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.