CREATURE FEATURE: Atlantic Mudskipper

The Atlantic Mudskipper (Periophthalmus barbarus) is a marine (saltwater) fish in the Oxudercidae family. It is similar to the Goby. It is also found in freshwater and brackish water. It is amphibious – it can live in the water and on land – but it is not an amphibian (like a frog or toad) because it does not have lungs. 

The Atlantic Mudskipper has a long brown or greenish body. During the mating season it develops coloured spots, such as red, green or blue. It has close-set, bulging eyes. It has forward fins that are similar to legs that enable it to walk, or skip, along the surface of the mud. It can even climb trees. 

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Dog Whelk Sea Snail

The Dog Whelk Sea Snail (Nucella lapillus) is a marine (saltwater) mollusc gastropod in the Muricidae family of rock sea snails. It is also called the Atlantic Dogwinkle. 

The Dog Whelk is usually whitish-grey, but it can be a variety of colours, such as orange, yellow, brown, black, or banded. It has a hard, external shell, called an exo-skeleton, that is smooth with a pointed spire. It has a short, straight siphon canal. The shell shape varies, depending upon the tidal waves, but it is usually rounded and spirally corded. Most of its body is made of whorls. The aperture (hole or lip) is quite wide.

The Dog Whelk, like other Sea Snails, has a single auricle (chamber) in its heart, and a single pair of gill slits for breathing. 

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Common Octopus

The Common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris) is a marine (saltwater) invertebrate (soft-bodied) mollusc in the Octopodidae family. Octopod means eight limbs. It is a cephalopod, related to the squid, cuttlefish, and nautilus. 

The Common Octopus has a soft hollow body called a mantle. Its body can change shape and squeeze into small gaps. The mantle has gills (to breath), a brain, and a parrot-beaked mouth. Surrounding the mouth is eight limbs with suckers. It has two large eyes with excellent sight. It has three hearts.

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Elegance Coral

The Elegance Coral (Catalaphyllia jardinei) is a marine (saltwater) photosynthetic coral in the Euphyllidae family of stony coral. It is also known as the Wonder Coral or the Ridge Coral. It is an animal, not a plant.

The Elegance Coral has large polyps with a large, branching coralite skeleton. The polyps have long tendrils and a large, fleshy, disc-shaped (round) mouth. It can be fluorescent green, lime green, and brown.

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Zebra Shark

The Zebra Shark (Stegostoma fasciatum) is a marine (saltwater) fish in the Stegostomatidae family of carpet sharks. It is an elasmobranch cartilaginous fish — a fish that does not have a bony skeleton.

The Zebra Shark has a slim, cylindrical body with a slightly flattened head, and a short, blunt snout (nose). It is pale with a pattern of dark spots that is different for each shark. It has five ridges along its body. It eyes are small. Its mouth is almost straight with rows of sharp teeth. It has gill slits on the sides of its body to breathe underwater. 

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What is the difference between the California Sea Lion and the South African Fur Seal?

What is the difference between the California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus) and the South African Fur Seal (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus)?

The California Sea Lion and the South African Fur Seal are both marine (saltwater) mammals in the Pinnipedia clade and Otariidae family of sea lions and fur seals. 

The California Sea Lion and the South African Fur Seal have external ear flaps. Therefore, they are both otariids.   

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South African Fur Seal

The South African Fur Seal (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus) is an aquatic marine (saltwater) mammal in the Pinnipedia clade and Otariidae family of sea lions and fur seals. It is an otariid or otary – a seal with external ear flaps – and a pinniped – fin footed. It is also known as the Cape Fur Seal or the Brown Fur Seal. 

The South African Fur Seal is grey-brown or black with a lighter underbelly, although the female is dark-brown. The male has a thick mane around its neck. It has a sleek, slender build with a thick neck, broad chest, broad shoulders, and a long, protruding face and nose. It has white whiskers on its chin called vibrissae. It has small external ears on the sides of its face. 

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Sandbar Shark

The Sandbar Shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus) is a marine (saltwater) fish in the Carcharhinidae family of requiem sharks. It is an elasmobranch cartilaginous fish — a fish that does not have a bony skeleton. It is also known as the Thickskin Shark or the Brown Shark. It is related to the Bull Shark.

The Sandbar Shark has a bluish-grey or brownish-grey streamlined body, with a very high, triangular dorsal (back) fin and long pectoral fins. It has a white underbelly. It has a broad, rounded snout and large, round eyes. The upper and lower jaws each have 13 or 14 triangular-shaped teeth.

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Yellow Boxfish

The Yellow Boxfish (Ostracion cubicus) is a small marine (saltwater) fish in the Ostraciidae family of boxfish.

The Yellow Boxfish has hexagonal scales that form a solid, triangular box-like shell called a carapace. The male and the female look similar. It is bright yellow at birth and the colour fades as it ages. It is yellow with blue-black spots, which are smaller on its white underbelly and larger on its sides.  It has a small mouth and large, bulging blue and yellow eyes.

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Blue Coral

The Blue Coral (Heliopora coerulea) is a species of hard marine (saltwater) coral in the Helioporidae family of octocorals. It is an animal, not a plant.

The Blue Coral has a blue skeleton made of calcium carbonate. Often it is hidden by individual greenish-grey or blue polyps that live in tubes within the skeleton. Each polyp has eight tentacles.

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Spotted Scat

The Spotted Scat (Scatophagus argus) is a marine (saltwater) fish in the Scatophagidae family of scats. It is also called the Red Scat, the Ruby Scat, the Green Scat, Tiger Butterfish, or Tiger Scat. 

The Spotted Scat is varied in colour from greenish brown to red-brown to silver, with many brown spots. It is rounded in shape and laterally compressed. It has a rounded snout (nose). 

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Small European Locust Lobster

The Small European Locust Lobster (Scyllarus arctus) is a marine (saltwater) crustacean in the Scyllarus family of lobsters. It is also called the Slipper Lobster, the Lesser Slipper Lobster, and the Broad Lobster. Crustaceans include crabs, crayfish, and shrimps.

The Small European Locust Lobster is a decapod with ten legs, including a pair of claws. It has a reddish-brown exo-skeleton. Its abdomen has six segments, ending with a flattened, fan-shaped tail called a telson. It has a dark-brown spot in the centre of each abdominal segment. It also has dark-blue rings around each segment. It has eye-stalks. It has gills to enable it to breathe oxygen from the sea water. 

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Greater Pipefish

The Greater Pipefish (Syngnathus acus) is a small marine (saltwater) fish in the Syngnathidae family of seahorses, pipefish, and seadragons. Acus means needle.

The Greater Pipefish looks like a thin, straight seahorse or a small sea snake. It is a long, tube-like, cyclindrical brown-coloured fish with a small mouth. Its snout (nose) is a long tube ending in a narrow mouth which opens upwards and is toothless. It has a dorsal (back) fin, which is always moving because it helps the Pipefish to swim. It has small gill openings, called slits, which enable it to breathe underwater.

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