Marine Life & Conservation Blogs
Mermaid Minute #4: The Remora Fish, a.k.a. Sucker Fish (Watch Video)
In this new series on Scubaverse.com we are sharing Linden Wolbert’s video series ‘Mermaid Minute’.
The “Mermaid Minute” is an ocean educational web series for children. Each action-packed episode explores one subject, creature or habitat about our oceans for 60 seconds.
Professional Mermaid Linden Wolbert is a real mermaid whose passion is educating children about the wonders of our oceans, swimming safety and ocean conservation as well as exploration and inspiring our world’s youngest ocean ambassadors.
This is Episode #4 of the Mermaid Minute, the only ocean education web series hosted by a mermaid!
Also known as the “Sucker Fish,” Remoras attach themselves to larger fish and animals with a suction-cup like organ on the top of their heads! The first time I saw a remora, I thought it was a fish that an astronaut had stepped on! Look at the resemblance to a footprint on the moon! Remora fish can usually be seen hitching a ride on dolphins, whales, sea turtles and manta rays. This means they are protected from other predators and get to eat lots of scraps that fall behind after their host has eaten a meal. With their flat head, the remora kind of look like they’re swimming upside-down. Silly little fish! Hundreds of years ago, it was believed that if a remora stuck onto your boat, it was bad luck- and it would no longer sail. One time when I was swimming in the Caribbean, a Remora tried to stick onto my tail! He was so cute, that I named him Romeo Remora!
See and learn more about Mermaid Linden here: www.mermaidsinmotion.com
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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs
Creature Feature: Goblin Shark
In this series, the Shark Trust will be sharing amazing facts about different species of sharks and what you can do to help protect them.
Written by guest contributor – Yolanda Evans.
Mysteriously slithering around the dark mesopelagic of the western Pacific, the glorious Goblin shark swims in search for their next meal. This illusive shark is one of the most unique-looking sharks to ever exist, having a long snout called a rostrum and protrusible jaws, hailing them their common name, Goblin. Their rostrum is covered with small pores called the ampullae of Lorenzini, jelly-filled pores in the snouts of many sharks that are able to pick up changes in the electro-magnetic field, for example the muscle contractions of nearby fish. However, these pores can only detect movement only a few inches in front of the shark!
In addition to their rostrum, these sharks poses and amazing ability to protrude their jaws out or their cartilaginous skull by something called slingshot feeding. This is when the jaws are shot forward, extending 8.6-9.4% of the Goblin sharks total body length. However, this fast jaw action also creates a powerful suction-known as a pharyngeal suction-forcing their prey deeper into their mouths.
While many sharks range from greys to blues to browns, this stupendous shark can be a very pale pink! However, this unusual colour is not from a pigment in their skin, but from the thinness of their skin! Their skin has such a great transparency that the oxygenated blood that flows in their capillaries-tiny blood vessels-causes what would be their grey skin, to become pink. This amazing ability might actually been an adaptation for the shark, they live 270m-1300 m deep, red light wavelengths cannot be seen, making the spectacular shark near invisible to both prey and predators!
Their scientific name, Mitsukurina owstoni, comes from the British naturalist Alan Owston who is credited with discovering the shark, and from Kakichi Mitsuriki, the Japanese scientist who identified and described the shark. While the English common name is only from their long rostrum, the direst translation into Japanese is Tengu-zame, base of the Tengu, a Japanese mythological half-man-half-bird who had red skin and a long nose, a comparison more fitting.
Despite their somewhat intimidating appearance, the Goblin shark is not an aggressive species, predating on mainly small bony fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods. Long slender teeth that protrude out from their jaws, appearing almost like blades, are perfect for clutching onto their prey. Nonetheless, the most threat they create towards humans is disrupting our internet as they are known to bite down onto submarine cables!
Like many other shark species, Goblin sharks main threat is by-catch from deep-sea longlining and deep-sea trawling. They are listed by the IUCN as least concern. Unfortunately, being relatively understudied, this may be incorrect as there is a very minimal amount of knowledge about the lives of these sharks. Leaving the question: what else is there to know about the truly incredible Goblin shark?
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Mitsukurina owstoni
MAXIMUM SIZE: Up to 3.8 meters (12.5 feet) in length
DIET: Feeds primarily on deep-sea fish, but also crustaceans and cephalopods
DISTRIBUTION: Goblin Sharks have a wide but patchy distribution, found in deep waters of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans.
HABITAT: Primarily found in the deep sea, typically between 200 and 1,200 meters (656 and 3,937 feet) in depth. They are occasionally seen at shallower depths, but are typically associated with steep slopes and canyons on the continental shelf and slope.
Due to their deep-sea habitat and elusive nature, they are rarely encountered and little is known about their population trends. However, they are sometimes caught as bycatch in deepwater fisheries, and there is concern over the potential impacts of deep-sea mining activities on their habitat.
Images – www.fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3254 | Wikimedia Commons
Marine Life & Conservation Blogs
Creature Feature – Megamouth Shark
A rare and mysterious species, the Megamouth Shark Megachasma pelagios was first sighted when one had gotten entangled in a sea anchor (Oceana, 2023), and hauled up by fishermen on-board a navy ship in 1976 (Black, 2014). The Megamouth Shark is distributed worldwide in tropical to temperate latitudes, can be found in costal to open ocean (epipelagic to bathypelagic), and is a filter feeder, like that of the Whale, and Basking Shark (Oceana, 2023).
Upon its first discovery, this genus of shark generated its own taxonomy, Order Lamniformes (mackerel sharks), and belongs to the family Megachasmidae (megamouth sharks) (Oceana, 2023). Currently this shark is listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List, with the most recent assessment of species health being in 2018 (IUCN Red List, 2023). The Megamouth Shark can be found resident in countries such as Australia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, South Africa, and China, with the current population number of sharks being unknown due to their rare sightings, and lack of research (IUCN Red List, 2023).
A large species of shark, reaching weights of up to 2700 pounds (1215kg), and approximately 16 feet in length (5m), this species has only been observed within the wild a few times, with less than 60 individual sharks having been known by scientists to of ever been captured or observed (Oceana, 2023). The smallest of the three species of filter-feeding sharks, this shark derived its name from its remarkably large, circular mouth (Oceana, 2023). From what little research has been carried out on the species, from the rare few sightings these sharks have been observed residing near to the surface, in depths of up to 15,000 feet (4600m) (Oceana, 2023).
It is believed that Megamouth sharks only come near to the surface at night, spending the majority of their lives in the dark (Oceana, 2023). They are filter feeders that swim through the ocean with their mouths open capturing food resources, such as plankton (Oceana, 2023). The inside of their mouths contain light producing organs, believed to be used for attracting pelagic crustaceans and other prey (Oceana, 2023).
With commercial fisheries pushing to deeper depths to discover new species to market as food, more and more large deep sea creatures are being discovered (Oceana, 2023). Like other species of shark, megamouths mate via internal fertilization, giving birth to a small number of live young (Oceana, 2023). The adult shark does not connect to their live young through a placenta, and instead the mother provides an unfertilized egg during gestation (Oceana, 2023). Once born, the megamouth shark immediately becomes a filter feeder (Oceana, 2023). There is a huge lack in species behavioral ecology, and richness, and so electronic tagging studies and further research is needed in order to better understand, and to conserve this species (Watanabe & Papastamatiou, 2019).
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Megachasma pelagios
MAXIMUM SIZE: Up to 5.5 meters (18 feet) in length
DIET: Filter feeds for plankton, but also consumes deep water fish
DISTRIBUTION: Widespread distribution in tropical and temperate waters worldwide
HABITAT: Ocean-going. Surface to deep waters – 1,000m.
Due to its elusive nature and rare sightings, little is known about its population size or trends. It is occasionally caught as bycatch in fishing gear, but there are no known directed fisheries for this species.
Banner image – Wikimedia Commons | GordonMakryllos
- Black, R. (2014) A forgotten fossil megamouth gets a name. National Geographic. Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/a-forgotten-fossil-megamouth-gets-a-name. Accessed: 21st March 2023.
- IUCN Red List. (2023) Megamouth Shark. IUCN Red List. Available: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/39338/124402302#taxonomy. Accessed: 21st March 2023.
- (2023) Megamouth Shark. Oceana. Available at: https://oceana.org/marine-life/megamouth-shark/. Accessed: 21st February 2023.
- Watanabe, YY, Papastamatiou, YP. (2019) Distribution, body size and biology of the megamouth shark Megachasma pelagios. J Fish Biol. 95: 992– 998. https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.14007
This month’s Creature Feature has a guest writer – Jodie Moore
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