Sea anemone eating a sand shrimp carapace

Om nom nom

I spend a surprising number of meal times feeling grateful that I am not a shark or feral cat or other wild animal, and that in general I can be reasonably sure of at least one or two good meals, if not three. Uncertainty about meals must be incredibly difficult – I suppose sharks are accustomed to it? – and as a result most creatures eat as much as they can whenever food is available.

Sea anemone eating a sand shrimp carapace
Sea anemone eating a sand shrimp carapace

We don’t often see creatures eating while we dive. It seems to be something that takes place very quickly, with a fair amount of competitive behaviour! Here are some of my favourite mealtime photos from recent dives. Above is a sight we see fairly frequently at Long Beach. There isn’t a creature inside that carapace – it’s long deserted – but the anemone is having a good munch.

Spiny starfish are quite voracious feeders, fairly unusual among our local starfish in that they will eat mussels and other meaty treats as opposed to a pure vegetarian diet. This one appears to be feeding on a sand sea slug. The characteristic hunched body shape indicates that he is feeding. When eating mussels, spiny sea stars will extrude their stomachs into the mussel shell and digest the meal outside their bodies.

Feeding spiny star fish
Feeding spiny star fish

Here are some juvenile maasbanker who joined us for a couple of dives at Long Beach in March. They’re nibbling on our bubbles, and on other food in the water column.

Maasbanker at Long Beach
Maasbanker at Long Beach
Maasbanker at Long Beach
Maasbanker at Long Beach

We found this little tableau while exploring one of the boiler wrecks near Ark Rock. The brittle star is covered with small yellow, white and black ornate amphipods (Cyproidea ornata) – they look like bumble bees – and it’s possible that the warty pleurobranch is targeting them as its next meal. He’s walking between two radial sea pens.

Brittle star is not having as much fun as the warty pleurobranch
Brittle star is not having as much fun as the warty pleurobranch

Tony took this video of a little feeding frenzy near the barge wreck at Long Beach one morning. The klipfish are rapidly supplanted by dark and puffadder shysharks, who look very much like their larger relatives as they gulp down the dead fish. Watch out for the school of juvenile maasbanker, too.

To conclude, here’s a sea cucumber. Surprisingly, he is neither full of food, nor feeding (appearances can mislead!). According to George Branch, via the good people at SURG (check out their Q&A section – as you can see on the 2011 Q&A page, I’ve been menacing them this year) this cucumber has been disturbed by something. He’s contracted his longitudinal muscles, giving rise to the shortened, fat shape. With time he’ll relax again to his normal shape.

Swollen sea cucumber
Swollen sea cucumber

You can also check out the hungry rock lobster, and the non-sweet eating octopus, for previous food-related posts!

Published by

Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

2 thoughts on “Om nom nom”

  1. Hello there, Clare.

    Talking of sea feasts, I saw a fantastic TV episode in the Nature’s Great Events series (on BBC Knowledge last night) about the sardine run off South Africa’s coast. The cinematography was amazing. Check-out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGKa8wlXvhk to see a short clip of the gutsy French cameraman, Didier, at work!

    Sadly, the official sites videos aren’t visible locally via http://www.bbc.co.uk/naturesgreatevents/tide_sardine.shtml :(. But I guess that’s BBC’s way of saying buy it on DSTV or DVD!

    Enjoy,
    Travis

Leave a Reply