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Divers and Giant Sea Fan

Good morning one and all! Since last Thursday afternoon, I have pretty much been diving with our two guests Karen and Alan non stop and it has been a blast!! I shot this photo of our two new divers holding hands drifting over a giant sea-fan in front of the Sea Aquarium at Shipwreck Point at around 35 feet. Today they took a break from diving and took off to the west end of the island to climb to the top of Mount Christoffel, hike Boka Tabla and visit as many beaches as possible before dark, I am sure they will be wiped out tonight but with smiles plastered to their faces! We had some great night dives this weekend and saw three beautiful octopus on one dive alone and filmed them all using my new GoPro-4 attached to my sexy looking Ikelite tray and Vega strobes
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Ricordea Florida: an Underappreciated Caribbean Beauty

A group of Ricordea florida

 As an American reefkeeper, it’s all too easy for me to forget that some truly gorgeous invertebrate livestock originates relatively close to home in the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean. I was reminded of this recently when CC entrusted several of his Caribbean specimens to my care in advance of his pending move to the great state of Florida. By the way, if you “felt a great disturbance in the force” some weeks back, it had nothing to do with the destruction of Alderaan. More likely, it was just Chris’s head exploding at the thought of his prized Caribbean species intermingling with my lowly Indo-Pacific corals and fish. Did I ever mention that CC is a terrible “species-ist”? Anyway, among this adopted assortment are several color varieties of Ricordea florida. Now, prior to receiving these specimens, it had been a long time since I’d given much thought to rics, and I’d forgotten how truly stunning these humble corallimorphs can be, so it was really nice to get reacquainted with them. They’re also fairly rugged, so whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced hobbyist, R MORE

The ocean moon Europa

europa_has_life_final_by_deimossaturnIn 2014 Russian cosmonauts discovered sea plankton living on the International Space Station (ISS). While there isn’t an official consensus on how they got there, most scientists believe that uplifting air currents on Earth pushed the plankton into space. To the surprise of the cosmonauts, and the international scientific community, the plankton survived and was able to colonize visually sensitive areas of the ISS. The discovery has led to all sorts of theories, with some reaching into the realm of science fiction. Could animals within Earth’s oceans have descended from outer space? Could a meteor or comet carry planktonic life that then adapts to Earth’s oceans and forms a species hierarchy? For the most part, these questions remain unanswered and the sea life we have documented and studied all has terrestrial origins, having evolved and developed right here on Earth. Yet the fact remains, where there is liquid water, there is life. Staring out into the vast solar system, there is one place where a massive liquid ocean could churn beneath an icy crust, Jupiter’s infamous moon Europa.  MORE

The long-nosed butterflies part 1: Chelmon and Chelmonops

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Biogeography of Chelmon and its sister genus Chelmonops. The two genera display a distirbution encompassing the four biogeographic regions of Australia, namely the Dampierian, Solanderian, Peronian and Flindersian regions, which, in a clockwise direction starting from the Torres Strait, make up the four coastal quadrants of this continent. Photo credit: Phillip Colla, digital-reefs, Michael Moye, Brian Mayes and John Randall.

 The extremely diverse Chaetodontidae is home to a plethora of butterflyfish species, of which, a large majority are charismatic, colorful, iconic piscines that are largely coral reef associated. The family houses ten or so genera, and, despite being one of the most well studied groups of fish (having even received an extensive molecular based phylogenetic review), remains plagued with several taxonomic conundrums and inconsistencies. For one, the genus Parachaetodon is shown to be nestled within Chaetodon, and so the former genus ought to be relegated as defunct. However, the species, Parachaetodon ocellatus, cannot retain its specific epithet in Chaetodon, as Chaetodon ocellatus is already taken by an Atlantic species prior to this change in name. It thus takes the next available name – oligacanthus. Despite having strong genetic and molecular support in the transfer and renaming, the move is still not widely accepted by the general populace, and so the species now masquerades under two different aliases – Parachaetodon ocellatus and Chaetodon oligacanthus. This, depending on your taxonomic stand, leaves Chaetodontidae with either ten or eleven genera. MORE

The Evolution and Biogeography of Pseudojuloides: Part 1

The rarely seen P. xanthorum from Mauritius. Credit: Lemon Tea Yi Kai

The rarely seen P. xanthorum from Mauritius. Credit: Lemon Tea Yi Kai

 The slender and elegant Pseudojuloides wrasses represent some of the most colorful and sought after species in the reef aquarium hobby, but, despite their enduring popularity, the numerous described species and undescribed regional variants are poorly known fishes. Their interesting biogeographic distribution patterns provide a fascinating glimpse into the process of speciation in coral reef fishes. At an extreme, one lineage—formerly treated as a single widespread Indo-Pacific species—is now thought to be a complex of discrete regional forms, with perhaps as many as eight unique “species” comprising the group. How these varieties initially formed and what keeps them distinct from each other are fascinating questions for the intrepid student of evolutionary biology. To understand how best to conserve the full diversity of coral reef habitats, we first have to understand how such populations are interacting and, ultimately, answer one of the most vexing and ambiguous questions in all of biology—What is a species?MORE

National Geographic’s 2015 Photo Roundup

Taken at Jellyfish Lake - a marine lake located in Eil Malk, which is part of Palau's famous Rock Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These jellyfish populated marine basins thousands of years ago through rock fissures and gradually became isolated in an environment devoid of predators.  In the absence of predators, these jellyfish evolved into having substantially less stinging cells.
National Geographic Magazine has just released its “Photo of the Day” roundup for 2015.  The stunning images were captured by the magazine’s “Your Shot” online photo community and by staff photographers, and showcase the beauty and splendor of our natural world.  The picture above is particularly captivating; it was taken by Ciemon Frank Caballes at Jellyfish Lake – a marine lake located in Eil Malk, which is part of Palau’s famous Rock Islands , a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Western Pacific. The lake is home to rare golden jellyfish which are harmless to humans and spend much of their lives following the sun as it makes its daily progress across the sky. These jellyfish populated marine basins thousands of years ago through rock fissures and gradually became isolated in an environment devoid of predators. In the absence of predators, these jellyfish evolved into having substantially less stinging cells. MORE

Rare and beautiful Pterogobius from Japan

M-1302-chagara There’s something about the waters of the Pacific Northwest that seems to encourage the creation of unusually beautiful species. Centropyge interruptaCirrhilabrus lanceolatusTosanoides flavofasciatus… It’s as if the reefs of Japan are showing off to the rest of the Indo-Pacific, making it known that none can rival their pulchritudinous piscines. Which brings me to Pterogobius, a genus of goby-like fishes found only in these waters. Though they are often amongst the most numerically abundant of fishes in their natural habitat, within the aquarium hobby these are as rare as they are beautiful.MORE

Our Holiday Sale Is Happening Now

As a thank you to our readers for another great year, Jeff and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to offer a holiday sale to the Saltwater Smarts community. From now until the end of the year, use the promo codes below to receive $5 off on the eBook or print versions of The Salt Smart Guide to Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Diseases of Marine Fishes and The Avant-Garde Marine Aquarist: A 60-Year History of Fishkeeping. (That’s the largest discount we’ve ever offered on the the eBook versions – a 30% discount.) Take $5 off either eBook: salty2015  Take $5 off the print version of Diseases of Marine Fishes: BFZZ8WWQ  Take $5 off the print version of The Avant-Garde Marine Aquarist: PQ3FQCPM  This opportunity to add to your aquarium library and save ends with 2015, so make sure to take advantage of it before 12/31/15 at 11:59pm (EST). Related posts:Share this: MORE


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