Tag Archives: Sea Creatures

Beautiful Creatures – Flying Fish

flying fish

In order to glide out of the water, a flying fish (Latin name “exocoetus”) swishes its tail to up to 50-70 times per second,which “vibrates” to produce enough speed to burst through the surface. It then spreads its pectorial fins and tilts them slightly upwards to lift itself to glide through the air. This permits it to sail above the ocean’s surface where it can at travel at 70km per mile. The fish is able to increase its time in the air by travelling against or at an angle to the direction of updrafts created by a combination of aircurrents in which the “wings” flutter due to the wind with a maximum glide time recorded to be 30 seconds. At the end of a glide, a flying fish folds up its pectoral fins which have been acting as “wings” to re-enter the sea or drops the lower end its tail into the water where it “vibrates” the lower part of its tail to allow its body to reaccelerate and change direction, providing the thrust to lift itself for another glide.

In 1900 to 1930s flying fish were studied as possible models used to develop airplanes.  There are about 50 species grouped in seven to nine genera. Flying fish are found in all of the major oceans, particularly in the warm tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.  Historically the country of Barbados was nicknamed as “The land of the Flying fish”. Today it remains the official national fish for the country and it was in the Caribbean that I first saw them.  I looked down from a deck  above the bridge of a cruise ship and for a moment wondered why the captain was playing with paper airplanes! Then I realized who they were and spent a wonderful afternoon watching them ride and play enjoying the updrafts caused by the ship as we sailed passed Dominica!

Beautiful Crystals – the Mermaid’s Aquamarine

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Aquamarine, the gem of the sea, is named with the Greek word for sea water.  Aqua sparkles like the sea and its color is pale to medium blue, sometimes with a slight hint of green. Aquamarine is a member of the Beryl family (which includes emeralds). Its blue / blue-green color comes from ferrous iron – a double refraction of light from different angles within the stone causes it to reflect the two different colors.

Aquamarine is the birthstone for March and legends say that it is the treasure of mermaids coming from their tears; with the power to keep sailors safe at sea. Aquamarine is said to be a particularly strong charm when immersed in water – which is a good thing, since that is when its power is most needed! Aquamarine was also said to have a soothing influence on land, also on married couples. Its power is supposed to help husbands and wives work out their differences and ensure a long and happy marriage, which makes it a good anniversary gift. Traditionally, it has been held as the gem for the nineteenth wedding anniversary. Aquamarine is said also to protect  against the wiles of the devil.

Aquamarine, March’s birthstone, is the universal symbol of hope, health and youth. A traditional protection for travelers, it was said to prevent seasickness, quicken the intellect and enhance courage.Wearing this stone is to enhance one’s personal power and help to project an aura of strength.

Long used by royalty, Egyptian amulets of the XII Dynasty (circa 2000 BC) included Aquamarines carved into the forms of animals. 

Aquamarine is found in Brazil, Zambia, Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria, and other countries. However the majority of Aquamarine comes from Brazil, even though the finest Aquamarine is mined in Africa.

Beautiful Phenomena – the Black Pearl of Great Price

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For thousands of years, most seawater pearls were retrieved by divers working in the Indian Ocean  in areas like the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and in the Gulf of Mannar. Starting in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), the Chinese hunted extensively for seawater pearls in the South China Sea. When Spanish conquistadors arrived in the Americas, they discovered that around the islands of Cubagua and Margarita, some 200 km north of the Venezuelan coast, was an extensive pearl bed.

One discovered and named pearl, La Peregrina, was offered to the Spanish queen.   According to Garcilasso de la Vega, who says that he saw La Peregrina at Seville in 1507,  it was found at Panama in 1560 by a black slve who was rewarded with his liberty, and his owner with the office of alcalde of Panama.

Black pearls, frequently referred to as Black Tahitian Pearls, are highly valued because of their rarity; the culturing process for them dictates a smaller volume output and can never be mass produced. This is due to bad health and/or non-survival of the process, rejection of the nucleus and their sensitivity to changing climatic and ocean conditions. Before the days of cultured pearls, black pearls were rare and highly valued for the simple reason that white pearl oysters rarely produced naturally black pearls, and black pearl oysters rarely produced any natural pearls at all.

In a Christian New Testament parable, Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a  “pearl of great price”  in Matthew 13: 45-46. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”

The language of symbolism was in common use around the time of Jesus Christ; most people were familiar with the symbolic meanings. The circle is a symbol of God because it has no beginning and no end. The circle or pearl was considered to represent Love and Knowledge.  The combination of equal amounts of Love and Knowledge is a symbol of Wisdom; the 2 circles intertwined – owl eyes – is symbolic of Wisdom. Some other pearls are Truth, and Faith.  Pearls are also important in Hebrew, Islamic and Hindu scriptures – the  Ayurveda contains references to pearl powder as a stimulant of digestion and to treat mental ailments.

Beautiful Sea Creatures – The Feather Star

Feather Star (Antedon bifida)

This feather star has ten thin pinnate arms with branches which make it look feather-like. Around the base there are about 25 short cirri and these curl underneath to anchor the animal to the ground. The arms are pink or red with white speckles. The arms are around 5 cm in length.

This is a very unusual species and is one of the last remnants of an ancient and largely extinct group of marine Echinoderms – the crinoids. The feathery arms produce a large surface and by being held upwards they collect plankton and detritus from the water. Cilia on the surface beat to drive the material down to the mouth to be consumed. They have separate sexes with the gonads being located on the arms.

Feather-stars are found in a variety of habitats, mainly sheltered, and attached to rocks and algae. Sometimes they are found in very large numbers (possibly up to 1000 per metre squared). They are not, however, commonly met and the distribution is limited somewhat to the southern Atlantic coastline of Europe.

Feather Star (Antedon bifida)

This item is taken from the Seashore Website which is full of useful and fascinating information