Playing - this playing sea lion is in a very silly and good mood. Sea lions spend a lot of time on land where they are on the clumsy side. But when they go into the ocean, they become fast and agile. They are as flexible as a gymnast and can bend, twist, and hang upside down. Like us, they have lungs, and this female came close to me and blew bubbles right at me. I could see her laughing almost. Do you like blowing bubbles?
Walking - a Caledonian stinger is just an amazing fish. It walks across the ocean floor using the two bones closest to the bottom as if they were toes. It looks like a chicken walking, and it leaves funny tracks in the sand. They also like to lie in the sand. When they wiggle their bodies, they dig a hole in the sand where they can hide. Do you like to hide sometimes?
Staying home - this octopus’ home is a jar. She lives here with her family. The octopus is very happy because the jar is the perfect size for her and her hundreds of eggs. Look to the left and at the bottom of the jar. The grey dots are her eggs. They are perfectly protected by the jar’s strong glass. The mighty octopus keeps an eye on the jar opening while making sure all her eggs are safe and sound.
Dreaming big - this little goby surely got itself a grandiose home in a big empty crab claw. The goby could have chosen many other places to live on the reef, but this claw is now home for the tiny goby. It is always good to have big dreams, and this full-grown goby now lives in a palace. What are your big dreams?
Fishing - frogfish are excellent at fly fishing. Their rods are attached to their foreheads from where they cast their lure out. It is a filament that sometimes looks like a small delicious shrimp. Once a hungry fish gets tricked into thinking it will catch that shrimp, the frogfish leaps forward in the blink of an eye and gobbles the fish up in one single mouthful. The frogfish leaps so quickly, it is considered to be the fastest fish in the ocean. What do you like to gobble up?
Matching - a beautiful red crab lives on a red sea fan. The crab cleverly picked this sea fan because it perfectly matches the color of the crab’s body. Even the white stripe on its back looks exactly like the white polyps on the sea fan branches. Regardless of where the crab goes on the sea fan, it can’t be seen. Its color keeps it perfectly safe. A perfect match!!
Piggybacking - yes, animals sometimes piggyback! This beautiful shrimp is piggybacking on the back of a nudibranch. The nudibranch doesn’t seem to mind, as the shrimp does not seem too big for the nudibranch to carry. They both travel around like perfect friends. Do you like to piggyback? Do you piggyback a brother, sister, or friend?
Bulldozing - this coconut octopus is making its home using its body as a bulldozer. Who knew! This octopus is called a coconut octopus because it likes to find coconuts shell on the bottom of the ocean, moves in, shut them and, makes a home out of them. The octopus in this photo has chosen a shell instead. It can be very heavy to carry, but this octopus must be extra strong. It carries a huge load and moves sand all at the same time.
Running - rather than slithering across the bottom, this octopus was standing right on the tips of its tentacles. Then it started running across the sandy bottom. It actually sprinted! With eight arms, no wonder it was very, very fast. Maybe it was running away from something, or perhaps it was just having fun being fast. Do you like to run?
Racing - this nudibranch surely looks like it is racing around a corner. For us, it is in slow motion, but it is high speed for a sea slug. The nudibranch is very careful where it goes because hydroid algae on the reef can sting it. It can sense these hydroids before touching them and races around them as fast as it can.
Camouflaging - while some animals pick a background to match their color, some animals choose a background that matches the shape of their bodies. This harlequin ghost pipefish has the same color as the sea whips. It also disappears because the lighter skin color matches the shape and color of the sea fan’s white polyps.
Yawning - fish don’t yawn when they are tired like we do. Fish extend their jaws and lips when they are tired of somebody being too close to them or in their space for too long. This scorpionfish tries to scare the intruder off by yawning and showing off all its teeth. The open mouth makes it look a lot bigger than it really is to be extra scary. When do you start yawning?
Calling - a pike blenny is “calling” with its mouth wide open. It doesn’t make any sound, but it is calling just the same. This blenny attracts attention by the bright colors found inside its mouth. It also has a dorsal fin that it uses for attention. It is big. And it works, especially among its friends. Another kind of fish may not quite understand the pike blenny’s calling, but for the most part, the pike blenny really just wants to talk to its friends. Who do you talk to?
Decorating - this crab is not just carrying its shell around; the crab decorated it too. This shell has an armor of anemones. The anemones’ stinging tentacles give the crab an extra layer of protection. The crab is super safe, and the anemones get to travel for free. The anemones also make the shell look very fancy. What is your favorite dress-up?
Molding - all crustaceans such as crabs, shrimp, and lobsters—have hard outer shells that keep them safe. Just like your hair keeps growing, the outer shells of crustaceans keep getting thicker and thicker. Sometimes the shells get heavy, which makes it hard for the animals to move. When that happens, the crustaceans get rid of the extra layer by anchoring their feet to the reef and then pulling the entire shell off in one piece, like pulling off a sweater. They now can start over, all new and clean. Spic and span!
Hiding - this goby is trying to hide under some soft coral polyps, and it is doing a great job. Its body has the same color as the soft coral tree trunk. Only its big green eyes are showing. Gobies are often found on the soft coral having fun playing hide and seek. The gobies do all the hiding! Do you like to play hide-and-seek?
Spitting - the jawfish is very specific when it comes to choosing a place to live. It lives at the bottom of a hole it builds. It uses bits of coral to create strong walls. As the sand falls into its home, it uses its mouth to remove the sand and spit it as far as it can, keeping its home perfectly clean. How do you clean your room?
Carrying - here is a crab carrying an upside-down jellyfish. How smart is this! The jellyfish’s stinging tentacles protect the crab by pointing up and out, rather than down, as jellyfish tentacles usually do. The crab is completely protected and can move around as it pleases. The crab is safe, and the jellyfish doesn’t have to move anywhere—the crab does it for the jellyfish! Do you have a favorite toy you like to carry around?
Sleeping - fish can’t close their eyes because they don’t have eyelids as we do. They sleep with their eyes open. This beautiful goat fish found a spot for the night right on the sand. Like you change into pajamas, the goatfish changes color to match the colors of its surroundings. The two whiskers under its chin, called barbels, are like a goat’s whiskers. This is how it gets its name. The goatfish uses its whiskers to dig in the sand for food. Its favorite food is shrimp. Do you have a favorite food?
Fanning - we sometimes fan ourselves to get cool and comfortable on a hot day or to fan insects away. A crab’s fans are attached to its arms, and they are very useful because they are built-in fishing nets. Like you raise your hand in class, the porcelain crab raises its arms as high as possible and catches as much food as it wants. What food would you raise your hand to get?
Signaling - fish don’t use words as we do. They have many other ways to communicate. One way is to use signals to get each other’s attention. These dragonets have very colorful back fins (called dorsal fins). The fin is so big it looks like a sail. With lots of busy patterns, the big fin is easy to see. Other dragonets can see it from where they live, low on the ocean bottom.
Scared - This little anemonefish is all by itself in its own anemone. Anemonefish most often use the anemone’s stinging tentacles to stay protected, but this little anemonefish jumped into the anemone’s mouth and peeked its small head right back out. It surely was safe there, yet it also came out pretty quickly when it knew there was nothing to be concerned about. Have you ever felt like hiding?
Surprised - these blennies are excellent gardeners. They actually spend a lot of time tending to the algae around their burrows. They keep the algae they want to eat and weed out everything they don’t want to eat. But even if you know your neighborhood and you are close to home, there sometimes are situations that can surprise you. Something must have swum over this blenny that surprised it. Just look at its eye. Have you ever been surprised?
Shy - this baby diamond leather jacket is trying its best to hide behind a piece of algae. It almost works. Though it is just a little one, the diamond leather jacket already knows to pick algae the same colors as itself to hide behind. It is also smart to take hold of the algae by its mouth because that keeps it in place. These fish do tend to get brave and venture away. They just want to make sure all is well. When do you get shy?
Smiling - Everyone likes to smile because it makes us feel good. It is easy to be around anyone who is smiling and upbeat. Eels are very friendly animals. This moray eel looks like it is smiling. And why wouldn’t it be? It lives in a perfect crevasse, there is lots of food to eat, the sun is shining, and lots of friends surround it. What makes you smile?
Happy - this is a face of a very happy speckled face blend. This blenny has several burrows in the reef that it darts among. You have to pay attention if you want to catch a glimpse of one. They are super fast and easy to miss because they rarely sit still for more than one second. Big colonies of these blennies can be found on some reefs, and it is no wonder they always are so happy. They are surrounded by happy bennies, all busy being busy and happy. What makes you happy?