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TAXONOMY
Phylum: Chordate
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Scorpaeniformes
Family: Rhamphocottidae, Grunt Sculpins
Genus/species: Rhamphocottus richardsoni

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Short stocky body. Most of body covered with prickles. Head and body colored yellowish-beige, streaked with dark brown; ventral surface creamy yellow to pale red. Base of caudal fin is bright red. Fin rays mostly reddish.
Their large heads represent over half of their total body length—and feature a long, tapered snout, two bony ridges on top, and small cirri on the upper lip. Instead of scales, their bodies are covered with small plates containing numerous tiny spines.

Length 5-7.6 cm (2-3 in).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Pacific Ocean, Japan north to Alaska, south to Santa Monica Bay, California. Habitat: Rocky and sandy substrates, tide pools. Grunt sculpins use the barnacles’ shells as protection and egg-laying sites. In this position, the shape of its head resembles the former resident of the shell.

Intertidal to 165 m. (540 ft)

DIET IN THE WILD: Crustaceans. Young consume zooplankton, invertebrate and fish larvae

LONGEVITY: about four years.

REPRODUCTION: Observations in captivity show that during spawning season the female chases the male until he is trapped in a rocky cavern. She keeps him captive until her eggs are laid; fertilization is external. After the eggs are fertilized, the female leaves the male to guard the nest. She may return occasionally to take a shift protecting the eggs. When it’s time for the eggs to hatch, whichever parent is guarding them (male or female) takes the eggs into its mouth, leaves the nest and literally spits the eggs out—breaking the eggs open. The newly hatched larvae then swim away to begin their lives.

REMARKS: Produces grunt-like sounds when removed from water, thus the common name. Eyes operate independently.
Like most sculpins, rarely swims freely in the water column; instead usually “walks” with a hopping motion over the substrate by use of its large, fan-like pectoral fins. Frequently observed taking shelter in empty shells, including those of the giant barnacle, Balanus nubilis, as well as in cans and bottles.

They move by crawling on the tips of their finger-like pectoral fins in a series of twitchy hops, jerks and jumps.

They make a wheezing-grunting sound when removed from the water, hence the name, grunt sculpin.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Water Planet Locomotion 2018

Ron’s Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/15896092713/in/album-72157662278273245/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink https://fishoncomputer.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

Seattle Aquarium https://www.seattleaquarium.org/animals/grunt-sculpin

Aquarium of the Pacific http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/grunt_sculpin/

TAXONOMY
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda,
Order: Nudibranchia (sea slugs)
Family Tethydidae

Genus/ species: Melibe leonina

YouTube VIDEO  http://youtu.be/Xe2bM2kKm-U

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Color a translucent gray, greenish-gray, or yellowish-gray, with opaque brown hepatic diverticula. Melibe leonina has 4-6 pairs of large, leaflike or paddlelike cerata in two rows down its dorsum and a large oral hood with two rows of filiform tentacles around its margin.

Length up to 102 mm long (4 in), 25 mm (1 in) wide, and 51 mm (2 in) across the expanded oral hood.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: West coast of North America from Alaska to Baja California in eelgrass beds, kelp (especially Macrocystis) beds, harbors. When swimming it is usually upside-down, and undulates back and forth.

DIET:  M. leonina feeds on Copepods, amphipods, and ostracods, as well as small post-larval mollusks. They firmly attache itself to a kelp blade and then sweeps its raised hood downward or to the side. When food lands on the lower surface of the hood, the melibe sweeps together the two sides of the hood, and its fringing tentacles lock in the prey. The hood contracts to force the captured food into the M. leonine’s mouth.

REPRODUCTION and DEVELOPMENT:  M. leonine are hermaphrodites (they have both male and female sexual organs), and fertilization is internal. The animal can lay as many as 30,000 eggs, which are enclosed in a long, gelatinous ribbon.

REMARKS:  Noxious secretions of the melibe smell like watermelon, according to aquarists. They are gregarious animals and probably use it to keep together as well as for defense.  Most predators avoid the noxious secretions of nudibranchs; but the kelp crab is an exception. 

This species has been used for neurological research.

.

References

California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Water is Life 2019

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink wp.me/p1DZ4b-fW

Ron’s flickr www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608597736188/

Monterey Bay Aquarium www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/invertebrates/me…

EOL eol.org/pages/454874/details

 

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura (Frogs, Toads)
Family: Rhacophoridae

Genus/species: Theloderma corticale

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The Vietnamese Mossy Frog are a marvel of camouflage coloration and texture. Tubercles and spines on the skin and mottled colors of green, black, and purple make the animals blend perfectly into their mossy, wooded background. They have large sticky pads on their toes and a soft underbelly.

Length 7- 8 cm (3 inches)

IMG_6014

 

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: T. corticale are found in North Vietnam in subtropical and tropical moist lowland forests, freshwater marshes. A semi-aquatic species that spends much time in the water, hiding under rocks and floating plants. Also spends time above the water, attached to crevice or rock where it blends perfectly with its background.

Count the eyes below

DIET IN THE WILD: Nocturnal, they have a long, sticky tongue attached to the front of their mouth that they use to catch insects. Frogs has no hard palate. To swallow it pulls its eyes down into the roof of its mouth helping to push food down its throat.

ACADEMY DIET: Crickets primarily three times per week.

CONSERVATION: The World Conservation Union (IUCN) states that clear cutting forests and demand from the pet trade can potentially impact numbers.

REPRODUCTION: Eggs are laid on rocks or vegetation just above the water. After hatching, the larvae fall into the water below and metamorphose from a tadpole to a frog in about a year.

CONSERVATION:IUCN Red List: Least Concern

REMARKS: Like all tree frogs, they have adhesive toe pads that allow it to grip the undersides of slick leaves or rocks. Recent studies have shown these pads to be a sophisticated combination of mucous covered areas that provide wet adhesion and raised dry areas that provide a grip on dry surfaces. These findings have stimulated exploration into improved tire design.

They can absorb oxygen through their skin. (M Avila Academy Biologist)

Curls into a ball and “plays dead” when frightened.

Vietnamese Mossy Frog Theloderma corticale (Rhacophoridae)

Water planet, Water Dependence 

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Water Dependance 2018

Ron’s Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608456457315/with/5355461537/

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

ADW animaldiversity.org/accounts/Theloderma_corticale/classif…

IUCN Red list www.iucnredlist.org/species/59033/87476136

WAZA www.waza.org/en/zoo/pick-a-picture/theloderma-corticale

American Museum of Natural History.  research.amnh.org/vz/herpetology/amphibia/Amphibia/Anura/…

 

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Scorpaeniformes (Scorpionfishes and flatheads)
Family: Cyclopteridae (Lumpfishes)

Genus/species: Eumicrotremus orbis

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The globular shaped body is covered in cone-shaped plates, called tubercles. Females are dull green in color, while males are dull orange to reddish-brown.

Typically measures 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.6 cm) in length, with a maximum length of  7 inches.

The Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker’s anal fin has evolved into a large suction cup, allowing it to attach to surfaces. They are most commonly found attached to solid objects and are ineffective swimmers.

 

Distribution: North Pacific: From Japan to Alaska south to Puget Sound, Washington.
Habitats, include eelgrass beds, rocky reefs, kelp patches, shallow bays, and docks. They can be found in near shore waters to a depth of 500 feet (150 m).

DIET: Crustaceans and mollusks.

REPRODUCTION and DEVELOPMENT: Males guard eggs following spawning.

CONSERVATION IUCN NOT EVALUATED

REMARKS: The large adhesive sucking disc with thickened fringed margin is composed of modified and ossified pelvic rays. When disturbed, the fish hovers about, changing directions aimlessly like a tiny helicopter.

The family name Cyclopteridae translates from Greek as “circle wing,” a reference to their circle-shaped pectoral fins. Their roe is used as a substitute for expensive and/or unavailable caviar.


References

California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, locomotion, 2018

Ron’s flickr sitehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608359804936/

Ron’s WordPress short link  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-kw

fishbase  www.fishbase.de/summary/Eumicrotremus-orbis

Eschmeyer, W.N., E.S. Herald and H. Hammann, 1983. A field guide to Pacific coast fishes of North America. Boston (MA, USA): Houghton Mifflin Company. xii+336 p. (Ref. 2850)
(formerly on Academy staff)

TAXONOMY
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Scorpaeniformes (Scorpionfishes and flatheads)
Family: Scorpaenidae (Scorpionfishes or rockfishes)

Genus/species: Dendrochirus biocellatus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: the body is stout and irregularly banded in brown and light orange. D. biocellatus has large, fan-like pectoral fins, and tall, quill-like dorsal fins. It is unique from other Lionfishes because of the two, feeler-like appendages on the chin. The Fu Manchu received its name from the long mustache appendages on the front of it’s mouth.

Length up to 5 inches

Dendrochirus biocellatus6287769897_0dbf3ffb24_b

 

DISTRIBUTIONHABITAT: The Fu Manchu Lionfish is found in the Indo-Pacific in deep crevices and caves on tropical coral reefs.

DIET IN THE WILD: small fishes and shrimps.

Dendrochirus biocellatus6287770317_9ccf0044ea_b

REMARKS: Scorpionfishes have venomous quill-like spines to repel predators. Near the posterior fin false eyespots also confuse predators. They are mainly nocturnal inhabiting deep crevices and caves during the day.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Water is Life Surviving 2018

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/SpeciesSummary.php?genusname=Den…

 EOL  eol.org/pages/211678/details

Ron’s WordPress shortlink http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1EC

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/6287769897/in/album-72157659936804343/

ADW animaldiversity.org/accounts/Dendrochirus_brachypterus/

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animal
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Family Serranidae (Sea basses: groupers and fairy basslets)

Genus/species: Hypoplectrus gemma

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The Blue Hamlet is iridescent blue with thin borders on its tail. Max length : 13.0 cm

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Western Central Atlantic: USA (Florida) and Mexico. Marine; reef-associated. Tropical

DIET IN THE WILD: Hamlets have a large mouth and are carnivorous. In the wild Blue Hamlets feed on shrimps, small crabs, small crustaceans and the occasional small fish.

REPRODUCTION: Hamlets are simultaneous hermaphrodites (or synchronous hermaphrodites): They have both male and female sexual organs at the same time as an adult. They do not practice self-fertilization, but when they find a mate, the pair takes turns between which one acts as the male and which acts as the female through multiple matings, usually over the course of several nights.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Least Concern

References

California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Caribbean Reef 2018

Ron’s Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/44937435715/in/album-72157625866509117/

Ron,s WordPress Shortlink  https://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1Z9

fishbase fishbase.org/summary/47813

ADW. animaldiversity.org/accounts/Hypoplectrus/classification/

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

Genus/species: Pomacanthus paru

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: French Angelfish have tall, narrow bodies. and can turn quickly and maneuver down into narrow cracks between the corals to hunt prey and avoid predators.

The most observable difference between angelfishes and butterflyfishes is the preopercule spine on the gill cover common to angelfishes. Bodies are covered in black scales except those at front from nape to abdomen, which are rimmed with golden-yellow. Adults have a broad orange-yellow bar at the base of their pectoral fins and have a dorsal filament that is yellow.

Juveniles are jet black with circular bright yellow bands.
Max length : 41 cm (16 inches), common length : 25.0 cm (10 inches).

Adult below

19974227304_2f72e749d0_k

 

IMG_0817

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Western Atlantic: Florida, USA and Bahamas to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Eastern Atlantic: off Ascension Island to the west coasts of Africa in shallow reefs. 

Depth range 3 – 100 m (10-90 feet)

Juvenile below

French Angelfish

 

DIET IN THE WILD: P. paru are omnivores feeding on  sponges, algae, bryozoans, zoantharians, gorgonians and tunicates.

REPRODUCTION: French Angelfish are oviparous and monogamous. Spawning pairs are strongly territorial, with usually both members vigorously defending their areas against neighboring pairs.

CONSERVATION: IUCN; Least concern.

REMARKS: The tall, narrow bodies can turn quickly and maneuver down into narrow cracks between the corals to hunt prey and avoid predators. They swim by rowing with their pectoral fins.

Juveniles tend cleaning stations where they service a broad range of clients, including jacks, snappers, morays, grunts, surgeonfishes, and wrasses. At the station the cleaner displays a fluttering swimming and when cleaning it touches the clients with its pelvic fins.

Ciguatera poisoning may rarely occur from eating French angelfishes.

Juvenile below

References

California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Caribbean Reef 2018

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/1118

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

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/19974227304/in/album-72157625866509117/

ADW animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Pomacanthus_paru/

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Superfamily: Varanoidea
Family: Helodermatidae

Genus/species: Heloderma horridum

 

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Stout body covered with dark brown and yellow beadlike scales. Powerful limbs, long fat tail. Males usually have broader heads and longer necks than females.

Length to 1 m (3 ft) weighing 5-6 pounds.

Mexican Beaded Lizard IMG_0335

DISTRIBUTION/ HABITAT: Western coast of Sonora, Mexico south to Western Guatemala.
in tropical, deciduous woodland and thorn scrub. Frequently climbs trees. Often diurnal, on very hot days remains in burrows and emerges to hunt at night.

 

DIET IN THE WILD: H. horridum is a carnivore feeding on young rodents, fledgling birds, eggs, reptiles, arthropods and uses chemosensorily sensors to locate food with its forked tongue.

Academy Diet: Small mice.Mexican Beaded Lizard IMG_1679

 

LONGEVITY: Thirty years or more.

REPRODUCTION: The female lays her eggs — anywhere from two to 22 — between October and December, and they hatch the following June or July.

REMARKS: Venom is used more for defense than for stunning prey. Venom glands are located in the lower jaw (vs. in upper jaw in venomous snakes). At the base of each tooth is a grooved pit for venom delivery.

The two members of this family, which also includes the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum), are two of the three venomous lizards.  Their tenacious, chewing bite is potentially, though rarely fatal to humans.

Mexican Beaded Lizard P1050903

The third venomous lizard is the Komodo Dragon.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Waterplanet Desert Cluster 2018

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

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157625194985646/with/2982092236/

St Louis Zoo.  www.stlzoo.org/animals/abouttheanimals/reptiles/lizards/m…Zoo America. www.zooamerica.com/animals/mexican-beaded-lizard/

Animal world   www.stlzoo.org/animals/abouttheanimals/reptiles/lizards/m…

 

 

TAXONOMY
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Tetrapodomorpha
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Pythonidae (Pythons)

Genus/species: Aspidites ramsayi

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Like the black-headed python,
the Woma’s head is unusually narrow for a python. Gray, olive-brown, or red-brown above with darker olive brown to black crossbands on the body. Sides and undersides pale.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central and southwest Australia. Found in arid zones on sand plains and dune fields. Shelters in hollow logs, animals burrows, or vegetation during the day.

DIET IN THE WILD: A nocturnal hunter of small mammals, ground birds, and lizards. Because it hunts its prey in narrow tunnels, it cannot throw coils around its target. Instead the snake pushes a loop of its body against the prey, crushing it to death against the side of the burrow.

ACADEMY DIET: One rat every 2 weeks. (M Avila, Academy biologist)

REPRODUCTION: Aspidites ramsayi is oviparous, like all pythons. The female coils around the 5–20 eggs, protecting and warming them with heat generated by muscular “shivering” for the 2–3 month incubation period.

CONSERVATION: Listed as endangered on the IUCN’s Red List. Threats include the clearing of land for agriculture and grazing, and perhaps high predation by foxes and feral cats.

The Adelaide Zoo in South Australia is coordinating a captive breeding program with offspring being released to the wild. Active research is aimed at returning the woma to its former range.

REMARKS: The Woma, like its relative the blackheaded python, lacks the heat-sensing pits that border the mouth of most other pythons. The woma is a prized food item for desert Aboriginal people. Hunters follow the track of a woma to its burrow and then dig it out.

References

California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Water Planet Little Water 2018

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/4822587209/in/album-72157662092331262/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink https://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1Z0

Arkive www.arkive.org/woma-python/aspidites-ramsayi/#text=All

IUCN Red List (June, 2008) www.iucnredlist.org

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Pythonidae (Pythons)

Genus/species: Aspidites melanocephalus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The head is covered with shiny black scales; body a striped or brindled pattern in shades of black and gray-brown, gold and cream. Juveniles are more vividly marked. Females are larger than males.

A large snake with maximum length of 2.5 m, though 1.5 to 2 m more common.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia. The Black Headed Python is found in open woodlands, shrub lands, outcrops, humid coastal forests, and seasonally dry tropical woodlands. It is not found in very arid regions. Found among rocks and loose debris. During cooler temperatures, evidence suggests that when termite nests are present, they tend to burrow into these habitats as a way of maintaining a stable body temperature.

DIET IN THE WILD: A. melanocephalus feeds on birds, other reptiles; small mammals, especially rodents. They are active at night. In the absence of infralabial sensory pits it is probable that tactile, olfactory, and visual cues play an important role in communication and perception in black-headed pythons.

ACADEMY DIET: Two rats every 2 weeks. (M Avila Academy biologist)

Lifespan: from 20 to 30 years

REPRODUCTION: Oviparous. Females guard the five to 10 eggs per clutch.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Not evaluated

REMARKS: Like all pythons, a non-venomous species that kills by constriction. To save energy during the dry season when food and water are scarce, pythons reduce their body temperature. Can dig and live in burrows to escape daytime heat. Small, streamlined head and nonprotrusive eyes may be adaptations to entering burrows and hollows.

The glossy, black head that is characteristic of this species helps regulate body temperature as well, allowing the majority of the snake’s body to remain hidden while it extends only its head from its burrow. In order to cool themselves, they may bury their dark head in the sand. When disturbed, black-headed pythons occasionally hiss, but rarely bite. They may also strike with their mouths closed when threatened

References: California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Water planet: Little Water 2018

Ron’s Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/8410654794/in/album-72157662092331262/

Animal Diversity Web: https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Aspidites_melanocephalus/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink https://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1YU

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