Category Archives: Marine Invertebrates

Solstice photos

A Royal Palm in Hawaii

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Again the Solstice.’ See more responses here. I didn’t have any good ideas for illustrating the solstice so, instead, plumped for photos taken on the solstice.

The top photo, I’ve run before in 2019, but who doesn’t love a grumpy cat? The second photo, from 2021, is of a royal palm amongst other tropical foliage. These palms can grow to 70 feet tall and look very stately when planted in a row. This one was quite a bit smaller.

The bottom two photos show a Fiery Skipper butterfly on a Mesembryathemum flower in 2020, and a Pacific Day Octopus hunting in the company of a goatfish back in 2018.

A’ama Crab on a rock

An A'ama Crab by a pool in Hawaii
An A'ama Crab by a pool in Hawaii

The top photo looks like a regular shot of an a’ama crab on the edge of a tide pool with the ocean blurred in the background. But the second photo shows that the ‘tide pool’ is actually a depression in a large rock, one of several placed along the edge of a parking lot, to stop people driving into the ocean (yes, they would, in case you’re wondering.).

For some reason, this encounter reminded me of the incredible climbing ability of these crabs even though I often see them skittering up or down vertical walls, in rolling surf, when I get in the water.

Whitespotted Toby and urchin

A Whitespotted Toby and a sea urchin in Hawaii

The Hawaiian Whitespotted Toby is a small pufferfish that’s endemic to Hawaii. Like many small fish, and juveniles of larger fish, they will use the quills of sea urchins to shelter from predators. Not that tobies need too much help. When attacked they inflate themselves like a balloon, making them hard to swallow. In addition, this toby secretes a nasty skin toxin which will deter most predators.

Oddities in the water

A manta ray in the waters off Hawaii

Today marks the start of the last week of this month’s Becky’s Squares challenge theme of ‘Odd.’ See more responses here. The ocean is full of oddities so I thought I’d include a few here.

Above: A Manta Ray encounter is always something special, but there’s no getting away from their odd appearance. This one has the added wrinkle of one of its cephalic flaps being damaged.

Top left: Bluespine Unicornfishes not only have a horn protruding from their foreheads, they have dayglow blue scalpels at the base of the tail and an array of expressions that are mostly odd.

Top right: Who knows how many scorpionfishes I’ve swum past? Masters of disguise, I could stare at a spot where one is perched and not see it. Even when I do see one, it’s not always clear that it’s not just a rock, as this Titan Scorpionfish illustrates.

Bottom left: Nudibranches are inherently odd looking, and this Clumpy Nudibrach is no exception. It suggests to me some top chef’s idea of an exotic entrée, but one that keeps sliding off the plate!

Bottom right: Blennies are indisputably odd, but absolutely endearing. The Hawaiian Zebra Blenny is no exception and, in addition, has an uncanny ability to launch itself into the next tidepool if someone disturbs it.

Pacific Day Octopus

A Pacific Day Octopus in Hawaii
A Pacific Day Octopus extends its tentacles

Let’s face it, octopuses are just plain odd. They change color in an instant. They disappear while you’re looking at them. They shoot off with surprising speed. They disappear into cracks where you wouldn’t think you could lose a paperclip. And, while looking right at them, they will change shape, oozing out tentacles to redistribute themselves in some other place.

Posted in response to this month’s Becky’s Squares challenge theme of ‘Odd.’ See more responses here.

Tahitian prawns

A Tahitian prawn in a stream in Hawaii
A Tahitian prawn in a stream in Hawaii

Tahitian prawns were introduced to Hawaii back in the 1950s and are now found on all the islands thanks, in part, to the fact that their life cycle includes a stage in the open ocean. The prawns have become a popular food here though, as with most introduced species, there’s a downside. They prey on native species in the streams they inhabit.

One such stream runs through Hawai’i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden, which is where I saw these Tahitian prawns. This stream is also one of several on the island where the prawns have been virtually wiped out on occasion. That’s because, while it’s legal to catch these prawns, it’s not legal to do so by dumping insecticide in the stream. Not only does this kill all the prawns, but it wipes out pretty much everything else that’s alive in there. And then there’s the small matter that these prawns are harvested for human consumption. Would you like insecticide with that?

Catching people in the act has proved difficult, but last year authorities did apprehend one man who had killed 6,200 prawns using this method. Earlier this year, he was fined $633,840 for his actions and the hope is that the big fine will discourage others. Mind you, the perpetrator looked like someone who would have trouble raising $840, let alone the other $633,000.