The Marine Science Institute's monthly column, Science and the SeaTM, is an informative and entertaining article that explains many interesting features of the marine environment and the creatures that live there. Science and the SeaTM articles appear monthly in one of Texas' most widely read fishing magazines, Texas Saltwater Fishing, the Port Aransas South Jetty newspaper, the newsletter of the Texas Chapter of the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association , and the Heartland Of America online newspaper. Our article archive is available also on our website.
Visit most any coral reef in shallow tropical waters and you will likely see colorful parrotfish gliding by, busily grazing on algae. These herbivorous fish are more than just a pretty sight — they are swimming sand factories.
The 80-some species in the parrotfish family get their name from a unique feature: Their front teeth are fused to form plates that resemble a parrot’s beak.
When you’re lying on a soft, smooth sandy beach, it can feel like the most tranquil place on Earth. But that seemingly peaceful sand is constantly in motion, thanks to the forces of wind and water.
On their own, groupers and moray eels are two fearsome coral reef predators. Groupers feed by gulping down prey in the open water, while morays can pursue fish into hiding places in a reef. But when the two team up to hunt, they’re a lethal team, leaving prey with nowhere to swim or hide.
Many things make marine iguanas unique. After all, they are the world’s only sea-going lizards. But perhaps their most amazing trait is that they have the ability to “shrink” in response to environmental changes.
Think of nature’s great migrations and you might imagine birds flying over continents or antelope crossing the African plains. But European eels make a journey that is even more incredible.
Countless illustrations and museum displays depict the battle between two of the ocean’s most fearsome predators, the sperm whale and the giant squid.
In real life, sperm whales often bear battle scars from a giant squid’s massive tentacles, or gashes inflicted by its sharp beak. But scientists have found that some sperm whales with damaged jaws or even no teeth at all have stomachs full of squid. How can these whales find and take down such fierce prey?
For many people, anchovies are simply the pizza topping they love to hate. But the humble anchovy - along with another silvery little schooling fish, the sardine - triggered scientists to look closer at a Pacific Ocean phenomenon.
Researchers have found that Pacific anchovy and sardine populations seem to take turns ruling the waters at intervals of about 25 years. When Pacific temperatures are slightly higher than normal, sardines thrive; when temperatures cool down, sardine numbers decline and anchovy populations flourish.