We are to our final day of Fishmas. As you are now all professional ocean ID experts, I present one of the most difficult to figure out. It may take a little outside the box thinking but I think you can get it.

Edited Photo: Brandon Smith




Did you guess starfish (sea star)?

Starfish are not fish at all but invertebrates and are now referred to as sea stars. They are in the phylum echinodermata, which means spiny skin. Also in this pylum are brittle stars, sea urchins, sand dollars, sea cucumbers and crinoids.

Sea stars have a water vascular system that pumps sea water through their veins instead of blood. Sea stars move with the use of tube feet, which are part of the water vascular system. By pumping water they can create suction with the feet for locomotion or feeding. Most sea stars feed on mollusks, with many focusing on bivalves (clams, mussels, etc.). They suction onto the shell of  a bivalve with their tube feet and slowly pull the shell open. Sea stars only have to pull the shell partially open to feed on it due to the unique property of their stomachs. They they can evert their stomach outside of their body and insert it into the thin opening of the mollusc shell, digesting it outside their own body. While most feed on mollusks some are specialized feeders, like the crown of thorn sea star, which feeds on coral polyps.

Sea stars, like most echinoderms have the ability to regenerate lost limbs. Some can even regenerate into several organisms if cut up, as long as part of the central disk remains. It takes about a year for a limb to grow back completely and the sea star is more susceptible to infection when it first loses a limb. Some sea stars even reproduce asexually using this method by making their limbs easier to break during periods of abundant resources.

We are nearing the end. Since you should be experts by now, I’ll throw a tough one your way. Can you guess the name of this fish?

Edited photo Brandon Smith, Original Gerald Allen




Did you guess Tinsel Squirrelfish?

Photo Courtesy Gerald Allen/

The Tinsel Squirrelfish is found in the Eastern Pacific from California to Ecuador. It is nocturnal spending the day in rocky crevices. It emerges to feed on intertidal crustaceans at night. Like the other squirrelfish in its genus the peropercle spine is venomous. It is occasionally sold in fresh fish markets in its range.

We are winding our way down to the end of Fishmas. Here is day ten for you to figure out. Scroll down for the answer.

Photo: Brandon Smith




Did you guess a Skate?

Photo courtesy ARKive/Andy Murch


Skates are cartilaginous fish related to sharks and stingrays. Skate vary from stingrays in several ways. Stingrays have live birth while skates lay eggs in a leathery shell, often referred to as mermaids purses when they wash up empty on the shore. Unlike stingrays, skate do not have a venomous spine on their tail; although, some skates’ skin will have prominent spikes/thorns which are modified scales (aka dermal denticles). Some species of skates can also generate a weak electrical current with an organ in their tail. This is thought to be used for communication, possibly for finding mates.

Photo courtesy ARKive/D.R. Schrichte


Skates also have a finger-like flap of iris that can extend over their pupils, called a pupillary operculum. It is believed that this flap helps skates to increase their field of vision and detect motion better.

On the Ninth Day of Fishmas

by Brandon 2013/01/02 East Central

Hope you weren’t missing your Fishmas fix as we were away for the holidays for a few days. So here is day nine of Fishmas. Can you guess this organism?   . . . . Did you guess ice worm?   Ice worms were unknown until their discovery in 1997, a half mile deep on […]

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On the Eighth Day of Fishmas

by Brandon 2012/12/29 East Central

Here is another fun fish for you to guess. The actual one looks almost as peculiar. . . . Did you guess pinecone fish?   Pinecone fish, a.k.a. the pineapple fish, have hard armored scales protecting their bodies. They spend their days resting in caves or rock ledges in the Indo-Pacific around Australia. They come […]

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On the Seventh Day of Fishmas

by Brandon 2012/12/28 East Central

We are over the hump and are coasting to the end. Here is your seventh day. . . . Did you guess Chinese mitten crab? Though prized as food in China, with crabs coming from one particular lake fetching over $50 a pound, they are considered a nuisance in Europe and North Amercia. These crabs spend most […]

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On the Sixth Day of Fishmas

by Brandon 2012/12/27 East Central

So we are halfway there. How have you done so far? The next one is for all our Jewish friends out there, because Fishmas accepts everyone. Can you guess this fish? Scroll below for the answer. . . . Did you guess Candlefish?     The candlefish (Thaleichthys pacificus) is a type of smelt found […]

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On the Fifth Day of Fishmas

by Brandon 2012/12/26 East Central

I hope everyone had a good few days off and those of you who are in the classroom are still enjoying your time off. Here is your next Fishmas installment. The answer is below. . . . Did you guess a decorator crab? There are many species of crabs throughout the world with various common names that […]

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On the Fourth Day of Fishmas

by Brandon 2012/12/25 East Central

Merry Fishmas to everyone. I hope those of you above the water have a great Christmas today, under the water everyone is getting into the spirit and decorating. Can you guess what this is? . . . If you said Christmas tree worm you are correct. This worm is often found burrowed into coral. The […]

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On the Third Day of Fishmas

by Brandon 2012/12/24 East Central

We’re going to try something a little bit harder. Can you guess the name of this one?   . . Need a hint? Bah! or how about “It’s Christmas Day! I haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night.” Did you guess a humbug damselfish?   Also known as a whitetail […]

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