Monday, December 17, 2007

Lumpfish, Oh My

Dan sends us yet another gem. The aptly-named Lumpfish or Lumpsucker. While it looks like a distant cousin of Jabba the Hut, the lumpfish is no fictitious creature. It is a a small, slow-moving fish native to cold Arctic, North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans. In Denmark and other Scandinavian countries Lumpfish roe are actually eaten as an inexpensive alternative to pricey, luxury caviar.

But Lumpfish are so much more than cheap caviar for hungry Danes. In general the Lumpfish is small, except for the Smooth Lumpfish that can grow up to 20 inches. The Lumpfish generally hangs out on the bottom of the ocean as its weight- to- length ratio is so disproportionate (i.e. small bodies, a lot of weight), they cannot swim very fast or far. In order to camouflage on the ocean floor, they are usually beige or grey in color.

Perhaps one of the most interesting facts about the Lumpfish is the male's devotion to the eggs before they hatch. While the male waits for the eggs to hatch, he fasts so that he can stay close to the eggs. The male also fans the egg mass constantly with his lumpy fin. (The female has since moved on.) When at last the eggs hatch, the male is so thin and exhausted he cannot continue on with the babies and they swim off on their own. This story of male devotion rivals that of the Empire Penguins. Move over March of the Penguins!

(Finally, I should also mention that in my research I learned the Lumpfish is not only a rather ungainly, fleshy-looking fish, but it is also the name of a party-rock/cover band in Connecticut. Lumpfish sets are "designed to get people off their asses early and keeping them dancing drinking and singing all night long." If anyone is ever in Connecticut, please oh please check out the Lumpfish.)

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Rebirth of Aquatic

Oh abandoned Blog. I've let you down with my prolonged absence. But in light of oil spills, crab seasons, and my ever-loyal readers-- I cannot stay away from you. Aquatic Blog is back (in baby blue!) with a crop of exciting new aquatic tales...

I thought it best, on this relaunching post, to visit Aquatic Blog's personal Mecca-- The Monterey Bay Aquarium. Opened in October of 1984, the MBA - along with its sister organization, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (in Moss Landing) is one of the largest aquariums in the world. Funded largely by the Packard family, it has over 35,000 plants and animals, and 550 species. The famous Outer Bay exhibit alone contains over 1 million gallons of sea water. MBA was also featured in Startrek IV, "The Voyage Home" (where it was apparently called "The Sausalito Cetacean Institute"). You can check out the MBA website -- even send aquarium e-cards.

Special Friend to Aquatic Blog visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and brought us back these lovely photos:

Stay tuned for more exciting aquatic blogs to come...

(Incidentally, this re-launching is in the memory of one Gilda the Goldfish -- couldn't have aqua-blogged without her:)

Monday, May 7, 2007

Back From The Bottom of the Ocean

There's no other excuse as to why I disappeared from my little blog: I was on a deep-sea mission (of course). In a little underwater hovercraft, I crawled to the depths of the ocean to bring you back rare and exciting finds. It was a little hairy at times. But then again, these deep-sea expositions always are. Here is my underwater hovercraft (and thanks Dan for another brilliant find):

(Can you see me waving?)

And here are some of my favorites from the exposition below. You can check out more creatures here.

Dumbo octopus or grimpoteuthis. Depth 300- 5000 meters. 20cm

Football fish or Himantolophus paucificolus. Depth 1000-2000 meters. Females up to 45 cm.

(not sure where these strange text boxes and graphics are coming from on this post, it must be technical problems from my deep-sea travels)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sea Cucumbers! Look at them Go!

Thank you Dan for sending me this picture. I wasn't sure what I could post about after the colossal squid story. I mean where do you go after mammoth squids?! (Using the term mammoth loosely here.) But now it's apparent what the next post should be: Sea Cucumbers!! Just look at that picture! So much that could be said...

But what's the sea cucumber's story? Is it more than just a pretty face? Yes, yes it is. Happily for me, the scavenger-of-the-sea has many interesting characteristics. My favorite being the cucumber's strategic defense mechanisism: defensive vomiting. Yes that's right. When the little guy is feeling threatened it expells its internal organs. Bam!

That would sure scare me away. I guess it's a tactic to confuse the predator's hunt (especially when these predators hunt by scent.) Lucky for the sea cucumber, these organs can be regrown.
Sea cucumbers can be found in just about any sea environment- but always on the floor of the ocean. They move by tiny tentacle-action. Also, their skin is apparently kind of leathery- like a snake. (I guess- I've never compared the two.) The cucumber is related to the sea star and sea urchin. And they can grow as big as 16 inches. Foot-long sea cucumber!

Finally, sea cucumbers are popular for their delicate flavor (so I hear) and their medicinal properties, especially in Asia. Apparently sea cucumber 'extract' (I'm not quite sure what that is) is good for tissue healing, and even removing the appearance of scarring.

Here's another picture:

yah little cucumber!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Very Big Squid

Oh dear. Crab season came and went and I never even blogged about it. But the dungeness crab was mighty tasty. It might be our last crab till next season. It was a nice way to go out.

But on to bigger things... COLOSSAL SQUID...

Check out the SFGate article about a mighty and Colossal Squid caught off the coast of New Zealand. The squid is 990 lbs, 39 feet long. They say that if the squid was made into calamari, the rings would be the size of tractor tires.

We're all more ore less familiar with the Giant Squid -- but bigger than that is the Colossal Squid- so rare that it battles sperm whales. It has the largest eye of any animal. And a very mean hook.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Gearing up for crab tomorrow, so just a quick post to keep the momentum going.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Here's a picture of the axoltl. Genus: Ambystoma. Species: Mexicanum (is that Latin for Mexican?). Related to salamanders. Living only in a few lakes in Mexico. Known as the WuperRuper in Japan. I promise this won't turn into some sort of 'cute underwater creatures' blog... cute as the axolotl may be.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pizza of the Sea: Anchovy Pizza

This is the first in our Pizza of the Sea entries, where we will explore pizzas that make clever gastronomic use of seafood -- and a little about the seafood before it ended up on pizza.

Had my first anchovy pizza last night -- it was pretty incredible. Anchovies, hot chilies and fresh oregano. What a brilliant combination. We got the pizza from Gioia Pizzeria in North Berkeley on Hopkins St. I'm going to be bold and say that Gioia is the best pizza in the bay area. That's right. I said it.

(When it comes to pizza, I'm a purist of the east coast variety. Very thin crust. I am not fooled by any of this over-hyped Little Star thin crust pizza. Cheeseboard is good, I'll definitely admit that. But really, it's a little too California to even be in the running.

And why so much feta, Cheeseboard, why?)

But back to anchovies:
Native to the Mediterranean, anchovies are small and greenish in color. Although they have a silver racing stripe on their back, which makes them appear very shiny. You can see them in all their silvery glory at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Anchovy Tank (you can do no wrong Monterey, no wrong at all).

It seems just about everyone in the sea eats the little anchovy, from halibut to sharks. Marine birds eat them too. As a side note- birds typically bore me, even marine ones. But Wikipedia, mentions that some bird called the elegant tern is pretty much dependent on the anchovy for its recent breeding success.

But here's the most interesting thing about anchovies: In September of last year, around 3 tons of baby anchovies beached themselves on a beach in Spain. That's a whole lot of anchovies.

But the crazy thing is that they did all these tests on the anchovies to figure out why the little guys would have just beached themselves- chemicals? toxins? Nothing. So the new working theory is that the anchovies were just trying to escape a hungry dolphin or tuna.

That makes no sense to me. These are fish -- they don't just take a wrong turn and end up out of the water. Why did all three tons of them screw up so badly this time?

I'm not buying this 'hungry dolphin or tuna' theory. In fact, I suspect this is part of some sort of mass global anchovy conspiracy. I don't know who's in this thing or how far it goes, but I'm thinking it could be big.


First Post: Looking at the world from a Fish-Eyed View

I should be honest - I'm not sure what a 'fish-eyed view' is.

After all, how do fish see when they have eyes on either side of their head? I've always wondered this.

Incidentally, it was very difficult finding a URL name for my little aquatic-themed blog. Who new that URLs like 'octoblog', 'fishy'... even 'fishtastic' would already be taken?