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TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Osteoglossiformes
Family: Osteoglossidae (Bonytongues)

Genus/species: Osteoglossum bicirrhosum

 GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The silvery body is covered with very big scales, and the dorsal and anal fins are almost fused with the caudal fin. They have a bony tongue with a huge oblique mouth and oral bones bearing teeth, including the jaw, palate, tongue and pharynx. Two barbels are found at the end of the lower jaw.

The Silver Arawana is a large fish with a length up to 1.2 m (4 ft) and weight up to 4.6 kg (10 lbs).

Silver ArawansIMG_1974

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: This fish is found in tropical freshwater, and is especially prevalent in flooded areas and swamps in the Amazon River system. It is capable of adapting to environments with low oxygen levels.

DIET IN THE WILD: O. bicirrhosum feed mainly on crustaceans, insects, smaller fishes, and other animals that float on the water; its upturned mouth is an adaptation for surface feeding. Sometimes called the “water monkey” for its jumping abilities, Silver Arawana have been known to leap some 2 m (6.5 ft) out of the water to pluck a surprised and often doomed insect or bird from overhanging branches. Bats and snakes have also been occasionally found as stomach contents.

REPRODUCTION: Interestingly, the Arawana male is a mouth brooder carrying eggs, larvae, and young juveniles in his mouth for about 2 months.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List; Not Evaluated
CITES: No special status

REMARKS: Arawana provide the largest source of protein in comparison to other Amazon fish. Also, because of its low-fat content, they are considered the most digestible and least likely to bring about sickness.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Amazon Flooded Tunnel 2018

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/15007803584/in/album-72157620568438047/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink   http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-a0

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/Osteoglossum-bicirrhosum.html

 Animal Diversity web animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Osteoglossum_bici…

 “It’s Easy Being Green” Docent Course. California Academy of Sciences 2014

 

 

 

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes)
Order: Elopiformes (Tarpons and tenpounders)
Family: Megalopidae (Tarpons).

Genus/species: Megalops atlanticus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The Tarpon has a large, elongated, moderately deep and compressed body. Sides and belly are silvery and back blue-gray. The caudal fin is deeply forked. They “roll” at the water surface taking in air into their lunglike swimbladder which is attached to the esophagus allowing it to fill directly with air permitting the fish to live in oxygen-poor waters.

Length up to 2.5 m (8 ft) and weight up to 160 kg (350 lbs)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Nova Scotia south to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and the West coast of Africa. Though the majority of its life is spent in the open ocean, M. atlanticus tolerates fluctuating salinities and may be found in coastal waters, bays, estuaries, mangrove-lined lagoons, and rivers, such as the Amazon.

Some populations of M. atlanticus may complete their life cycle in freshwater lakes or as in the California Academy of Sciences flooded Amazon.

DIET IN THE WILD: They feed on sardines, anchovies, and other fishes as well as shrimp, crabs, and other crustaceans.

REPRODUCTION and DEVELOPMENT:  Spawn offshore. High fecundity; a 2.3 m (7.5 ft) female is estimated to produce over 12 million eggs. Spawn in waters which can be temporarily isolated from the open sea. Larvae develop inshore and are leptocephalic in shape (flattened, transparent, and eel-like).

PREDATORS: Natural predators are sharks.

REPRODUCTION: They spawn offshore and exhibit high fecundity, a 2.3 m (7.5 ft) female is estimated to produce over 12 million eggs. They can also spawn in waters that are temporarily isolated from the open sea. Larvae develop inshore and are leptocephalic in shape (flattened, transparent, and eel-like). Life span: at least 55 years.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red list; Vulnerable

REMARKS: Tarpon are among the most “primitive” existent bony fish.

It is a popular game fish of sportfishers, due to its dynamic reaction once hooked. Since the flesh is of poor quality, they are usually released, though another source states, “The flesh is highly appreciated despite its being bony.” It is marketed fresh or salted.

Their large (up to 8 cm (3 in) diameter) silvery scales are fashioned into jewelry.

References

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-9e

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/3458838683/in/set-72157620568438047/

“It’s Easy Being Green” Docent Course. California Academy of Sciences 2014 

 fishbase fishbase.org/summary/1079

 Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/339927/details

 

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes)
Order: Siluriformes (Catfishes)
Family: Doradidae (Thorny catfishes)

Genus/species: Oxydoras niger

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS:  A stocky brown catfish with three pairs of barbels.  Like all members of their family, have bony plates that protect the head and hook-like scutes that run along the lateral line. The Scutes on the O. niger are sharp and can cause significant lacerations.

Length up to 1 m (3.3 ft) in length and weigh up to 14 kg (30 lbs)

DISTRIBUTION/ HABITAT: South America: Amazon and possibly Orinoco River basins. Occur over mud in streams and lakes.

DIET IN THE WILD: The Ripsaw Catfishes large mouth creates a suction to vacuum up detritus, insect larvae, crustaceans, and plant material. When the forest is flooded, they feed exclusively on seeds and fruit.

REPRODUCTION: Sexes separate. Fertilization is external. Adults are non-guarders.

CONSERVATION: IUCN AND CITES: No special status.

REMARKS: Members of the family Doradidae are known as “talking catfishes” as they make a strange, creaking noise when removed from the water., a sound produced by movement of the pectoral spine within its socket and amplified by the swim bladder.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Amazon Flooded Tunnel 2018

Animal Diversity Web ADW animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Oxydoras_niger/

 fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/Oxydoras-niger.html

 Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/6181844571/in/set-72157620568438047/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-96

 

 

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Osteoglossiformes (Bony tongues)
Family: Arapaimidae (Bonytongues)

Genus/species: Arapaima gigas

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Usually grey to green in color with red flecks on the scales towards the tail and reddish-orange color of the filleted flesh. They are heavy with an elongated body with very large scales. There are also two symmetrical fins on either side of the body at the posterior end. The arapaima has a tongue with sharp, bony teeth that together with teeth on the roof of its palate are involved in disabling and shredding prey

It is one of the largest freshwater fishes in the world (length up to 450cm (14 feet in the 1800’s) Common length 200 cm (6.75 feet). Weight up to 133 kg. (292 lbs) In the 1800s specimens to 200 kg (440 lbs) were reported. 

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Tropical. Amazon River and its tributaries in freshwater flooded areas dense with aquatic vegetation and shore plants. Much of the water that comprises the pirarucu’s habitat is also oxygen deficient, as it is located in swampy areas of the rainforest.

DIET IN THE WILD: Specialized for surface feeding with their up turned mouths. Adults prey on fish at the surface; suck smaller fish into the mouth, then crush pre against the roof of its mouth using its tooth-covered bony tongue. Like its close relative the arawana, it can leap from the water to snatch a bird or even a monkey from an overhanging branch.

ArapaimaGigasIMG_2727

REPRODUCTION: Sexually mature at the age of five years old. Builds a nest of about 15 cm (6 inches) depth and 50 cm (20 inches) width in sandy bottoms. Guards the eggs and the young. Adults have the ability to exude a pheromone from their head to attract offspring and keep them in close proximity.

MORTALITY and LONGEVITY: Preyed upon by humans. Life spans of 15 to 20 years in captivity .

CONSERVATION: IUCV Red List Data deficient. CITES Appendix II. Heavily exploited as a commercial fish throughout the Amazon. Populations have been greatly reduced during the past 200 years Commercial fishing of arapaima was banned in Brazil outside of a limited number of sustainable reserves, but illegal fishing still continues.

REMARKS: Indigenous people utilize the scales and bones. The bony or toothed tongue was once used as a seed grater to make drink powders. Its scales were used as scrappers.

In addition to gills, it has a modified and enlarged swim bladder, composed of lung-like tissue, which enables it to extract oxygen from the air. It is an obligate air breather, well adapted to oxygen-deficient waters gulping air every 10–15 minutes when oxygen levels are low.

Often referred to as the largest freshwater fish; some freshwater catfishes and sturgeon may challenge this “record.”

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Amazon Flooded Tunnel, 2018

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  wp.me/p1DZ4b-a7

Ron’s flickr   https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/3258200203/in/album-72157620568438047/

 fishbase  www.fishbase.org/summary/Arapaima-gigas.html

Arkive www.arkive.org/arapaima/arapaima-gigas/

 U. of Michigan Animal Diversity Web  animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Arapaima_gigas/

National Geographic. www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/arapaima/

 Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/204868/details

 

 


TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Apogonidae (Cardinalfishes)

Genus/species: Sphaeramia orbicularis

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The Orbicular Cardinalfish color is greenish grey with silvery reflections. A narrow dark mid body vertical bar is present from the origin of spiny dorsal fin to just in front of anus. There are variable-sized scattered spots on rear of the body. The pelvic fins have a dark bar.

Length up to 11.5 cm (4.5 inches).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: S.orbicularis is native to the Indo-Pacific, E. Africa to Figi, S.W. Japan to New Caledonia. Found in coastal waters among mangroves, rocks, debris and piers. Depth to 3 meters.

DIET IN THE WILD: It feeds at night on planktonic crustaceans.

REPRODUCTION: Like all cardinalfishes they are paternal mouthbrooders.

CONSERVATION: IUCN 2006 Red List; Not evaluated.

References:

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Mangrove Pop-Up, Main floor (level one) 2018

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/39777042992/in/album-72157675807621922/

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/4926

Encyclopedia of Life eol.org/pages/221177/details

Reef Fish ID Tropical Pacific, Allen et/al 2003, page 266.

Ron’sWordpress shortlink wp.me/p1DZ4b-1Uj

TAXONOMY
Kingdom:  Animalia
Phylum:  Echinodermata
Class:  Asteroidea
Order:  Valvatida
Family:  Oreasteridae

Genus/species: Protoreaster nodosus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The backround body color is highly variable; may be beige, brown, orange, red or other hues, such as green or blue. Horn-shaped tall dark nodules are conical and arranged in a single row, radially on the dorsal (top) side. Most horned sea stars found are a roughly rigid five-pointed star-shape (occasionally 4 or 6) with tapering arms to the end.

Diameter up to 30 cm (12 in).

Protoreaster nodosus15010829781_2ff5562e7a_o

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Red Sea, Indian and western Pacific oceans. Found in shallow sheltered sand and seagrass beds. Depth range 1 – 582 m (3.3 – 1900 feet).

seastar3289508350_970ef3292c_o 

DIET IN THE WILD: The mouth is located ventrally (bottom). The Chocolate Chip Seastar covers its food, then pushes out its stomach from inside its body of prey. Sea stars have a unique adaptation for consuming bi-valve mollusks (oysters, clams, mussels, etc.). Stars insert a portion of their stomach into the small “gape” between the valves of a mollusk. Stomach enzymes are released and digest the fleshy part of the mollusk inside its own shell. The digested contents are moved back into the sea star leaving an empty bi-valve shell. P. nodosus prefers sponges, corals, clams and snails, other invertebrates; also opportunistic carrion feeders.

 Protoreaster nodosus3289508974_49c4d004de_b

REPRODUCTION: P. nodosus is a broadcast spawner. As in other sea stars, fertilization is external. Eggs and sperm are stored in the rays and released simultaneously. Larvae look nothing like the adults. The form that first hatches from the eggs is bilaterally symmetrical and planktonic. Larvae eventually settle and transform into tiny sea stars.

Lifespan up to 17 years

sea star15201906310_bc5840e0c0_o 

PREDATORS: Triggerfish, pufferfish, boxfish and parrotfish.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Not Evaluated

REMARKS: The Chocolate Chip Seastars are also called “knobbly sea star” and the “horned sea star.”
The chocolate chip sea star can regenerate lost limbs, as long as the central disk of the body is intact. Some species can regenerate an entire body from an arm or arm segment.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Mangrove Pop-Up, Main floor (level one) 2018

Ron’s WordPress shortlink wp.me/p1DZ4b-1ml

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/15010829781/in/set-72157608501343477/

Woods Hole www.whoi.edu/science/B/people/kamaral/SeaStar.html

Bishop Museum hbs.bishopmuseum.org/pubs-online/pdf/op11-8.pdf

Georgia Aquarium http://www.georgiaaquarium.org/animal-guide/georgia-aquarium/home/galleries/aquanaut-adventure/gallery-animals/chocolate-chip-sea-star

Reef Creature Identification, Humann and Deloach 2010, page 426

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/4704956/details

Marine Biology http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00227-008-1064-2

 

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Charochyta
Class: Equisetopsida
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Rhizophoraceae

Genus/species: Rhizophora mangle

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Height from 6–15 m (20-50 ft); has multiple prop roots descending from widely spreading branches; reddish-brown. Their unique prop roots system also help the tree to combat hypoxia by allowing it a direct intake of oxygen through its root structure. The tree produces pale pink flowers in the spring.

 

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Native to tropical estuarine ecosystems throughout the tropics in the New World, Atlantic and Pacific coastlines plus Galapagos Islands; Western coast of Africa and Pacific islands.
They are found in salt-saturated sand or mud, inundated twice daily, along tropical seacoasts, river and estuary margins; often adjacent to coral reefs.

REPRODUCTION: Its viviparous “seeds,” called propagules (reality a living tree) become fully mature plants before dropping off the parent tree.

CONSERVATION: They are planted to stabilise and reduce erosion of coastal land.

REMARKS: Red mangroves are harvested to provide timber for building, fencing, fuel and charcoal and they are planted to stabilise and reduce erosion of coastal land.

R. mangle are considered an invasive species in some locations, such as Hawaii, where they forms dense, monospecific thickets. However Mangroves are important providing  nesting and hunting habitat for a diverse array of organisms, including fish and birds as well as preserving the shore lie in storms.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium The Shallow Reef and Mangrove Pop-Up,Main floor (level one) 2018

Ron’s flickr.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/24236128013/in/album-72157675807621922/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink wp.me/p1DZ4b-1Ud

Atlas of Living Australia  bie.ala.org.au/species/NZOR-4-89998

bie.ala.org.au/species/NZOR-4-89998#classification

Eden Project  www.edenproject.com/learn/for-everyone/plant-profiles/red…

Smithsonian Marine Station. www.sms.si.edu/irlspec/rhizop_mangle.htm

EOL eol.org/pages/2942884/details

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia
Subclass: Pteriomorphia
Order: Pectinoida
Family: Pectinidae

Genus/species: Crassedoma giganteum

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Giant Rock Scallops have coarsely ribbed shells called valves. The upper valve is usually scallop-shaped but the lower valve takes the shape of the substrate to which it’s attached. Between the valves, the margin of the orange mantle can be seen, with a row of tiny blue eyes and a sparse fringe of short tentacles

SIZE: up to a diameter of 15 centimetres (5.9 in) in the intertidal zone and 25 centimetres (9.8 in) in the subtidal zone.

DISTRIBUTION: Pacific coast California and Canada and south to Baja California and Mexico usually inside crevices and under boulders, or cemented to rock surfaces, Depth down to about 80 metres (260 ft).

DIET IN THE WILD: C. gigantea is a suspension feeder, filtering phytoplankton from water as it passes over the gills. The particles are moved by cilia along grooves to the mouth where edible matter is separated from sediment particles. The waste is incorporated into mucous balls which are removed from the mantle cavity periodically by a clapping of the valves.

REPRODUCTION: The sexes are separate in C. gigantea. The veliger larvae that develop from the eggs form part of the zooplankton for about 40 days before settling, undergoing metamorphosis and beginning to form a shell. Juveniles are free-living, are able to swim and can attach themselves temporarily to the substrate by byssus threads. 

PREDATORS: Sunflower starfish (Pycnopodia helianthoides) and purple sea star (Pisaster ochraceus).

REMARKS: The scallops eyes can’t see images as we can, but they allow the scallop to adjust to the brightness of light. This can be of benefit when it opens its protective shells to pump water over their gills filtering food thus exposing its soft body parts to predators. As a predator approaches at least some light will be blocked and the scallop closes it shells.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Dr Charles Delbeek 2018

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/39884701811/in/album-72157675344287795/

iNaturalist  www.inaturalist.org/taxa/54526-Crassadoma-gigantea

Global species: www.globalspecies.org/ntaxa/913354

Reef.org www.reef.org/resources/galleries/invertebrate?page=1

Eyes. www.chuckkopczakphotography.com/blog/2015/11/13/the-eyes-…

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Echinodermata
Class: Echinoidea
Order: Temnopleuroida
Family: oxopneustidae

Genus/species: Tripneustes sp.

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The white sea urchin is a typical, although large, member of the sea urchin (Echinoidea) group. Anatomy is similar to all urchins,
The mouth is a complex protrusible structure known as the Aristotle’s lantern

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: It is found along the west coast of Africa and along the western central Atlantic Ocean from Bermuda, to the Carolina coast of the United States of America, and the Caribbean to Brazil. They live in a variety of shallow water habitats including rocky rubble, algal rock flats and seagrass beds.

DIET: Algae

REPRODUCTION: The reproductive system of the white sea urchin consists of five gonads, The gonads are not only the source of eggs or sperm, which are referred to as roe, but also serve as the main nutrient storage organ.

CONSERVATION: The White Sea Urchin is fished heavily. leading to increasing scarcity. Restrictions apply in most areas.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Shallow Coral Reef 2018

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/25651292438/in/album-72157623903687834/

Ron’Wordpress Shortlink wp.me/p1DZ4b-1U3

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS www.fao.org/docrep/013/i1751e/i1751e.pdf

atj.net.au/marineaquaria/Tripneustes_sp_.html

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays)
Order: Carcharhiniformes (Ground sharks; characterized by the presence of a nictitating membrane over the eye, two dorsal fins, an anal fin, and five gill slits.)
Family: Scyliorhinidae (Cat sharks; elongated cat-like eyes and a patterned appearance, ranging from stripes to patches to spots)

Genus/species: Cephaloscyllium ventriosum

SwellShark14479061579_a24e4ac80e_b

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Swell sharks have a stout body with flat, broad head; short snout; huge mouth,  proportionally larger that the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). Teeth are at front of jaws with dagger-like central point and 1-2 small points on each side; two dorsal fins: first much larger, with origin over pelvic fins, second dorsal fin considerably smaller than first, its origin over origin of anal fin. The body is light brown with dark patches covered with black dots.

Length up to 3.2 ft.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central California to southern Mexico; also reported near central Chile.
Found in rocky reefs and kelp forests, from surface to 460 m (1500 ft), in temperate and subtropical waters.

Swell Shark 3426936973_ee6379d9fb_b

DIET IN THE WILD: C. ventriosum is nocturnal; feeding on crustaceans and fishes, (often blacksmiths). They are lie-in-wait predators that sit on the bottom with wide-open mouth, ready to ambush unsuspecting prey. (slowly opens jaws; lies in wait for prey to swim inside).

egg case above

REPRODUCTION: Oviparous; female lays amber-colored egg cases that hatch in 8–10 months. Egg case (“mermaid’s purse”) is 9 – 13 centimeters (3.5 – 5 inches) long, 3 – 6 centimeters (1 – 2.3 inches) wide. Young have enlarged toothlike denticles on the back that help them break through egg cases. Pups measure 14 – 15 centimeters (5.5-6 in) at birth; immediately feed on their own.

Embryos may be eaten by snails that bore through egg cases.

Pup  below on top of egg case

PREDATORS:  If caught it is, usually it will be released because its flesh is of poor quality.    Life span: 25 or more years.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List: least concern species

REMARKS: C. ventriosum hides in caves and crevices during normal aquarium hours. the day, and so is often not to be seen during aquarium hours. Common and specific (ventriosum = “largebelly”) names come from its ability to take in water that makes it appear up to twice as large as its normal size, a difficult meal for predators to bite or to remove from a crevice. If caught and brought to the surface, it can swell its body with air.

When caught by fishermen and brought out of water, the release of gulped water/air can cause the swell shark to “bark”.

Occurs in aggregations while resting, sometimes piled one on top of the other.

Southern California Coast Kelp Exhibit Tidepool young with egg cases.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Southern California Coast Kelp Exhibit 2018

Ron’s WordPress shortlink wp.me/p1DZ4b-XL

Ron’s flickr 7608440813109/www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/14479061579/in/set-7215

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/802

Marine bio.org marinebio.org/species.asp?id=383

 eol eol.org/pages/208742/details

Sean Donahoe, CAS docent, materials from the Naturalist Center and collaborated with Docent Program staff document.

Works Cited

1. Carwardine, M. 2004. Shark. Firefly Books. Buffalo. 168 p.

2. Michael, S.W. 1993. Reef Sharks and Rays of the World: A guide to their

identification, behavior, and ecology. Sea Challengers. Monterey. 107 p.

3. Parker, S. and Parker, J. 1999. The Encyclopedia of Sharks. Firefly Books.

Buffalo. 192 p.

4. Ebert, D.A. 2003. Sharks, Rays, and Chimeras of California. University of

California Press. Berkeley/Los Angeles. 284 p.

5. Springer, V.G. and Gold, J.P. 1989. Sharks in Question. Smithsonian Institution

Press. Washington, D.C. 187 p.

 

 

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