Tag Archives: ocean

Bouy 5 is Not Where It’s Supposed to Be

Buoy 5 is a the result of a strange sight that greeted us during a morning walk on a storm-beaten beach. The thunderous storms and swelling waves produced an eerie calm on that beach the next morning.   It is the best moment to comb the beach for flotsam and any new shiny shells washed up in the turbulent waters.

There are all sorts of strange things to find on a beach after storms. The waves pond the shore and when there is a high tide during the downpour of wind and rain it only increases the currents and leaves all kinds of exciting treasures to find.

Naturally, our surprise was enormous when we found this navigation buoy just sitting on its side. I can only guess the power the current would need to rip one of these things from its mooring. In fact you can see the rest of the mooring structure and cable at the bottom of the buoy itself.

Honestly, the entire event reminded me of stories I heard about beaches in WWII.   The British Army had a special group of people designated to watch and comb the mud flats and beaches every morning looking for lost sea mines and other wreckage.Buoy 5

Fortunately, the navigation buoy was the most exciting thing to occur that morning. We did find a number of very nice shells, some shark teeth, about 20 dead mangled jellyfish, and even 2 dead parrotfish. But by far the capture of the morning was Buoy 5. After all does anyone really want a picture of a dead smelly parrotfish?

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What a Cute Ball of Urchin Spines?!?

Spines of Urchin is a photograph of the intimidating sea urchin.   These brainless animals crawl slowly upon the ocean floor looking for food.  No, I’m not being cruel to these cute balls of spines.   They really have no brains.   They also do not have ears, or eyes and their mouth is on the bottom.

 

Spines of Urchin
The flat disk on the spines are feet!

These unique creatures roam the seabed looking for algae or kelp to munch on using light-sensitive cells in their spines. At first glance, you might not see how these amazing creatures travel up sheer rock walls or even the sides of holding tanks.  The secret is in their spines.  If you look at Spines of Urchin closely you’ll see that some of the spines end in points, and some end in a flat suction like disc.   These discs are their feet.  They not only use the feet for travel and suction but also to pick up pieces of food and move it towards their mouths. I’d imagine being a sea urchin would be a strange existence.

 

Up to now, this has to be one of the strangest animals that I’ve ever eaten.  You read that right.  They are edible!  In fact, the roe of a sea urchin is a supreme delicacy sought by chefs all over the world.  The hard part is getting past the spines.

You find this delicacy in various cuisines around the world.  Eaten everywhere from Maine to California, they are even served in various pasta sauces in Italy.  But the biggest appetite of sea urchin belongs to the Japanese.  Indeed, it was at a Japanese restaurant that I had my first experience with this strange dish.

 

It tastes like a strange salty version of codfish that seems to melt in your mouth.  It was quite pleasant, and I’d readily eat it again.  However, before you order up a big plate of these little tapas, you might want to try it first. While I enjoyed it, there are many people who do not.  This is one of those experiences where you either love it or hate it.

 

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For more information of the sea urchin check out:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/557549-health-benefits-for-sea-urchin-sushi/

http://healthbenefitsofeating.com/sea-food/health-benefits-of-eating-sea-urchin/128/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/318753-nutritional-facts-of-a-sea-urchin/

 

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Lionfish Get No Love, Only A Stew.

Swimming for his royal portrait, this lionfish is a beautiful creature of the sea.  His majesty showed absolutely no concern for us.  We were merely curiously weird-looking creatures that were obviously too large to eat and not worthy of an alarm.

Unfortunately, his Highness needs to become concerned about us.  The lionfish has become a serious issue to conservationists and divers in the Atlantic.

But why the loss of love?    Lionfish look great in an aquarium.   In fact, the lionfish is often available at specialty aquarium shops both domestically and through online international purchase.

Depending on the variety and species these fabulous additions to any saltwater aquarium hobbyists collection will run you from $37-$110.

  • Invaders:   In the Atlantic and Caribbean the Lionfish is an invasive species.  This naturally means that they do not belong here. Their introduction to the fragile coral reefs off of Florida and the Bahamas occurred due to the intentional dumping of lionfish by frustrated fish owners.    These hobbyists either grew tired of their pets or the pet quickly outgrew his tank and ate his tank mates.  Once in the ecosystem, this fish quickly adapted and grew out of control.
  • Apex predator:   In the world of tropical reefs there are two predators that have no natural enemies.  The first is barracuda.  The second is the lionfish.The venomous spines that these beautiful fish display both to corral their prey and protect themselves make short work of any natural predator wanting to make a quick meal of them.   This appetite combined with a stomach that can expand over 30 times and a voracious appetite for at least 50 different species of animals on the reef causes severe trouble.  You have an eating machine that is unstoppable.
Lions Pride
Lunch?
  • Menu Please!   As it turns out, lionfish have a wonderful flavor slightly reminiscent of lobster.  Most people are willing to try this delicacy once they learn that lionfish are both invasive and destructive to the local ecosystem and the fish that has no natural predators.

Realistically, we weren’t a threat to them due to their status as a pet.  However, once discovered that they’re not only edible but very tasty sautéed with a touch of butter, all bets were off.

The harvesting of lionfish during derbies and the recent additions of how to guides for preparation of this fish led to some restaurants trying their hand at lionfish on the menu.  A small number of entrepreneurs have already begun ideas for farming these exotic fish for mass consumption.  Their future as a main course seems assured.

 

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For more information check out these links:

http://www.traditionalfisheries.com/cooklionfish.php

http://www.reef.org/catalog/cookbook

http://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/recipes/lionfish-romesco-stew/11514/

http://eattheinvaders.org/lionfish/

http://www.lionfishhunters.org/Recipes.html

http://www.deathtolionfish.org/facts.html

 

Lava Lamp of Nature – A Dance of The Deep

The black light at the top of the water illuminated the undulating white shapes slowly swimming through the murky blackness of the deep.  Slowly swimming with strange ethereal motions to the surface, these strange otherworldly shapes would drift and float with the currents to forever search for their next meal.

 

Each jellyfish appeared as a blob of floating paraffin in nature’s oldest copy of the modern-day lava lamp.   Yet these blobs contained living shapes of real creatures that share the dark and murky depths each night.  No simple blobs of wax, these jellyfish danced as their ancestors had millions of years ago.

Lava Lamp of Nature

As each jellyfish appeared at the surface it would for some mysterious reason start a slow dance towards the gloomy obscurity of the bottom.  In time the twisting and turning allowed them to swim silently sideways or even seem to do silent loops in time to some strange rhythmic orchestra that only a jelly could hear.

 

As a visitor to their nocturnal wanderings, a person can only stare in amazement at the motions and glowing movement of the jellies.  It is amazing how a simple yet elegant creature can have so much grace and beauty floating in calming silence. It is almost hypnotic in retrospect.  The same form of impression one gets from watching a lava lamp breaking into and recombining small globules of wax suspended in mineral oil floating silently as the currents push them to and fro in a enthralling light.

 

Snapping the picture to share this tranquil scene, I remind myself that every night in the black cold pressing depths of the sea that same dance occurs unseen by human eyes.  Instead, meant for an unseen audience with dark colorless eyes quietly keeping time to unheard music while watching from the murky black of the sea.

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Breakfast at the Bait Bucket

The white heron bellied himself up the bar for breakfast at the bait bucket.  He sat there with complete satisfaction that a fine meal was soon going to appear in his bucket.

“Where has this human been?” he thought.   He had been eagerly waiting for hours since sunrise for his human waiter to appear.  Now it was only a matter of timing.

It had taken weeks for the thought to slip into his head.  Even a bird brain notices when the local fisherman appear there is a free meal to be had.  He had not spent the days idly.  He would watch as every time a fisherman caught a large fish they placed it in one of the dirty white buckets of seawater that they brought to the beach.

Indeed, He soon noticed that they always carried at least two of these buckets.  One was for the “catch of the day” and the other was for the small yummy fish that where to be sacrificed in the name of dinner.

The ritual was always the same.  The human went into the water and filled up both buckets with seawater.  He then would take a small fishing net and, going knee-deep, cast it into the surf.  Soon he had these beautiful shiny small fish swimming in his bait bucket.

If, as a bird, you appeared too soon the fisherman would yell something incomprehensible at you and chase you away.  The trick was waiting till the human had already chosen his first sacrifice and gone into the surf to cast his reel.   Then, and only then, was it possible to get rock star seating at the bait bucket.

Now, the bird did not consider himself greedy.  He knew the odds of getting the main catch from the human were a great as being struck by lightning in a cloudless sky.  The human was still only a humble 20 yards away in the surf casting his latest bait into the deeper water in hopes of catching a larger fish. Far enough away to be safe, but close enough to be a problem.

He also knew that the fish the human was trying to catch would be way larger than his small sharp beak would be able to swallow, but the bait… Ahh, That as the humans say, “Was punching the meal ticket.”

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