An earlier post showing an weird fish pic has just been linked to by Fark.com, and we’ve had a sudden flurry of visitors and comments about it (go and join in!). Because I have form in the weird fish pic category, here’s one we took on a Field Course in the foothills of the Alps in 2006. It is *NOT* photoshopped. It is a genuine photo, and it genuinely happened. The fish were in the duck egg at the bottom of the pond… This made big news back in 2006 (we first sent it to New Scientist, thengot on page 3 of The Sun (!), as well has on the BBC website,, and a 5-page spread in Chinese kids magazine Young Copernicus…
Here’s what we wrote in New Scientist:
On a field course in the foothills of the French Alps in July 2006, some of our students noticed a seemingly intact duck egg in a small pond. It clearly contained something moving. When we broke the shell we found three live minnows (Phoxinus phoxinus) inside (see Photo). Do any readers know for sure how the fish ended up here?
This alarming photo shows a rainbow trout fingerling peering from the mouth of a northern pike as it is about to be eaten. The unsettling scene was captured in January 2001 at an aquarium in Anchorage, Alaska, by Jim Lavrakas.
Filed under Fish, Predation
Parrotfish are major grazers of the algae that grow on coral reefs. Protecting them from over-fishing may be decisive for the survival of reefs in the Caribbean. Sea urchins can also do the trick. That’s the take-home message of a Nature article, most of which consists are rather hard to follow mathematical modelling – ecology is not all (or even at all) about tree hugging! There are some very tough sums involved!
BBC article (includes loadsavideos of parrotfish doing stuff); Nature article (not for the faint-hearted or those without a subscription).
Otters have been sighted in the middle of Edinburgh. No news on them romping about in the Medlock as yet, but you never know. (The Medlock is the river at the lowest point of Oxford Road, near the BBC. The University is technically in Chorlton-on-Medlock, which in 1843 Friedrich Engels described as being one of the vilest places on the planet…)
Salmon have returned to the Mersey, and soon the name of Parr’s Wood may again be appropriate. (“Parr” is an old English term for salmon fry. Parr’s Wood is a rather unprepossessing part of South Manchester, near the Mersey. Apologies to anyone who lives there and loves the place)
Depressing BBC article about the threats of bluefin tuna stocks. The story, as ever, is one of over-fishing – even the Spanish Fisheries Ministry admits as much.
Super pictures of life on coral reef in Australia.
Filed under Fish, Images, Oceans
My favourite display at Blue Planet Aquarium is of the Cichlids (pronounced SICK-lids) from East Africa. They were looking a bit sad this year. There’s an excellent “Primer” article from Current Biology (open access) about them and the way they are speciating.
You may remember the massive Amazonian Arapaima (callled Harry) from your visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium. Well this year, it wasn’t there. A couple of months ago it managed to escape by jumping out of its tank – all 2m of it! – and sadly died, flopping on the floor. It has been sent to the Natural History Museum in London, where it turned out to be a female… Click here if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
Moray eels possess a second pair of evertible jaws which come out and bring prey back into the throat, once it’s been seized by the nasty teeth you can normally see. Excellent set of videos and articles at the Nature website (you or your institution will need a subscription to see the full articles). The News & Views article describes the research as “a classic example of discovery-based science, stemming from an inspirational ‘oh wow!’ moment”.
News and Views piece; original article; videos.
A female bonnethead shark (part of the hammerhead family) gave birth to a pup (yes, some sharks are viviparous – this was very important for realising that mammals have eggs. Read my book!). What was interesting is that she had not been in contact with a male – it was a case of parthenogenesis, unusual in such a large animal. Original article in Biological Letters (open access), BBC news item.
Filed under Fish, Oceans, Sex