Marine Biology at its Best!

By Mike S
Moon Jellyfish; Photo by suburbanslice

Moon Jellyfish; Photo by suburbanslice

In the field of marine biology, there have been many new discoveries. Some are new species, others are missing links. This post will show you some of the newly discovered species as well as some other fascinating marine species. This is a newspaper article from Hawaii about a Giant Jellyfish also known as, Anomalorhiza shawi. This jellyfish, although rare and hardly seen, is not a recent discovery. This giant jelly was found in Kane‘ohe Bay, Hawaii. This is extremely rare for this species to be in tropic waters. Anomalorhiza shawi is usually found in colder waters around the Philippines. This is only the second sighting of the giant jelly since 1983. The jelly’s “umbrella” is about 2 feet in diameter. They do sting but they don’t have one that is strong enough to hurt a person too badly. Click here to see footage of the huge animal for the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

Another jellyfish that is commonly seen and not thought about much is the Moon Jellyfish, also known as Aurelia aurita, saucer jelly, and common jellyfish. It is relatively small only measuring at around 5-40 centimeters. The jelly has many different color and dot patterns on its bell. Like the giant jellyfish, the moon jellyfish’s sting is mild. The moon jelly prefers swimming closer to the surface of the water. Doing this helps their tentacles cover more area so they can grab something to eat. An interesting fact about the moon jelly is that they have what is called rhopalial centers. Rhopalial centers allow the jelly to control the rate at which their bell pulses. This, in the end, allows them to control their respiratory rate when the oxygen level is too low.

The Common Dolphin is not the dolphin you’re thinking of. The common dolphin goes by other names such as Mahi Mahi (which means strong strong in Hawaiian), Dorado (meaning gold in Spanish), Coryphaena hippurus or the dolphinfish. The dolphinfish is a fish, unlike the other dolphin which is a marine mammal. The common dolphin usually has a blue dorsal fin and upper part and progressively gets into a light green color. They are also known to have gold on their bodies. The common dolphin is found in tropical waters in the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans. They move around or migrate a lot and are found in schools around coastal areas or even in the open ocean. The diet of the Mahi Mahi is usually squid and crustaceans, but ranges to other fish and zooplankton, which are microscopic organisms that drift around the ocean.

"A Very Nice Mahi-Mahi" by manoellemos

"A Very Nice Mahi-Mahi" by manoellemos

The Mola mola, or Common Mola, is an ocean sunfish. They can reach enormous lengths. The largest being over 10 feet long and weighing almost two and a half tons. Most of their body is their head and behind the head there are two large fins called sweeping fins. In most pictures and sightings the sweeping fins appear to be on the side of the fish because of its position but really it is on the top and bottom of the fish. On the shark-like, sand paper-feeling skin there is a layer of mucus. This layer of mucus is extremely important to the fish. It is important because of its diet which consists of different jellyfish, Portuguese Man-O-War, and jellyfish-like zooplankton. The jellyfish could injure the Mola mola without the mucus and the Portuguese Man-O-War has been known to kill people. So the mucus is vital to the survival of this species. The mola has also been known to eat small fish, deep sea eel, serpent star parts, and sponges. According to studies, a four and a half foot Mola mola female produces over three hundred million eggs (that’s 300,000,000 eggs)! The Mola mola has one of the most eggs per female out of most other fish. This is again vital to the growth of the species. Because of the mola’s close relation to the puffer fish after a larvae hatches, it has what appear to be spikes around its body. After growing up to a full grown Mola mola, it has many predators to worry about. One being parasites. On average a mola has over 40 different species of parasites in and on its body!

Mola-Mola (uglyfish) by Burnblue

Mola-Mola (uglyfish) by Burnblue

This video is about the Mola mola ocean sunfish.

Another great picture of a Mola mola; photo by Ilse Reijs en Jan-Noud Hutten

Another great picture of a Mola mola; photo by Ilse Reijs en Jan-Noud Hutten

The Great White Shark is my favorite animal in the ocean. The Great White Shark is obviously a type of shark. It is also know as Carcharodon carcharias, but it has many names: White pointer, white shark, manila shark, and even Man-Eater. It has generally two colors blue and white. White Sharks generally grow to huge lengths of twenty feet and weighing over five thousand pounds! Although huge, they are known to be extremely fast, mostly because of its torpedo shaped body. They also have extremely dark, usually completely black eyes that almost look like glass. The Great White Shark has an extremely large habitat range from California to Africa. They also have an appetite that matches the habitat’s size. Whites eat a huge variety of food. They eat a lot of marine mammals such as elephant seals and sea lions. They also eat a wide variety of fish. The Great White would not be able to have such variety in their diet if it wasn’t for their razor sharp and large teeth. The shark has many rows of these teeth so that when a few fall out the are replaced as soon as possible.

The Great White Shark is probably best known from the hit movie, Jaws (1975). This movie, admittingly good, really struck fear into the hearts of swimmers and people around the world. The movie is based off of a shark that was caught off the coast of New Jersey in the 1970’s. It was caught by Frank Mundus (October 21, 1925-September 10, 2008), whom my dad and I knew. The shark was 4,500 pounds. Mundus was the inspiration for the character Captain Quint, in Jaws. One of Captain Quint’s most famous quotes actually gives some factual information about sharks but also strikes fear into people:

“Sometimes that shark he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about a shark … he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be living … until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then … ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’. The ocean turns red, and despite all the poundin’ and the hollerin’, they all come in and they … rip you to pieces.” -Captain Quint, Jaws (1975)

One fact in there is that they have black eyes and the other is that their eyes roll back when they bite to protect them because they don’t have eyelids.

Most marine animals are not well appreciated and the purpose of this post is to give some appreciation for these animals. The more people known, the more they have to respect.

Why aren’t Giant Jellyfish often seen in tropical waters?  Why is the Mahi Mahi, Dorado, or dolphinfish commonly called the Common Dolphin?  What are some downfalls and positives to being extremely migratory?  What are some advantages of having such a large head?


    Great post Mike. I reasearched your question “Why are giant jellyfish not often seen in tropical oceans?” On google and found a lot of interesting stuff. I found information on, I found out that giant jellyfish are somtimes found deeper out in the tropical oceans.

  • Science Online 2010 and the Neighborhood Kids – Community and Role Models « TGAW

    [...] pulled up and gave a tour of a Dynamic Periodic Table that helped him. High school freshman and blogger Mike spoke about how he gained insight from blogs and the usefulness of emailing experts to learn more. [...]

  • Matt C.

    Mike this article was very interesting and was a very well written article. I took it upon myself to answer one of your questions. The question I decided to answer is “Why aren’t Giant Jellyfish often seen in tropical waters?” Well due to my research I found it they travel north and away from tropical waters due to global warming and warming weather. I’ve learned my information from two different websites. One is The other website that I found my information from is I hope my research was helpful to you and your article.-Matt C.

  • Lionel

    This was a very interesting post, with a unique topic. Interesting fact about sharks, I never knew that Captain Quint used factual information when he said that. I found an answer to your question “Why is the Mahi Mahi, Dorado, or dolphinfish commonly called the Common Dolphin?” The common dolphin is often referred to as the “dolphinfish,” to distinguish it from dolphin of the porpoise family, which is an unrelated mammal. You can read on about this at this site.

  • Sean

    Mike I enjoyed reading your article as well, it was well done and it contained many interesting facts. I decided to reply upon your question ” What are some downfalls and positives to being extremely migratory?”,A simple advantage of being migratory is that certain animals that breed in areas that endure colder winters might have less food available at the time being so traveling to different enviorments with groups of its species could be an advantage because they could migrate to a large feeding area and spread out among the area, an example of this would be seals. You can read some more about this at these links.

    Migration – Advantages Of Migration

  • Erin

    Mike, your post was really interesting! My family is full of fisherman. I’ve always been interested in learning about what they don’t catch, the less common species of fish in the ocean. I was doing some research about the Common Dolphin and came across the Pompano Dolphin. The Pompano dolphin is rarer than the Common Dolphin and that is partly due to misidentification. It is often mistaken for a young female common dolphin. It can be found offshore in North Carolina, Bermuda, and some parts of Florida. Also, it is found in the areas around 45 degrees North and 45 degrees South. This encompasses the Azores, Canary Islands, Madeira (love it there!) and Senegal. It is oceanic and rarely found in coastal waters. They tend to dwell in water above 24 C under lines of seaweed and debris in the water. The two species have remarkably similar body structures. Pompano dolphins are one of the most colorful pelagic game fish. The dorsal surface is bright blue and green, and has golden or silver accents over their body.

  • Vasiliki

    You wrote a very interesting article. What I wanted to find out after I read this article was how Great White Sharks find their food. I did some research and found out that they have a special sense called electroreception. This means they could detect electrical currents. Then, I wondered what electricity had to do with underwater habitats. Any movement in salt water makes small electrical currents. The salt in the water contains sodium and chlorine ions, which have an electrical charge. These ions separate and move freely, transporting electricity.

  • Jesse

    Very interesting article Mike! I found out how about every fish finds their food by using photoreception which is used to see basically like a human. Except they have different types of shades that the fish can change in case of the weather(
    Also, an old thought was that fish can smell out their food. Well, this is false because they use the photoreception only because they cannot have a sense of smell like that ( The way they do part of this though is by picking up chemical signals which is almost like smelling.

  • Rohit

    Great post Mike.I liked how you didn’t talk about just one animal, but talked about several. It was interesting reading about all of the different names that animals have been called.
    Why aren’t Giant Jellyfish often seen in tropical waters? They aren’t found at tropical waters because they like to live in cold water and deep in the sea. The size of the jellyfish effects where it lives. The bigger it is means that it will live deeper in the sea. Here is a website that talks about where jellyfish live:

  • Sam

    This was a very interesting article Mike and its really cool you knew one of the inspirations for Jaws. After reading the comments i was looking at Matt’s resource and this website was interesting because it explained not only that the jellyfish migrate north, but why they do. First the article explained that when fishermen throw their nets into the ocean it is quite a disappointment to come up with a net full of jellyfish. Due to the warm weather jellyfish started to migrate north for cooler temperatures. Also more and more bacteria was spreading in the warm waters and the jellyfish escaped from that by migrating north. These are the sources I used:

  • Vincent

    Great post Michael. I find this very interesting. Mola Mola is a very interesting looking creature. They are the largest bony fish. They can grow up to 11 feet long.
    Sometimes they lay on the surface of the sea for thermoregulation. This a picture of a Mola Mola doing this.
    To regulate the parasites on their body small fish will swim and remove these parasites.

  • Jack

    Great post Mike. Marine biology is a very interesting and diverse feild. There is so much we still don’t know that it is pretty cool to learn. Seeing the differences between behaviors of deep sea fish and fish near the surface, there is are still a lot of things we can find. Many fish near the surface live in schools for survival, as the more fish that exist in the school, the more likely the school will survive. Schools can also be a good place to find nearby mates. Deep in the ocean there is practically no light and no visability. Certain fish need to latch to their mates (like the angler fish) just to reproduce. Some deep sea species of marine life have evolved to hide in plain “sight” and have become almost completely transparent.
    Can anyone else find some wierd marine life?

  • Mike S

    @Jack-I found this wierd fish that lives in the depths of the ocean. It is called a glass squid. It is very transparent. It is very rarely seen because it is only found at 1500 square miles below sea level. It is also only found by an extremely long underwater mountain range in the Atlantic Ocean.
    [ ]
    They are small, usually less then one inch. Glass squid are considered mollusks.
    [ ]

  • Vasiliki

    Great post! After reading this article I was curious where the name “Jellyfish” comes from. Their name originally comes from the jelly-like substance in between their two layers of skin. But the second part of their name is a bit inaccurate. Jellyfish aren’t fish. They belong to a group called “Cnidaria”, which makes them close relatives to sea anemone and coral.

  • Jong

    Excellent post Matt. To answer Jack’s question, I researched for other marine specimens. I came across with a peculiar fish named the Barreleye Fish. This fish seems to have eyes inside its transparent head. It’s eyes are essential for its survival because they are able spot both predators and preys due to its ability to look horizontally and vertically. The barreleye fish feeds itself from jellyfish which is why it is so important that the eyes are protected from the constant shocks it receives while eating it.
    What advantages are there when one can see a predator from underneath?? Are there any disadvantages??

  • Joseph

    Great job Mike! I actually thought this post was extremely interesting and fun to read because I love learning about new species and different types of animals, especially marine life.
    I answered to Jack’s question to see if anyone can find anymore interesting marine species, and I did, on Giant Jellyfish, which relates to this topic. The Nomura, the world’s largest jellyfish, ruins a day’s catch because it kills all the fish when they are tangled up in the net. Here is a website explaining how climate change is making jellyfish like the Nomura to migrate to more tropical waters and how it is ruining the fishing industry off the coast of Japan:
    This is a link to a You Tube video explaining how jellyfish are ruining fishing in Japan:
    Here is a link to another You Tube video showing the wonderful Nomura jellyfish:
    The Nomura jellyfish can way up to 440 pounds, and up to 6.5 feet in diameter! The combination of over fishing and high levels of nutrients in the water has been linked to jellyfish (like the Nomura) blooms. Here is another link telling about these wonderful creatures: http://dsc.discovery. com/news/slideshows/monster-jellyfish.html

  • Alec Freudenstein

    Jack, I have found some very strange sea creatures.

    For example, the “Yeti Crab” caught my attention while doing some research. Stories Yeti or the abominable snowman describe the creature as being very hairy, like a bear. Well, the Yeti Crab has very hairy claws like the mythical Yeti, which is why researchers gave it this name. These hairy claws are not just for show, they are actually farming spaces for microbes. The Yeti Crab was first discovered south of Easter Island in the South Pacific in 2005. This fascinating creature was lives in hydrothermal vents at about 7,200 feet below sea level along the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge.

    The information from my previous post was found on:

    Also, pictures of these amazing creatures can be found on:

    Also, a transparent cucumber was seen creeping on its many tentacles while sweeping detritus-rich into it’s mouth. It was seen in a 2007 voyage 1.7 miles below sea in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

  • Michael L.

    Michael, this is a great post and I like the way you described Marine Biology at the way fish using their ‘photoreception’ in order to sense out their food. Which is the way that we see because we use photoreception except ours is just more advanced. What I found very interesting was that fish have taste buds and they dislike certain types of food. Fishes also have very bad sense of their surroundings because they can only see up to about 15 feet which limits their range of finding food. I received my information from:, .

  • Vasiliki

    In my opinion, the movements of jellyfish are relaxing. Their jellylike skin opens and lets water in. Then, the jellyfish closes the skin while pushing all the water out. Compared to ocean waves their tentacles aren’t so strong. If they get washed up on the shore they cannot get back in the water. Eventually only the skin of the jellyfish would still be there, the inside would evaporate.

  • Al Ulrich

    Very cool post, glad I stumbled upon the site here. I had no idea that a female mola mola produces 300 million eggs. Do their larvae have an extended pelagic phase?

  • Zach

    Great post Mike! I researched Jack’s question, and I found a very unusual type of species. A type of cephalopod, called the nautilus, is an unusual type of creature. It lies in the octopus and squid family, but immediately, there are no resemblances. But, the nautilus in fact has a beak like the squid and octopus, and can also squirt ink. But in contrast, the nautilus lies on a different type of behavior.
    The nautilus lives on the slope of coral reefs, which at night, go to for food. The nautilus moves by moving backwards, shell first. The means of propulsion is the hyponome, which pushes out water and makes the creature move forward. Its tentacles can detect predator movement and the location of prey. It then uses its beak to crack open shells, and then swallow what is inside the shell. The nautilus is an unusual creature, but its relation to octopuses and squids relied over time, in which both cephalopods lost their shells over an extended period of time.

    Links: Nautilus Facts:

    Video of Nautilus (BBC):

  • Anonymous

    Wow, great post Mike. I was able to relate to your post because i am HIGHLY interested in aquatic life. To answer your question of “What is the advantage of Having a Big Head?” Well, for that a big head is a huge intimidation factor. Usually when a fish goes in for an attack it looks for vulnerability. But, when you have a massive head, you look like a ferocious animal, and not an animal that another fish would like to encounter. In this video, if you look at the beginning when Mola Mola is coming through all the fish swim as fast as they can away. Also, in the back round you see sharks. The Mola Mola is the heaviest bony fish. They would have a lot of meat, but the sharks, are intimidated.

  • Hannahboo

    Miss Baker, Whats your first name? I used this website as a resource for my science project. And im doing my citations. Thanks so much! :)

  • Ms Baker

    Hi Hannah.  Thanks for stopping by our website.  My first name is Stacy.  Good luck on your science project!

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