DEEP LOOK:  Sea Urchins Pull Themselves Inside Out to be Reborn

Every summer, millions of people head to the coast to soak up the sun and play in the waves. But they aren’t alone. Just beyond the crashing surf, hundreds of millions of tiny sea urchin larvae are also floating around, preparing for one of the most dramatic transformations in the animal kingdom.

Scientists along the Pacific coast are investigating how these microscopic ocean drifters, which look like tiny spaceships, find their way back home to the shoreline, where they attach themselves, grow into spiny creatures and live out a slow-moving life that often exceeds 100 years…

(read more: KQED Science - Deep Look)


Watch a sand dollar bury itself

Even the deep sea can have bright colors! This spring, scientists from NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research explored the deep waters in and around Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. While exploring the waters of Castellano Seamount, the Deep Discoverer ROV came across this group of brisingid sea stars – one of the largest aggregations on these sea stars that anyone on the ship had ever seen!

(Photo: Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Hohonu Moana)



The crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) is native to coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region. On healthy coral reefs, the coral-eating starfish plays an important role, as it tends to feed on the fastest growing corals, allowing slower growing coral species to form colonies. This helps increase coral diversity. However, outbreaks of this venomous invertebrate pose one of the most significant threats to the Great Barrier Reef, where this species is invasive.

Scientists are looking for physical vulnerabilities in Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (COTS) in order to mitigate their harmful impacts on coral reefs where this species is not beneficial. What we know about them? Adult COTS have a well-developed sense of smell, touch and taste. But we dont know how they see the world, until now.

They have a primitive eyes at the end of each of their 12 to 15 arms, forming rudimentary images of its immediate environment in a “surround vision”, and can detect large stationary objects against a blue ocean background. A recent study revealed a COTS can see areas of contrast in its immediate environ-ment, allowing it to distinguish between open environments and places to shel-ter over short distances. Images ‘c’ and ’d’ simulate what a COTS perceives of the environments in images 'a’ and 'b’.  

Researchers believe that government should construct artificial structures that look and smell “right” to the crown-of-thorns starfish and act as bait or at least as an attraction device. Animals concentrated in and around such structures could then be killed by letal injections; alternatively, the entire structure could be lifted up and emptied on a boat. Crown-of-thorns starfish have been trapped using solely olfactory stimuli, and adding a visual stimulus could improve the procedure.

The sea cucumber pokemon is great because it not only can eject its organs like a real sea cucumber (though it makes a fist with its organs :P) but upon injury it horribly damages the other pokemon. Which is a thing sea cucumbers do when injured, to the chagrin of many an aquarist waking up to find their tanks poisoned.

Oooh a ravioli sea star!…I can never remember their real name so I always just call them ravioli sea stars

Actual researcher from the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Deep Sea Expedition

“So Chris stepped out, so we’re not going to get his idea of what this is”

“Well then ravioli sea star it is!”

“Sounds like a good name to me”

Quality Science In The Making

anonymous asked:

yanno what, seeing that art of yours of staryu/starmie variants, I'm still hoping that they will turn out to be prescient for the Alolan forms, especially the linckia/crown of thorns respectively

Im happy with any new echinoderms. Id love to see a new alolan set of staryu/starmie, but id be equally as happy to get some meatier more organic looking attempts at sea stars. If we can have dozens of foxes and cats and dinosaurs, I think we can do fine with a few more starfish in some form

At least one of of my dreams has come true


Stick urchin up! A sea urchin’s mouth is home to Aristotle’s lantern, a wonderful feeding apparatus complete with a complex set of jaws and five self-sharpening teeth. Food is brought to the urchin’s mouth and manipulated into position by rows of flexible tube feet. The teeth then chop food into manageable bits, while frilly gills provide extra oxygen to power the feeding frenzy. 

Sea urchin jaws are a force to be reckoned with. Not only can they strip a kelp forest bare if left unchecked, but these constantly replenishing Exacto blades can carve away custom-fitted nooks into rocky reefs—and our exhibit walls! When paired with a longevity of over 100 years, urchin density in dentistry puts perpetual pressure on delicate diversity.

But with a host of predators ready to tackle a spiny supper—from sea otters to wolf eels and spiny lobsters—urchins and their voracious appetites are part and parcel of the politics of kelp forest productivity.

Taking this zoology course really reignites my appreciation for the diversity in Spongebob Squarepants. It’s refreshing to see an underwater setting, even a really silly one, with something other than fish and the occasional dolphin. Out of the main characters, the only vertebrate is the token land animal.

Spongebob is a poriferan, Patrick is an echinoderm, Squidward is a mollusc, and Mr Krabs is an arthropod. Pearl is a vertebrate (yes the phylum is called Chordata I know), but she’s more of a secondary character.

And scallops really do swim like that. It’s pretty weird.

Spiny sand stars scour the seafloor incessantly for suitable sleeping spots and scrumptious sunken snacks.

Timelapse alert—Each second of this video represents 5 minutes in the life of these sea stars!

The tube feet of sand stars don’t have suction cups like their reef-dwelling cousins. Instead, they walk on triangular tippy-toes to run swiftly (for a sea star) across the shifting bottom. Once settled, they burry into the sand with their spines and mull over their meal hidden in their personal sandcastle