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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sea Things #1: Flamingo Tongues

Introducing a new feature for my blog: Sea Things! I don't blog about scuba diving very much, because few of my regular readers are divers (maybe that's a Catch-22 - perhaps I'd have more diving readers if I blogged about diving more?). Anyway, since the ins and outs of scuba probably aren't super interesting, I thought I'd talk more about the fabulous things that we see underwater. Each of these posts will include a photo and some interesting facts about the animals that Todd and I see underwater. (This also gives me a chance to show off Todd's photos!)

From 2009 Bonaire - Best of Resized

Meet the Flamingo Tongue. Flamingo Tongues are just all over the place in Bonaire, and people love finding them. They are a mollusk, and their scientific name is Cyphoma gibbosum. They are carnivorous, and they eat sea rods, sea fans and gorgonians. They leave a little trail of munched-on sea rod behind them. Don't worry, the sea fans and such usually bounce back quickly and the Flamingo Tongue doesn't really kill them. Usually, they are about an inch long, and if you come up on a sea fan, gorgonian or sea rod, you can often find one or more out and about on them. On a gorgonian, check on the very bottom near the base, or on the thicker part of it.

From 2009 Bonaire - Best of Resized

Flamingo Tongues are very cool. Often, you can see their little mollusk-foot sticking out from under them, which they use to move. They have neato spots on them, which sometimes you can't see because they're actually on tissue that is on the outside of the shell. They can retract this tissue, and when that happens you don't get to see their spots.
There isn't a diver hand signal for a Flamingo Tongue that I know of, but I made one up while underwater in Bonaire this spring, and Todd knew what I was talking about when I did it, so I suppose I've created a hand signal. What I did was to put up an index finger on one hand and then grasp around the finger with my other hand, as if I was a Flamingo Tongue on a sea rod.
I've seen a LOT of Flamingo Tongues, and they're found in all of the diving destinations where we have been thus far. Lately, I have been searching for their rarer cousin, the Fingerprint Cyphoma, but I haven't found one. I saw a Fingerprint Cyphoma once in Bonaire in 2007, but I hadn't been diving long enough to know how rare they are. Only one Fingerprint Cyphoma is found for every 10,000 Flamingo Tongues. While I've found a lot of Flamingo Tongues, I haven't found quite that many.

From 2009 Bonaire - Best of Resized

Is there a creature that you would like to see featured in Sea Things? If so, shoot me an email and if I can, I'll write about it.

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