28 Dec 2009

Santa gifts.

Santa gifts sometimes are real extraordinary. You can find them inside your camera’s memory stick with no explanation how they exist there. This photo is this kind of gift.
It is something completely unusual because I have seen a lot of pictures with S.saurus bite so big victims to his jaws. But this is not a S.saurus it is a Trachinus radiatus which has a much smaller mouth than S.saurus. And the most impressive is that the victim is not a small Sparidae fish or a C.chromis but a juvenile of the family Rajidae!!! Most of the times that I don’t take a nice picture of an interest subject I think “next time will be better”. Unfortunately for this subject I don’t think that will be a next time. But who cares? The sure is that sea will always impress me with the strange behaviours of her habitants and if the sea wants we will be there for a lot of years inform you for all the strangeness of the Eastern Mediterranean Inhabitants.

Have a nice new year with a lot and wonderful dives!
May the next year be fairer for marine animals?

27 Dec 2009

The Green Ormer

These shells are popularly called sea-ears and the scientific name Haliotis comes from the Greek halios and otis meaning ear.
They are a single shelled gastropod that crawls over the rocks feeding on algae. It can grow up to 12 cm and the interior of the shell is a magnificent wavy mother-of-pearl covering. They have separate sexes and breed in the summer. Masters of camouflage with calcareous algae and other seaweeds living on their shell, they can easily be sniffed out by octopus..look closely in the following picture

Their flesh is prized both by men and octopi... today, on what it seems like the last dive of the year,..a very big ear-shell was just about to be eaten by a viciously hungry octopus, when "tank girl" came to the rescue to get a photo...the octopus left slowly towards the right leaving the very expanded shell to its peace, towards the left.
In this incident we can see the rare situation of the shell's mantle being completely expanded outwards giving it a frilly white margin, and the octopus looking very annoyed...
It seems the French love this shell and it has a history for heavy fishing north until the Channel Islands, where they first beat the hard flesh and then fry it////it is delicious!

So, to close off this first year of Medi-sea..adventures

Sea ear, Sea ear
if you can hear
all we want for New Year

No more all around trawling gear/fear


and many love Hugs and Fishes
to All and to All good night

20 Dec 2009

Christmas slug lights up the sea!

Dear friends of Medi Sea
Christmas is nearly here and we wanted to celebrate this time
with the most festive of Eastern Mediterranean slugs!
Janolus cristatus is a strikingly
beautiful opisthobranch and we nicknamed it "the bulb" (γλόμπος) because its
cerata are very much like glowing bulbs. If you look closely inside the transparent cerata you will notice the digestive gland ducts, which look like mushrooms!

These animals can grow to 75 mm in length and love to feed on bryozoans.
As beautiful as they are, they are very fragile so better not to touch them, only admire them from a distance.
Their egg sacs look like packets of pearls.
This specimen was photographed in Pilio but it's distribution reaches as far North as
Happy Holidays
Happy Christmas dives
and all we want for Christmas is:

6 Dec 2009

Remember, remember the 6th of December

One of the last pictures I took with my camera (before I violently drowned it, yesterday), was this wicked crab, called Dromia personata that is completely invisible unless it starts eating a jelly fish right in front you!

If you look closely on the middle left of the picture, you will see the side of the sponge crab under its well fitted sponge cover, grabbing the jellyfish by its tentacles and slowly eating it!

So there you see one crab, but the shock was the other one that is hiding behind the jellyfish! And both of them had the jellyfish clawed by both sides! Was it a well thought of attack?Do crabs like to eat jellyfish and work together to capture it?!
Both crabs had a 15cm carapace covered by a well attached sponge, making them COMPLETELY invisible!
These sponge crabs are very curious in that the front of their body is hairy, and the edge of its two front claws is bright pink. Although they may be pink they are huge and should be avoided...poor jellyfish

30 Nov 2009

Crab duo...

Spidercrabs love anemones, and the anemones love the crabs. It seems that neither animals are hurt in this beneficial relationship, the crab is protected by the poisonous tentacles and the anemone is warned for any predators before anyone can suspect otherwise. You see, these crabs cannot be seen easily, you may be taking a picture of one and the other would be giggling behind a tentacle! Amazing camouflage and very hard in identification, unless the carapace is available for closer examination, for example when the crab is shedding. Maybe next time...I know where you live....
Sometimes they like to cover up with sponges, like another resident of Kalogria which will be on the next post.
Until then happy crab hunting!

Photo taken on this last Sunday of November in Kalogria.

25 Nov 2009

the king of blennies

One uncommon and endemic in the Mediterranean sea specie of blennie is Salaria basilisca. Blennie-basilic is very similar with Salaria pavo but it has small differences in the white marks of her body and it doesn’t have the ring behind the eye that we can see at S.pavo. It lives in the very shallow water hiding in small caves and it is hermaphrodite. It born as a female and as it get older turns to male. The head of the male individuals can grow that strange “crown”. Probably can stay over the tide level as does the S.pavo .

22 Nov 2009

Under my umbrella

The umbrella snail is still a little confusion for the scientific research. There are probably two common species worldwide the Umbraculum umbraculum (Indo-Pacific region) and the Umbraculum mediterraneum (east Atlantic-Mediterranean region). A lot of researchers confuse this two species. More species of the family Umbraculidae have been found as fossils or just once. As we know most of the species of the (Subclass) Opisthobranchia have no shell. U.mediterraneum and Tylodina pervesa are the strangest species of the subclass as they have a small shell that looks like an umbrella over their body. U.mediterraneum is feeding on sponges and for that reason has a broad radula with rasping teethes. It can also bury in the sand near the sponges that it prefers for feeding. If you find it on the rocks it maybe impossible to spot as it can hide all his body between the umbrella shell and the rock. The animal in the photo was met at Paros at the depth of 1 meter and it is the shallower I have ever met.

18 Nov 2009

7 is the magic number

This enormous starfish is rarer in the Mediterranean than around the British coasts or Norway. There is no way it can mixed up with anything else as it is very big (up to 60cm) and it allways has 7 legs, possibly of uneven size.All along the legs you find white conspicuous spines but the actual body is very smooth.The color ranges from orange, yellow and their variations.Luidia ciliaris has been recorded from deep depths up to 600m but it prefers depths of up to 150m. It will not hesitate to sacrifice a leg or two to a predator as it will grow more very easily! It prefers to feed on brittlestars or other starfish and it can move quite fast with his huge tubefeet (visible in the picture on the underside of the animal). The internal systems of these animals have no intestine, ceca, or anus, and their gonads are arranged in a double series along the length of their arms.This specimen was photographed in Kelifos and an even bigger specimen was spotted in Pilio.These strange 7 legged starfish can live up to 2 or 3 years.

10 Nov 2009

Hexaplex trunculus

Attacking a Callista chione bivalve shell.

The hatching of the eggs doesn't happen at the same time as you can see from this photo.

One common gastropod of the Mediterranean Sea is the Hexaplex trunculus or Banded Murex. This snail was very popular through the ancient times because it was used to produce purple dye. It is also used as bait for long-lines. A hunter with great success against bivalve shells (photo)but it also likes dead fishes. It is powerful enough to make holes in bivalve shells. Fishermen attract them by throwing dead fishes and crabs. Over its shell can grow weeds, asbestolithic weeds and sponges. The most impressive point in its life is its reproduction. It has separate sexes and a lot of individuals spawn over the same place making that strange group of eggs that we can find in the shallow water (photo). The first nymph stages of his life passes inside the egg and it hatches as a crawling shell. It lives in polluted areas and sometimes this results in finding female animals with male genitals.

4 Nov 2009

Double fanworm

Bispira volutacornis is one of the beautiful fanworms of Aegean Sea. Fanworms are worms that prefer living in membranous tubes that creates over steady items even buried in mud or between rocks. The only part of these animals which is visibly is the tube and the double feather-crown that filters water for feeding and breathing. I usually find it on clear shallow waters like solitarily beaches. Its eyes alert the animal if the danger approaches it and rapidly hides its double crown inside the tube. When it is hidden the entrance of the tube closes and makes a peculiar 8. Its crown colour variation is from white (and pinkie white) to brown or reddish brown and depends on the sex and the sexually mature of the animal. B.volutacornis usually prefers solitarily living but sometimes you can meet a couple of them (photo) or more.

29 Oct 2009

Intertidal hermit crab.

Clibanarius erythropus is famous for a variety of reasons such as his funny name, the big range of shells and his usage as a bait. The last reason happens because it is very easy to trap him in the rockpools where it uses to sit. It has a foraging behavior and it selects substrates where there are a lot of filamentous algae and corticated macrophytes to eat. It moves big distances per day and research showed that the type of shell that it uses influences the extent of movement. In the video you can watch a strange meeting of hundreds of hermit crabs under a rock. Probably this happens for the reproduction. I made it in very shallow water (o,5m).

28 Oct 2009

The fish of the eerie heavens!

There is a myth that says that this fish was given to Jesus by St. Peter, the gatekeeper of heaven. The false eye mark on each side is said to be from St. Peters fingers. I can see why he would do that as this fish, besides it's majestic appearance, the John dory is one of the most delicious fish in the sea. It can reach 20 kg and is mostly solitary but on this reef in Nikiti they are spotted in pairs.. His massive, protrusible mouth catches schooling fish and is quite remarkable to see, hopefully here, very soon!
To see them visit the You tube Medisea channel, Poseidon Diving School or any dive centre near you..just say your prayers before :p

22 Oct 2009

Greater Mediterranean hermit crabs

As most species of crabs Greater Mediterranean hermit crabs are susceptible to fights. Here you can admire the impact of Mike Tyson to the animal kingdom. (Video by Kostas Milonakis, unidentified if they are D.arrosor or D.calidus)

Dardanus calidus with some Calliactis parasitica on his shell.

Dardanus calidus

When you diving at Mediterranean you can meet two species of Big Hermit crabs (Bernard-l'ermites). The species Dardanus arrosor and Dardanus calidus can grow more than 6cm and both can be symbiotic with the anemone Calliactis parasitica. Unlike with the parasitic symbiosis that this anemone has with the Atlantic Hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus it is confirmed that D.arrosor assists the trasfer of C.parasitica to its shell. Also the same experiments showed that most of the D.arrosor that had accepted C.parasitica to their shell were females and males prefer to be on their own.

21 Oct 2009

Posidonia fragile heaven

The Posidonia meadows are a key marine coastal ecosystem for the Mediterranean. These flowering plants are the longest living organism of our seas, with a growth rate of 1 cm per year! In this picture we can see some of the hundreds of plant and animal species that live and breed within the meadows. This particular meadow is in Nikiti on a reef 2 miles offshore. Because the top of the reef is very shallow, no commercial fishermen fish on it, but around it, allowing the roots of the plant to be covered by very delicate species of bryozoans and red coralline algae. A bit further along a small Octopus vulgaris was finding refuge in the jungle of seaweed!
This is the beauty of unspoiled and undisturbed Posidonia oceanica meadows, protecting them is as vital as the sea is to the planet.

19 Oct 2009

The dream team!

The list that follows shows the Sharks species of Mediterranean (Superorder Selachimorpha) and their IUCN Red list status.
1)Heptranchias perlo Near Threatened
2)Hexanchus griseus Lower Risk Near Threatened
3)Hexanchus nakamurai Not evaluated
4)Echinorhinus brucus Data Deficient
5)Squalus acanthias Vulnerable
6)Squalus blainville Not evaluated
7)Centrophorus granulosus Vulnerable
8)Squalus uyato Not evaluated
9)Etmopterus spinax Not evaluated
10)Centroscymnus coelolepi Near Threatened
11)Somniosus rostratus Not evaluated
12)Oxynotus centrina Vulnerable
13)Dalatias licha Data Deficient
14)Squatina aculeata Critically endangered
15)Squatina oculata Critically endangered
16)Squatina squatina Critically endangered
17)Carcharias Taurus Vulnerable
18)Odontaspis ferox Data Deficient
19)Alopias supercilious Not evaluated
20)Alopias vulpinus Data Deficient
21)Cetorhinus maximus Vulnerable
22)Carcharodon carcharias Vulnerable
23)Isurus oxyrinchus Lower Risk Near Threatened
24)Isurus paucus Vulnerable
25)Lamna nasus Vulnerable
26)Scyliorhinus stellaris Not evaluated
27)Scyliorhinus canicula Not evaluated
28)Galeus atlanticus Near Threatened
29)Galeus melastomus Not evaluated
30)Galeorhinus galeus Vulnerable
31)Mustelus asterias Lower Risk Least Concern
32)Mustelus mustelus Lower Risk Least Concern
33)Mustelus punctulatus Not evaluated
34)Carcharhinus altimus Not evaluated
35)Carcharhinus brachyurus Near Threatened
36)Carcharhinus brevipinna Lower Risk Near Threatened
37)Carcharhinus falciformis Lower Risk Least Concern
38)Carcharhinus limbatus Lower Risk Near Threatened
39)Carcharhinus melanopterus Lower Risk Near Threatened
40)Carcharhinus obscurus Lower Risk Near Threatened
41)Carcharhinus plumbeus Lower Risk Near Threatened
42)Carcharhinus longimanus Vulnerable
43)Prionace glauca Lower Risk Near Threatened
44)Sphyrna lewini Lower Risk Near Threatened
45)Sphyrna zygaena Lower Risk Near Threatened
46)Sphyrna tudes Vulnerable
47)Sphyrna mokarran Endangered
48)Pristis pectinata Critically endangered
49)Pristis pristis Critically endangered

12 Oct 2009

Octopus - the magnificent 8

Everyone who visits the Greek islands is familiar with the picture of the hanging bodies of the octopus. Famous for his tasteful meat octopus is the most popular food for the summer. Fortunately the population of the octopus doesn’t seem to be endangered because of the fishing. If it lives in good conditions with plenty of food can grow up to 10kgr extremely fast. It is very famous for his skills and abilities that make it one of the most impressive marine animals and a very good hunter. During the day he hunts near his nest but on the other hand in the night makes long walks searching for food (video) It can camouflaged near the rocks and burry himself in the sand (photo) in order to do ambush his victims. Also it seems to be very clever as it can open cans and glass jars if it wants to take the containment. It has been proven that it can learn and remember tricks for a long time. Octopuses are territorial animals and usually in the area you will find individuals of the same size. Some of them are very good builders and make a well style nest using rocks over the sand. They also use rocks to block the entrance of the nest (video). When the octopus is afraid it makes a red and white coloration ring around his eyes and ejects ink (photo).

A night excursion! filmed by Michalis Adamtziloglou

An octopus trying to mime the color of the sand

Burried alive to ambuscade the enemies.

Reproduction time, one of the male tentacles has the hectocotylus which is the tentacle that carries the spermatophores. The female gametes are inside the mantle. These two animals seem to be afraid of each other.

Ejecting ink to have more time to run and hide.

A well style nest.

Octopus uses rocks to hide and block the entrance of the his nest.

After mating come the eggs some species can lay up to 500.000 eggs. The female guards the strings of eggs for about a month. She is a very caring mother!, this time however she left her nest for a little sea stroll.

Octopus is a usual issue for ancient Greek amphoras (this from the Minoan civilazation)

Octopus also can be protagonist or inspire some very funny situations

11 Oct 2009

Have you hugged a shark today?

Shark week has started, from the 10th until the 18th of October, people across Europe are speaking out for sharks.
The top predator of our seas has been around before the dinosaurs, but sadly now some species like the Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus, not dangerous) are in danger of extinction.
A new report by the IUCN shows that 40% of the shark species in the Med, are threatened by extinction, making this Basin the most dangerous place if you are a shark. For many species there is insufficient data about their populations.
In Greece the lack of ANY data could possibly mean that some have disappeared without us ever knowing.
Sharks and rays are, for me, the most impressive marine life that I have encountered so far, and none of my interactions have been menacing, although I was lucky enough to see some of the more dangerous species. Until now the only sharks I have seen in Greece, have been dead, or alive and then brutally murdered just because it was a shark and it deserved to die, as it is "dangerous". This picture was from one such occurrence in Paros, Greece (photos by Makis Terzis), of a Thresher Shark (not dangerous, unless provoked). He came out to the shallows where the people hauled him on shore and cut him up.
The depletion of sharks from our seas may cause unpredictable changes in the ecosystem, including loss of biodiversity and probable depletion of other fish stocks.
If you care even slightly about the future of our seas, please don't consume any shark products and inform yourself on the matter, sharks are NOT the stereotype you know.
"Have you hugged a shark today?" is a metaphorical statement!
sharks may be dangerous and unpredictable, do not attempt to hug or touch them ;)
Just respect and protect them.

In the Greek language we call this fish alepou (αλεπού της θάλασσας) which means fox. This word, alepou, gave its name to the family, Alopiidae.

8 Oct 2009

The coat-of-mail shells (aka chitons)

Chitons is the common name for the species of the Polyplacophora (Class) shells. Polyplacophora is seems to mean at Greek "the ones who have a lot of plates". The shell is composed from a lot of plates so the animal is more flexible to his movement. The first photo is from Chiton olivaceus which probably take his name from his colour which is similar to the olive. The second photo is the specie Lepidopleurus cajetanus and the photo taken as I moved a rock at shallow water. Both pictures was taken at Paros island in shallow water. More information about Chitons behaviour you can find in the following link.

Chitons: Polyplacophora - Behavior And Reproduction

29 Sept 2009

Funky slug making lurve circles...

The Eastern side of the Mediterranean, never seems to stop suprising us with its beauty!
Phyllidia flava is the only representative of the Phylidias, in the Med,
and here we have two specimens (yellow blob) on the two orange shponges, after they have layed their, not so perfect as usual, egg mases.
Phyllidias do not have radular teeth so these slugs eat the sponge by exuding enzymes and sucking the animal off the sceleton.
This photo was taken at 35 meters in Pilio.

27 Sept 2009

Me and my flatmates!

At two meters depth this little clingfish was quite curious looking at me, he even raised his head to see me! And of course he can because this species has the ability to "raise his head", a special adaptation of the vertebrae, allows him to do this.
The funkiest part of this fish is the sucking disk on his belly,formed by the ventral fins (visible from the side of the first picture). This specimen is a male because he has red spots on the head and along the base of the dorsal fin.
First time I saw him he was alone in his penthouse, second time and every time after that he had two gastropod room mates with him...
too cool too be alone ;)
Photo from Pilio

23 Sept 2009

A sponge that eats rocks?

Chemical warfare is the most brutal and can be used by very fragile species in the sea in order to defeat the strongest!
This boring yellow sponge uses a chemical acid by product from its respiration to make holes in soft limestone rock, to undercut and surround tiny pieces of rock, which are then spat out with the water flow. In many instances, most of the sponge is hidden in a network of passages and chambers that it has excavated in the substrate, which can be rock or shells. In some instances it can be visible outside the rock in very obvious masses.
This particular specimen is surrounded by a colony of black bryozoa, Reptadeonella violacea .
I have seen the sponge in red as well, but am not sure if it is the same species.

22 Sept 2009

Conus the Mediterranean

Conus mediterraneus is far away from his family. He belongs to a great family of snails with more than 400 species. Unfortunately he is the only specie of the family Conidae at the Mediterranean sea. Once at 1986 a cousin of him C.fumigatus visit him from the Red sea that he lived but he didn't stay for a lot. So C.mediterraneus continues his life by hunting polychaetes and other animals with his venomous harpoon!!! You can find him at shallow water hanging around with a lazy style.
Photos from Kolimpithres beach Paros.
Conus ventricosus is a synonym.

18 Sept 2009

Melt with Melibe

I don't know how it happens, but the crappiest, cloudiest days are the best for underwater observation!
-This species of Melibe fimbriata was encountered at 10 meters free swimming and then attached on the sea grass, however the other time I encountered a much larger specimen, it was wallowing in the mud!
-The identification is hard as not many studies have been done in the Med, so until now most recordings are labeled as Melibe fimbriata
-It's a remarkable nudibranch, which has migrated from the Suez canal, an exotic species that is not native to the Mediterranean.
-It uses rhythmic lateral-bending movements, and can sometimes, travel long distances across open water. The upside-down, side-to-side thrashing motion may look awkward, but it is a complex series of movements which has been studied extensively.
-It feeds while attached to grasses, by extending its oral hood out and downward like a net. When the ventral surface of the hood contacts a small animal, the hood rapidly closes and the fringing tentacles overlap, holding in the prey then forcing the whole animal into the mouth. Prey include amphipods, copepods, mysids, other small crustaceans, small mollusks, small jellyfish and ctenophores, larvae of other invertebrates and in some cases small fish.

And one more picture from a wandering one at the surface. Probably she uses the current to move as she stays moveless just 1 meter under the surfave. (pic by hector)

15 Sept 2009

A small city called Anemonia viridis

Living on her own or at big populations Anemonia viridis is one of the most common Mediterranean anthozoa species. It is the home for a big number of other species like crabs, fishes, shrimps even bacteria and algae. So she's is a real ecosystem on her own. The green fluorescent proteinis probably responsible for the ones with greenish colour. You should avoid touching her because as all the cnidarians may damage you with her stinging cells. If you want to meet the residents of this city stay in contact with medi-sea.blogspot.com .

14 Sept 2009

Find the nudi

In two meters of water in Pilion, there is a great abundance of Aplysina aerophoba sponges, and most of them are big and beautiful, except some that have been eaten to bits.....by this beautiful little slug called Tylodina perversa.
You can see on the picture of the sponge the places that have not been munched, and the others that have a duller appearance. The marks that the slug leaves are very big, however the sponge heals easily.
This specimen was a loyal highlight to all divers there, until one day I pass by and look on every sponge but he was not there, the only thing left was its cap..Eaten but never forgotten!

11 Sept 2009

Alicia in wonderland!

This amazing anemone, is so unlike any others!
In the day time it is as shown in the pictures, but at night it extends upwards
with elongated tentacles around it. We promise to post a night shot soon, or if anyone has one all ready and would like to
contribute, please do.
In the day time you can see it attached on anything, sponges, plastics (why are they there?), seaweed, anywhere.
All photos from Pilion, from 5-18m depth

9 Sept 2009

Coral worm castle

This little perch has a very impressive castle, made of a rich yellow sponge Aplysina aerophoba and a very fragile colony of coral worms Salmacina dysteri. The coral worms are only tiny but the colonies can reach up to 15 cm in sheltered areas, without nets or clumsy fin strokes.
Don't disturb the dreams and the castles, glide smoothly!
The photos where taken in Pilion, 5m.

6 Sept 2009

Butterfly flying over me

on a very cloudy day, the visibility was 5 meters max, and the prospects of the dive were grim..
that's when this beautiful ray flew by me and landed 5 meters below on the silty bottom.
It was 1 meter long from wing to wing.
The picture was taken at a depth of 35 meters, so along with the bad visibility and the photographers shock, it came out quite dark.
This Widewing butterfly ray can reach 2 meters wing span, it likes to feed on small fish and molluscs, along sandy or muddy bottoms. It is an ovoviviparous ray and the 4-7 embryos are born all ready equipped with two tail spines.The species has been reported as grunting loudly with the sudden explusion of air while lying on deck after capture :( This animal is so amazingly beautiful and suprisingly strong for its gracefulness, I hope all of you see it alive in the sea and never grunting out air on the surface as it struggles for its life...
This encounter happened in Pilion, at 33m

8 Aug 2009

Free green energy lesson!

This sweet little nudibranch is considered to be endemic for the Mediterrenean! We are lucky to have Elysia timida in our seas, but it is so small and timid, it's quite hard to spot, but a good start are the seaweed Acetabularia acetabulum and Padina pavonica, which are her favorite snacks! The really cool thing about this nudibranch is that it retains functional symbiotic chloroplasts from its food within the cells of its digestive system, providing it with nutrients ever after!

7 Aug 2009

Like a bee to honey

So this little beauty only prefers hydroids of the genus Eudendrium, this particular shot was taken 1 month ago in Nikiti, where we found only remnants of the hydroid as the Peregrina were feasting on whatever was left. Bon appetite!

14 Jul 2009

Verba Volent, Scripta Manent

I am very happy that the most important things (or what I think was important) I heard in my life was at verba volent side. This comber has taken his name by the marks in his head that seem to be letters in the eyes of someone(S.scriba). Yeap, it’s not so clearly so we can suppose that the guy that gave this name was a bit romantic or had great imagination.
-photo taken at Santa Maria Paros at the depth of 25m. (One of the very few moments that my housing worked in such a depth).