Tag Archives: California Academy of Sciences

Amusing Monday: Colorful sea slugs reveal evolutionary strategies

In conjunction with National Sea Slug Day last Monday, the California Academy of Sciences released colorful photographs of 17 newly identified nudibranch species.

Striking colors and unusual color patterns were given a special focus in a genetic study that is helping to group the nudibranch species and understand how they evolved. Hannah Epstein, affiliated with the California Academy, was the lead author on the research paper published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

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Amusing Monday: Seahorses can capture the heart

When it comes to types of fish, seahorses are about as odd as you will ever know. The males, rather than females, are the ones that give birth after carrying their offspring in a pouch, as you can see in this popular video on YouTube.

It’s been about a year since Monterey Bay Aquarium opened its exhibit “The Secret Lives of Seahorses.” Thanks to KQED Television in Northern California, we can learn a great deal about sea horses from two videos. Both look great in high definition, which means you can play them full-screen.

The first video features Healy Hamilton, director the Center for Biodiversity Research at the California Academy of Sciences, whose passion for sea horses comes across at the outset of the video:

“Seahorses completely captured my heart in that first encounter that I ever had. I was snorkeling through a mangrove forest. I knew immediately when I saw it because it had its tail wrapped around a mangrove root. I took my pinkie finger and I rubbed it down her belly, and she unwound her tail from the mangrove root and wrapped her tail around my finger and just stood there holding hands with me. I was completely hooked; I was crying in my face mask.”

The piece goes on to talk about the endangered status of seahorses in the wild, in part because they are taken for aquariums, novelties and especially Chinese medicine. What can be done to recover seahorses from the brink of extinction also is described.

The second video features seahorse expert Jonelle Verdugo of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, who discusses the biology of seahorses and the challenges of raising them in captivity. Be sure to check out the related links.

If all this truth about seahorses isn’t amusing enough, I’d also like to share some photo art that I enjoyed. The creativity of photoshop artists really comes through in their interpretation of the odd seahorse and their concerns about its future. See the Web site called Freaking News.