Wednesday 17th November 2010
The Marine Biological Association was at the BBC's Live n Deadly Roadshow in Plymouth city centre on Sunday 14th November, showing some live and fascinating marine animals, from starfish to toxic algae.
Sticking to the deadly theme was no problem, as many marine animals are armed with an extraordinary array of weapons and defences to catch prey or avoid being eaten.
Did you know that sea slugs feed on sea anemones and hydroids and take their stinging cells to use as self defence? The tips of the colourful spines along a seaslugs back contain the defensive stinging cells ( nematocysts) of the sea anemones and hydroids. Find out more at: www.marlin.ac.uk/lzspeciesreview.php?speciesid=3067
Some gastropods (sea snails), such as necklace shells, dog whelks and sting winkles have quite gory ways of killing things. Their tongues are like drills and they can make a neat hole in the shells of other gastropods (e.g. limpets) through which they inject digestive juices (enzymes) and then suck out the mush. Slurp! Find out more at: www.marlin.ac.uk/lzspeciesreview.php?speciesid=3913
Some of the most efficient and deadly predators of all are relatives of slugs and snails! The cuttlefish, octopus and squid are cephalopod molluscs with some pretty cool kill techniques. All three are masters of display and camouflage; cuttlefish and octopus not only change colour but can also change the shape and texture of their bodies to blend perfectly with their surroundings or communicate with others of their species. Their mouths are surrounded by arms (also called tentacles) which have rows of powerful suckers. Prey is grabbed using the arms (squid and cuttlefish shoot out a pair of special feeding tentacles) and dragged in to the mouth. The mouth has a sharp beak and cuttlefish and octopus also have a venomous bite which contains neurotoxins to paralyse their prey. The beak slices off chunks of food which is then rasped to bits by an abrasive tongue. Find out more about cuttlefish at www.marlin.ac.uk/lzspeciesreview.php?speciesid=4333
The Marine Biological Association runs an outreach programme which includes free online resources to help the public identify and record UK marine life, and projects and events for schools and young people. Find out more at: www.marlin.ac.uk/education.php
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