December 10, 2018
Contact: Heather Soulen

Five Smartphone Wallpapers that Will Warm Your Heart This Holiday Season

Every smartphone comes with a selection of wallpapers -- backgrounds for your home and lock screens -- that give our phones a bit of personality. Sometimes they simply don't reflect our spirit, a season or a favorite holiday. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered! Enjoy these fun and festive wallpapers that blend the marine life of our region with the holiday season. Download your favorite today!

Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries/Heidi Marotta

Hang a Benthic Star upon the Highest Bough

Did you know that some sea stars, or starfish, have more than five limbs? The red and white common sunstar (Crossaster papposus), seen just right of center, may have as many as 16 arms! Almost just as remarkable is their ability to regenerate missing limbs. They can do this because their vital organs are found in their arms, rather than in their core. In fact, each arm has a full copy of vital organs. This means that as long as the center part remains intact, most sea stars can continue living and regenerate missing limbs as needed. These sea stars were collected during the 2014 spring bottom trawl survey at a station in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Cape Cod National Seashore. You can find this and other invertebrate photos in our invertebrate photo gallery. Want to learn more about sea stars and other echinoderms? Then check out the Echinoderm blog!

Photo credit: Kevin Raskoff, Hidden Ocean 2005 Expedition: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration.

Every Time a Bell Rings, a Sea Angel Gets Its Wings

This delicate shell-less pteropod (Clione species) is commonly called a sea angel. They’re usually found from the Arctic to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. This particular specimen was photographed in the Arctic during the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration’s Hidden Ocean Expedition. Pteropods with shells are called sea butterflies. Both shelled and shell-less pteropods have jelly-like, transparent bodies and an adaptive foot that they flap like wings to move around in the ocean. We sometimes see pteropods in our Ecosystem Monitoring (EcoMon) survey samples. Jerry Prezioso, chief scientist during the spring 2017 EcoMon Survey wrote about finding sea angels in his cruise blog.

Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries/Heather Soulen

Jingle Shells, Jingle Shells, Jingle All the Way

Jingle shells (Anomia simplex) are typically found in the shallow waters from Nova Scotia to the West Indies. These are among the most abundant and easily recognized shells found on beaches within their range. Their color runs from lemon yellow to copper red and they maintain their iridescent shine even after death. Many beachcombers make necklaces or wind chimes out of the shells. Why are they called “jingle shells?” It’s because of the sound they make when the shells clink together. Learn more about these bivalves from this University of Rhode Island website.

Image courtesy Edie Widder; NOAA Operation Deep Scope Expedition

Tiny Fish with Their Eyes All Aglow

Shortnose greeneye fish (Chlorophthalmus agassizi) have fluorescent green pigment in the lenses of their eyes that helps them distinguish among shades of blue -- the dominant color of the environmental light and bioluminescent light in the deep sea. Many prey organisms that can’t outswim predators like the shortnose greeneye have a handy super power: they produce bioluminescent light on the undersides of their bodies that acts as a kind of cloaking device, camouflaging their silhouettes from predators beneath them. This anti-predation behavior is called counterillumination. The shortnose greeneye’s specialized lenses evolved to “one-up” prey counterillumination. We’ve collected shortnose greeneye fish during our bottom trawl surveys. You can read about them in this spring 2017 bottom trawl survey blog. To learn more about the deep sea expedition that observed this fish, please visit NOAA’s Operation Deep Scope Expedition website.

Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries/Heather Soulen

I Want a Hippocampus For Christmas

Seahorses are marine fish that belong to the genus Hippocampus. Normally we think about seahorses as a tropical species, but they’re also found in colder waters like those of the Northwest Atlantic, as well as around New Zealand, Argentina, and the United Kingdom! Most wild seahorses are monogamous with some species mating for life. During mating season, the female will deposit her eggs into the male’s kangaroo-like pouch where he then fertilizes them. He’ll carry the developing seahorse embryos until birth. Yes -- male seahorses give birth. We have seahorses at our Science Aquarium in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. If you’re going to be in Cape Cod over the holidays, be sure to stop by our aquarium to see them! You can find aquarium information and hours of operation on our aquarium website. How do male seahorses give birth? Check out this Smithsonian Channel video to find out.