The mysterious Greenland Shark, Arctic Zone.

shark_loresThey can be as big as great white sharks, but that’s about as far as the comparison goes.
Their maximum speed is a lethargic 1.7 miles per hour, many are almost blind, and they are happy to eat rotting carcasses.
They may be common throughout the ocean, but you’ve probably never heard of them. Meet the Greenland shark.
Looking like nothing so much as a chunk of weather-beaten rock, Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus) can grow up to 7.3 metres (24 feet) long, making them one of the largest of all fish, and the biggest in the Arctic.
But they prefer to live in deep, cold water, so humans rarely see them.
Studies in the Arctic have revealed a few snippets of information about Greenland sharks, and more data is now starting to come in from elsewhere.
It turns out that Greenland sharks are bizarre, and may be crucially important for the ocean ecosystem.
Greenland sharks only come close to the surface in places where the shallow water is frigid enough for them – primarily in the Arctic.
Read on via BBC – Earth – Mysterious giant sharks may be everywhere.

The Elaborate Fins of the Ribbonfish.

ribbonfish

Fins with transparent membranes give the ribbonfish its name. Image Credit: Joshua Lambus.
Up to 2m long the ribbonfish is an elegant deep-sea creature.
Named for the elaborate fins that ripple delicately after them as they swim, ribbonfish from the genus Trachipterus are found all over the world.
There are six known species, and Australia’s is the southern ribbonfish, a 2m-long silvery creature with black polka dots on its sides and bright red fins.
Found off the coast of southern Queensland and South Australia, the southern ribbonfish has also set up a population off the coast of South Africa.
This fish is pretty much a taxonomic nightmare, because while it’s certainly a single species, according to the Australian Museum no one can decide whether its correct scientific name is T. jacksonensis or T. arawatae.
Read more via Ribbonfish elaborate fins – Australian Geographic.

How the Poisonous Stone Fish Kills Humans.

Stone_Fish_at_AQWA_SMC2006
The stone fish is the most poisonous fish in the sea and one of the most dangerous in the world.
It can easily kill you if you step on it, injecting its venom deep inside your foot.
If not treated promptly, the poison will kill you.
If you are in Australia, watch out for these fellows.
They would be underwater, hiding under the sand or camouflaged over rocks, but also outside water, where they can survive for 24 hours.
Apparently, stone fish antivenom is the second-most administered in Australia.
Read on via How the most poisonous fish on Earth can kill humans.

The beautiful Achilles Tang.

achilles-tang-line-islands_82424_990x742

Achilles Tang – Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic
In other places around the world, coral has been decimated by bleaching and disease, but the southern Line Islands’ reefs retain their resilience.
Scientists believe the key to coral health is intact ecosystems, where all the native species—including planktivores such as the vividly marked Achilles tang seen here—play their part.
The Achilles tang is one of the most spectacular fish available for the aquarium, but it is also one of the most difficult to keep.
This fish swims continuously, and usually at a very high speed, so it requires a large tank with plenty of open space.
It also requires fairly turbulent water movement.
When kept in conditions of less-than-ideal water movement and/or in too small a tank, this fish will be very nervous, usually not feed, and wither and die fairly quickly.
It is usually fairly expensive, so this may help prevent hobbyists with less-than-ideal conditions from keeping this fish.
via Achilles Tang Picture — Line Islands Photo — National Geographic Photo of the Day.

The Alfred Manta Ray.

alfred-manta-feeding-gary-cranitch-data
The Alfred Manta, (Manta alfredi), one of the largest rays on the planet, is currently listed as vulnerable in eastern Australian waters with recorded individuals numbering in the few hundred.
Gary Cranitch’s awe-inspiring image is an important reminder that we still have much to do to ensure the survival of this beautiful species.
Photo: (Queensland Museum: Gary Cranitch)
Source: Spectacular science photos nominated for 2014 Eureka Prize – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

“The Red Handfish.”

red-handfish-Thymichthys-politus
THIS IS ONE fish that will always be caught red-handed. Ok, bad pun, but it is an interesting fish.
Endemic to Tasmania’s eastern coast, the red handfish is so named because of its apparent use of its fins as hands, even using a type of walking motion on the seafloor.
It’s a benthic fish, preferring to hang around the sandy and rocky bottoms of the seafloor. They’ve been observed eating small crustaceans and worms.
There are two colour varieties – one with red embellishments (seen in the image above) and the other a right red all over. It grows from about 6cm to about 13.5cm long.
The red handfish was first discovered in the 1800s around Port Arthur.
In the 1980s a small population was found on the Actaeon Islands, south of Hobart, and the biggest population to date was found on a reef off Primrose Sands around Hobart (10 individuals) in the 1990s.
However, in a survey in 2005, no handfish were found in those areas.
They may be hanging on, because in 2010, three individuals were found in the Primrose Sands location.
Though the species hasn’t had a full, systematic survey of its numbers, it seems that populations are few and far between, and there’s likely to be not more than 1000 individuals in the wild, and likely only hundreds.
The red handfish was known as the Brachionichthys politus, but in 2009, it was re-categorised as Thymichthys politus.
Threats to red handfish include poaching for use as pets. Its low reproductive rate and low dispersal rate make is a challenge for the species’ survival. Fragmentation of the populations is also a challenge for reproductive success.
via Red handfish Thymichthys politus – Australian Geographic.