he says.

Naylor is now working on a project with the US National Science Foundation to catalogue the diversity of sharks and rays and is working to assist the International Union for Conservation of Nature to map which species are where in the world.

“This will have an impact on what is considered endangered and the fragility of different organisms,” he says. “These are sentinel species of all sorts of other organisms in the sea which are probably undergoing similar or worse kinds of impacts.”

Bull sharks have the strongest bite of any shark species, scientists have discovered. Relative to their body size, bull sharks bite harder than other, larger predatory sharks: here.