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Blackcap Basslet: A Comely Deepwater Cousin to the Royal Gramma

Blackcap basslet (Gramma melacara)Most marine aquarium hobbyists are well acquainted with the royal gramma (Gramma loreto), a worthy tank inhabitant by virtually any measure. But G. loreto isn’t the only member of the Gramma genus that is well worth its salt. Another is the blackcap basslet (Gramma melacara), a denizen of the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean Sea that is most abundant in deeper waters. Physical traitsG. melacara is very similar in body plan to the royal gramma, one noteworthy difference being its more deeply bifurcated caudal fin. It is purple in overall coloration with, as its common name implies, a diagonal black “cap” extending from the mouth, over the top of the head, and along the margin of the dorsal fin. Several thin white lines radiate backward from the eye MORE

MASNA Aquarist of the Year 2015 is Awarded to Terry Siegel

TS1Hot off the press, MASNA announced the 2015 winner of their Aquarist of the Year award, and it goes to our friend Terry Siegel.  Terry has been a long time aquarist and teacher of reef science through his work with The Marine Aquarist, Aquarium Frontiers, Reefs.org, and Advanced Aquarist.  We’re delighted that Terry has been honored with this award and are looking forward to the presentation of the award at the MACNA banquet in Washington DC on Saturday Night.  Congrats Terry!

Write-Up Wednesday: Orchid Dottiback

When I give presentations on fish selection and I mention Dottibacks, someone in the audience always blurts out, “devil fish!” For some dottibacks, yes. For the orchid dottiback, no. Orchid-Dottyback_big_color The orchid dottiback (Pseudochromis fridmani) is not only the most docile species in the genus, but is also one of the most striking. Its body is solid bright purple with a black streak though the eye and head. Under royal blue LEDs, the fish will glow as if radioactive. MORE

Reefs.com at MACNA 2015

macna-2015-floorplan-reefs-blogSo we’re en route to MACNA, doing our best to not get Sanjay-ed, and we obviously brought the whole suitcase of fun activities and antics we’re known for.  This year’s floorplan is HUGE, and since we’re not all in the same room you may have to look around to find us.  You can visit our lounge by heading to the Hawkfish logo on the map above.  We’ll be waiting for you with comfortable seating, snacks, children’s activities, video games, and FREE BEER.  So come by, relax, and take a break from the madness that is MACNA.  If you get lost, find the Hospitality Lounge on the map.

Sponge Face


Good morning friends, I found a beautiful Azure Vase Sponge on the island of Klein Curacao that reminded me of the Cookie Monster, one of Sesame Street’s all-time greatest characters. As many of you already know, I love finding faces in nature, especially if they are underwater! Aimee and I have searched for years for fun faces but they are very hard to find making the quest that much more difficult. A few years back I had a photo assignment involving faces around the home and ended up selling a picture of a shoe that looked like a face to National Geographic Kids magazine, do any of you remember that one?? I am still looking for these types of photos so if you find something around the house, please let me know. We have a lot going on today, I have to get ready to splash…  MORE

Tiny Dancer – Crustacean Named After Elton John

Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man and Crocodile Rock are among the many hits by rock legend Sir Elton John.  Now, the music superstar can add to his list of accomplishments with the naming of a crustecean in his honor! An amphipod was recently discovered in the coral reefs of Raja Ampat,Indonesia but may also be found other south pacific reefs. The shrimp-like crustacean creature has been named Leucothoe eltoni, after the famous rocker.829eltonjohnMORE

Our coal powered reefs?

35000-walruses-are-all-crowded-together-in-one-spot--and-it-signals-something-ominousRight now 35,000 walruses are mobbed together on the Alaskan coast, an unusual occurrence. From the air it looks like a massive walrus protest, with tens of thousands of animals huddled together. Why would walruses pact together in such numbers? The answer, because the ice that they rely on has totally disappeared. Unlike seals (who can swim indefinitely) after a day of hunting, walruses need a place to plant their tusks and rest. Walruses in the Bering Sea usually rest on ice flows, which in the past, have been plentiful in both summer and winter. With rising global temperatures, artic sea ice has diminished, leaving the walruses no choice but to congregate on the Alaskan coast, just north of Point Lay. The melted artic sea ice presents a wide range of problems for the walruses, from access to food, ease of diving, on up to rearing young. This comes at a time when three category four hurricanes touched down in the Pacific Ocean. It’s a strikingly rare meteorological event, and experts blame warmer than average sea temperatures for the massive storms. These hurricanes come on the heels of what has already been a devastating hurricane season. The climate is changing, yet you may be wondering, what in the heck does that have to do with my aquarium?  MORE

Smithsonian Explores Klein Curacao

Good morning friends, how was your weekend out there?? We have been super busy here playing with the folks from the world-famous Smithsonian Institute. Last Wednesday, we took load after load of supplies to the Chapman (our research vessel) and getting ready to set sail for the remote island of Klein Curacao early Thursday morning. The photo above shows our 2.5 million dollar mini submersible named the “Curasub” on the back of  the Chapman, heading out to sea on the way to Klein Curacao. 

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The Chapman

 The photo to the left shows the Chapman anchored at Klein Curacao; this killer  shot was taken by our sub pilot Barbara, who has a mini-drone and boy does she know how to use it!  MORE


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