The lancelets, also known as amphioxus, are a group of small worm-like creatures that live in shallow seas around the world. In some places there can be up to five thousand lancelets per square meter of sand! They spend most of their lives buried in the sand with their heads above the surface, filtering water using mucus to catch plankton and bacteria for food.
In the deep sea where there’s little sunlight, the behavior of animals remains largely a mystery. However, the more scientists observe, the more they discover about how creatures are behaving in the dark.
Parrotfish eat the algae on coral reefs, keeping them clean and clear, allowing sunlight to reach the algae living within the corals.
We’re thrilled when we see a magnificent sunflower sea star. The sunflower star, Pycnopodia helianthoides, may not be a “charismatic megafauna” like the most well-known apex predators. But, indeed, this large sea star is a powerful predator and the apex one in some of its world.
It’s a Long Way Home
Each year gray whales make a long migration along the west coast of North America from the cold waters of the Arctic to the warm waters of the Baja lagoons and back, about 10,000 miles. They travel up to five miles per hour during the southbound migration. That’s the longest migration of any mammal. Why this long journey? The whales spend their summers feeding on rich food on the bottom in the Arctic and then travel to Baja to mate and give birth in several lagoons.
Planarians are free-living flatworms. Like other flatworms the planarian has a bilateral body plan with a brain and stereo eyes that enable it to actively hunt. Unlike the flashy flatworms that live in the ocean, the thousands of species of planarians live either in freshwater or on land around the world.
Glass sponges get their name from their spicules built from silica – glass. Sponges don’t have skeletons like ours; instead they have spicules, which are the structural components like bricks. The glass sponge’s design has intrigued engineers who want to understand how they build glass structures of such strength.
We all know that bees are pollinators. And that their pollinating is essential to ecosystems and the food we eat.
Sadly, wild bees and honeybees have been in decline in recent decades. Parasites, pesticides, pathogens, and the climate crisis are main factors impacting bees today. As the only insect that is responsible for at least one third of our food, we may literally starve from their decline.
Can robot bees help?
Photograph credit: Denise Ryan
One of the most abundant creatures in the aquatic world is the tiny crustacean called a copepod. Most live as plankton in the open ocean. But they also live in the deepest ocean trenches, freshwater streams and lakes, in caves, and really anywhere there’s water — from frigid to very hot.
Ammonites may be the most familiar fossil to us — aside from dinosaurs.
What are those spiral rocks that seem to come in every size? Ammonites were molluscs, specifically cephalopods, most closely related to octopus and squid living today.