Connect with us
background

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

World Wildlife Day: incredible UK sea life in pictures

Published

on

Today is World Wildlife Day. The Marine Conservation Society have compiled incredible underwater photography from UK seas, showcasing how special our wildlife is.

Seasoned underwater photographers share how they captured amazing scenes of UK wildlife; get inspired to dive in yourself. While the images below show the colourful and curious world under the surface of the UK’s seas, these fragile ecosystems are in urgent need of protection and restoration. Without a healthy ocean, we cannot have a healthy planet.  

To learn more about the Marine Conservation Society’s work, and how to get involved with the Seasearch project, please visit the charity’s website: Marine Conservation Society | Home (mcsuk.org)  

  • Compass jellyfish, Falmouth, Cornwall by Martin Stevens - “The jellyfish is a compass jellyfish, smaller individual from Falmouth, Cornwall in springtime. A nice encounter with a great species, locally. Taken under overcast skies, moody weather, one of the first compass jellyfish of the year.”

  • Variable blenny, Babbacombe, south Devon by Dan Bolt - “The variable blenny is a relative newcomer to UK waters, arriving from the Mediterranean as a summer visitor some years ago, but is now firmly established in Babbacombe all year round. As their name suggests they are variable in colour, not only between male and female, but also when either mating or looking after a clutch of delicate eggs for weeks at a time.”

  • Firework anemone (Pachycerianthus multiplicatus), Inverary, Loch Fyne by Dan Bolt - “As the UK’s biggest anemone, the Firework anemone can have a stalk and tentacles of up to 30cm long. Usually restricted to deeper waters, in many western Sea Lochs in Scotland they are accessible to sport divers. These beautiful creatures also have a party trick: under UV light they fluoresce and emit blue and green light and display patterns not seen under daylight.”

  • Edible crab, Ar. Abbs, Berwickshire marine reserve by Georgie Bull - “Over the summer I visited St. Abbs and was blown away by how many crabs and lobsters there were. The Berwickshire Marine Reserve is a very special place to dive because it is a voluntary no-take zone. Many of the marine animals here have no need to fear divers and exist in higher numbers than outside of the reserve.”

  • John Dory, Dorset by Georgie Bull - “I have always had a soft spot for John Dory. When I first started diving in Dorset, we were gifted with many summer nights full of John Dory. I hadn't seen one for years, but this summer they returned in good number, and I spent a good 10 minutes with this individual who was very keen to check themselves out in the reflection of my dome lens.”

  • Hermit crab and other molluscs on kelp, Shetland by Kirsty Andrews - “The closer you look, the more you see.  I was drawn to this tiny but colourful hermit crab on a piece of kelp in the shallows in Shetland, but I didn't appreciate until I looked closer that its shell was in turn covered in life, such as lampshells, pink encrusting algae and at the very top, a topshell.  Quite the vibrant community.”

  • Pair of wolf fish, Berwickshire marine reserve by Kirsty Andrews - “The Berwickshire marine reserve on the Scottish borders is the most reliable spot for UK divers to see charismatic wolf fish in their rocky lairs.  They usually live singly but on one September trip, I spotted five separate pairs huddled together in different rocky hollows.  Clearly, love is in the air for wolffish in the Autumn.”

  • Facelina auriculata, Lunna, Shetland Islands by Billy Arthur - “An absolute stunner of a nudibranch (sea slug)! Not as common as some of the other species we find here in Shetland, which makes them even more special. Caught by the sun's rays they almost seem to sparkle. It's amazing that such tiny, delicate creatures can survive in the wild seas around Shetlands coastline. Our kelp forests around Scotland are rich with life, the biodiversity in these forests is breath-taking and we need to protect them!”

  • Painted top-shell, Boddam, Shetland Islands by Billy Arthur - “One of the prettiest molluscs we find up here on the Shetland islands. This one looks to be feeding on a sea-mat which is a type of bryozoan which encrusts kelp fronds. Their stunning shells, which swash up on our beaches, are a prized find for beach combers, but they are much more stunning when alive. If you look closely, you can see its eye poking out from under the shell.”

  • Common Sunstar, Levenwick, Shetland Islands by Billy Arthur - “Typical rocky Shetland reef capped with a beautiful forest of kelp. This large common sunstar seemed to be making its way up into the kelp forest, likely in search of food. A beautiful starfish but also a voracious predator and scavenger. Once their prey has been caught by one of its many arms, they extrude their stomach out of their mouth and partially digest the meal, a gruesome end.”

  • Curled octopus, Toft pier, Shetland Islands by Billy Arthur - “Instantly a great dive when an octopus encounter is involved! Being quite sheltered and having lots of prey available for them, this site is a hotspot for curled octopus. It was already watching me when I finally noticed its presence, which is nearly always the case with these masters of camouflage. The plumose anemones which carpet the seabed in patches make it a very special place.”

  • Basking Shark, Isle of Coll by Mark Kirkland - “Through late summer the basking shark passes though the Isles of Coll and Tiree in huge numbers on its migratory journey north. Despite being the second largest fish in the sea (up to nine meters long) and a close relative to the great white shark, it's completely harmless, with a preference for microscopic plankton as it's food. This split shot was taken on a glorious evening's snorkel with three large individuals.”

  • Bobtail Squid, Loch Long by Mark Kirkland - “As winter creeps in, the tiny Bobtail Squid rises from the depths of the sealochs to breed. Through September and October, they can be found in depths as shallow as ten metres. Often no larger than a golf ball, a macro lens is preferable to get the glorious and colourful details. This shot shows an eye and siphon.”

  • Anglerfish, Lophius Piscatorius, Chesil Cove, Dorset by Jon Bunker - “Among the most beautiful of our ground-dwelling fishes, the angler fish's mottled brown tones and leafy protrusions of skin make it almost undistinguishable from the rocky, weed strewn ground that divers often encounter them in. Broad circular pectoral fins seem to grip the seabed like clasping hands on either side of the massive, dustbin-lid head. Ahead of a decreasing series of weed-like dorsal spines, the anglerfish wafts its distinctive lure or ‘illicium’ to entice unwary prey into its cavernous mouth.”

Team Scubaverse manages the Scubaverse website

Blogs

Diving with Frogfish in Costa Rica: A Hidden Gem Underwater

Published

on

frogfish

In the vast and vibrant underwater world of Costa Rica, there’s a peculiar creature that often goes unnoticed but holds a special place in the hearts of divers: the frogfish. This enigmatic and somewhat odd-looking species is a master of camouflage and a marvel of marine life. Diving with frogfish in Costa Rica is not just a dive; it’s an adventurous treasure hunt that rewards the patient and observant with unforgettable encounters. Let’s dive into the world of frogfish and discover what makes these creatures so fascinating and where you can find them in Costa Rica.

The Mystique of Frogfish

Frogfish belong to the family Antennariidae, a group of marine fish known for their incredible ability to blend into their surroundings. They can be found in a variety of colors, including yellow, pink, red, green, black, and white, and they often have unique spots and textures that mimic the coral and sponges around them. This camouflage isn’t just for show; it’s a critical survival tactic that helps them ambush prey and avoid predators.

One of the most remarkable features of the frogfish is its modified dorsal fin, which has evolved into a luring appendage called an esca. The frogfish uses this esca to mimic prey, such as small fish or crustaceans, enticing unsuspecting victims close enough to be engulfed by its surprisingly large mouth in a fraction of a second. This method of hunting is a fascinating spectacle that few divers forget once witnessed.

Where to Find Frogfish in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is dotted with dive sites that offer the chance to encounter these intriguing creatures. Bat Islands (Islas Murciélagos), Catalina Islands (Islas Catalinas), and the area around the Gulf of Papagayo are renowned for their rich marine life, including frogfish. These sites vary in depth and conditions, catering to both novice and experienced divers.

The key to spotting frogfish is to dive with a knowledgeable guide who can point out these master camouflagers hiding in plain sight. They’re often found perched on rocky outcroppings, nestled within coral, or even hiding among debris, perfectly mimicking their surroundings.

frogfish

Diving Tips for Spotting Frogfish

Go Slow: The secret to spotting frogfish is to move slowly and scan carefully. Their camouflage is so effective that they can be right in front of you without being noticed.

Look for Details: Pay attention to the small details. A slightly different texture or an out-of-place color can be the clue you need.

Dive with Local Experts: Local dive guides have an eagle eye for spotting wildlife, including frogfish. Their expertise can significantly increase your chances of an encounter.

Practice Buoyancy Control: Good buoyancy control is essential not just for safety and coral preservation but also for getting a closer look without disturbing these delicate creatures.

Be Patient: Patience is key. Frogfish aren’t known for their speed, and sometimes staying in one spot and observing can yield the best sightings.

Conservation and Respect

While the excitement of spotting a frogfish can be thrilling, it’s crucial to approach all marine life with respect and care. Maintain a safe distance, resist the urge to touch or provoke, and take only photos, leaving behind nothing but bubbles. Remember, the health of the reef and its inhabitants ensures future divers can enjoy these incredible encounters as much as you do.

Join the Adventure

Diving with frogfish in Costa Rica is just one of the many underwater adventures that await in this biodiverse paradise. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or taking your first plunge, the waters here offer an unparalleled experience filled with wonders at every turn. Beyond the thrill of the hunt for frogfish, you’ll be treated to a world teeming with incredible marine life, majestic rays, playful dolphins, and so much more.

So, gear up, dive in, and let the mysteries of Costa Rica’s underwater realm unfold before your eyes. With every dive, you’re not just exploring the ocean; you’re embarking on an adventure that highlights the beauty, complexity, and fragility of our marine ecosystems. And who knows? Your next dive might just be the one where you come face-to-face with the elusive and captivating frogfish. Join us at Rocket Frog Divers for the dive of a lifetime, where the marvels of the ocean are waiting to be discovered.

About the Author: Jonathan Rowe

Are you looking to make a splash online? As a seasoned diver and digital marketer, I specialize in crafting bespoke websites and innovative marketing strategies for dive shops worldwide. With my expertise, your business will not only be seen but also remembered.

From deep-sea to digital depths, I navigate the complex waters of web development and online marketing, ensuring your dive shop stands out in the vast ocean of the internet. Contact Scuba Dive Marketing for more information.

Continue Reading

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Creature Feature: Swell Sharks

Published

on

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.

This month we’re taking a look at some truly swell sharks, the Swell Sharks!

Swell Sharks are a group of catsharks belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. Their most unique feature is probably their threat response: they are able to expand their bodies to twice their normal size by swallowing water! This wedges them into their hiding spot, making it more difficult for predators to bite them from inside.

There are 18 different species of swell shark. In this article, we will focus on two of them, the Swell Shark (Cephaloscyllium ventriosum) and the Australian Swell Shark (Cephaloscyllium laticeps).

The Swell Shark (Cephaloscyllium ventriosum)

Biofluorescence

In 2019, scientists discovered the molecules responsible for a special ability of the swell shark – their biofluorescence. In the dark, special amino acids in their skin reflect the moonlight, appearing bright green in the darkness. This has been found to be species specific, and sex specific, and therefore this unique adaptation may function to help sharks species recognise each other or even potential mates. It may also play a role in camouflage.

Australian Swellshark, Cephaloscyllium laticeps

The Australian Swellshark is also sometimes known as the Draughtboard Shark due to its colouration: It has 11 brown ‘saddles’ that alternate with blotches on its flanks, forming a pattern resembling that of a checkerboard.

Oviparity

Like many other species of Swell Shark, the Australian Swellshark is oviparous. This means that the adult swell shark lays an eggcase with the embryo inside. Depending on the species, the shark may lay two at a time. These eggcases contain a developing embryo and a yolk. Before hatching, the embryo can feed on this yolk for sustenance as it grows. Once fully developed, the embryo hatches out as a fully formed miniature version of the adult shark.

Australian Swell Sharks have a particularly interesting eggcase: cream-coloured and flask shaped, this eggcase has 19-27 transverse ridges (lined horizontally across the eggcase). As with most catsharks, there are long curly tendrils on either end too.

Status

Although the Swell Shark is listed as Least Concern globally on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, some species of are listed as Critically Endangered. Take, for instance, the Whitefin Swellshark, endemic to southeastern Australia. Much of its habitat overlaps with areas of intensive fishing effort – as such, although not a target species, they were and still are frequently caught as bycatch. According to the IUCN, populations have reduced by >80% over the past three generations,

Scientific Name: Cephaloscyllium ventriosum

Family: Scyliorhinidae

Maximum Size: 110cm

DietSmall crustaceans, cephalopods and fish

Distribution: Eastern Pacific, most commonly found at 5m to 40m depth.

Habitat: Usually found in rocky areas of kelp beds.

Conservation Status: They’re not typically targeted for food as their meat is generally considered to be of poor quality. They are however, often caught as bycatch in gillnets and trawls.

IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern

For more great shark information and conservation visit the Shark Trust Website


Image Credits:

biofluorescence (Sparks, J. S.; Schelly, R. C.; Smith, W. L.; Davis, M. P.; Tchernov, D.; Pieribone, V. A.; Gruber, D. F., CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

laticeps (Mark Norman / Museum Victoria, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Eggcase 1 ‘Cephaolscyllium ventriosum’ (vagabondvince310, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Eggcase 2 ‘Cephaloscyllium laticeps eggcase’ (Museum Victoria, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Experience the Red Sea in May with Bella Eriny Liveaboard! As the weather warms up, there’s no better time to dive into the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea. Join us on Bella Eriny, your premier choice for Red Sea liveaboards, this May for an unforgettable underwater adventure. Explore vibrant marine life and stunning coral reefs Enjoy comfortable accommodation in our spacious cabins Savor delicious meals prepared by our onboard chef Benefit from the expertise of our professional dive guides Visit our website for more information and to secure your spot: www.scubatravel.com/BellaEriny or call 01483 411590 More Less

Instagram Feed

Popular