31 Aug 2010

Summer's almost gone but the celebrations continue.

Tomorrow is the beginning of autumn and as every time autumn begins, the summer goes away. As every time the summer goes away, we have to listen to the same song of the Doors .
Ok that’s enough with the matters outside the sea. When the autumn begins, all the virgos of the zodiac cycle celebrate. Unfortunately none of the animals of the eastern Mediterranean is virgin so we don’t have anything to celebrate. No? Of course not! If you look deep in the arthropods' classification, you can find a forgotten family of tremendous crabs called Parthenopidae. Parthenos is the Greek word for the virgin so in honor of this today we will introduce one of the most unknown families of the crabs of Mediterranean Sea. I have met crabs of this family 3 times and I think that all of them belong to the same species but yet I am yet unsure which species it is. I cannot find enough information about this family and this may be, because, these crabs don’t like the lights of publicity.
They prefer spending their time burried in the sand. That’s a pity for the naturalists as they cannot admire their impressive claws and their beautiful purple. The common name for these crabs is elbow crabs to fame their giant chelipeds . Maybe, if you compare them with the body size they are one of the biggest claws in the nature.
According to the Greek mythology, Parthenope was one of the sirens that were trying to seduce Odysseus with her song. Odysseus escapes from the trap and from her despair the siren falls into the sea and dies. The body of the siren washed ashore on a beach in the south of Italia and some travelers from Chalkidians that had just arrived found her. They burried her, and started to make their city around the grave. They gave the city the name Neapolis and this city is the famous untill our days as Naples. Annibale de Gasparis a scientist of astronomy, many centuries later named 11 Parthenope a small planet that he discovered as he was working in Naples.
Summer’s almost gone.

23 Aug 2010

Trapped by love!

One of the most colorful fish of the Eastern Med, the Ornate wrasse reminds me of a busy butterfly flying from flower to flower. It swims very fast using only its pectoral fins, a characteristic of the Wrasse family (Giloi, xeiloudes). Thalassoma pavo displays hermaphroditic protogyny, which means that it is born a female and later on in life it transforms into a completely different, more vibrantly colored male. These wrasses are thermophylic (prefering warm water) inhabiting rocky, coastal areas. Their density increases along with temperature, and due to the recent sea temperature rise, their distribution is spreading northwards towards the Adriatic and Ligurian Sea.
Their Greek common names are Gaitanouri, Galani or simply Gilos.
Favorite food includes small crabs and shells.
Recently, I came upon an impressive lonely male and a different population of many females and their males in a very impressive gathering/harem.
The males can reach 25 cm in length and cannot be mistaken with their beautiful lunar tail and exotic blue/pink painted face ,yellow/green body and one single blue band going down after the gills. The females are smaller with blue bands and a black spot under their dorsal fin in the middle of the body.

above- a male T.pavo pose at our camera

above- a female T.pavo exploring two divers

above- the juveniles also have a different coloration