Social Distancing Inspired By the Big Blue
It’s true, social distancing is SO important right now! We are all adopting an altruistic approach to slow the spread of COVID-19, keep our communities safe, and limit our exposure to non-essential destinations. Social distancing can feel a bit isolating at times. In today’s blog, we will visit and gain inspiration from some sea creatures that are experts on social distancing. The ocean’s wildlife can teach us a thing or two about how to do it right. As always, feel free to comment and share more thoughts and ideas!
Whale Sharks, Always!
Photo Source: Georgia Aquarium
If you read our recent blog on Rhincodon typus, the whale shark, you know how incredible they are! Not only are they the biggest shark out there, but they are also quite literally the biggest fish in the sea! They are absolute naturals at social distancing. Their length is about 18-33 feet, which definitely meets the 6-foot social distancing minimum. In addition, they are mostly solitary animals, which means we rarely see them in groups. They have a laid back, calm, and slow demeanor. This can inspire us to slow down, take time for ourselves, and not worry about being in large groups during this uncertain and dire time. Thank you, whale sharks!
It’s (Peanut Butter) Jelly Time!
Photo Source: Oceana
It’s all in the tentacles! Jellyfish are a widely diverse group of invertebrates. They have a huge range of color, size, adaptive hunting ability, and level of toxicity. The Lion’s Mane jellyfish, Cyanea capillata, is the largest jellyfish in the world! Their bell, or body, is about 1.5-6 feet in length, but their tentacles can reach up to 120 feet in length! They can have over 1,000 tentacles protruding from their body! This DEFINITELY meets the social distancing recommended length and shows other predators or prey in the ocean to stay back, or they could get stung!
A fun fact about this kind of jellyfish is that they have the ability to create and emit light. This is called bioluminescence. Generally, deep-sea fishes and fireflies have this ability and use it to light their way in a dark environment. Jellyfish also use this ability to startle predators and defend themselves. This is a great lesson to create our own “light” in a very “dark” situation. What kinds of activities have you been working on? Skills you’ve been improving on? Positivity or light that you’ve been spreading to yourself or others lately? A lot of environmental enthusiasts are looking at the bright side of cleaner air and water with reduced human activities in the United States.
What’s Up On the Reef?
Photo Source: Shark Sider
The grey reef shark, Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos, is the perfect social distancing example. On average, they grow between 6-7 feet in length (yay!). They are found in the Pacific and Indian oceans in tropical reefs, lagoons, or coral atolls.
Generally, the grey reef shark will hunt at night when they are more active. During this social distancing and shelter-at-home period, we have all been getting more sleep, and perhaps eating more, too! This shark will eat anything from squid, octopus, to crustaceans and bony fish. Although the grey reef shark is social, they will hunt alone. Other commonly used names fro the grey reef shark are blacktail reef shark, black-vee whaler, gray shark, gray whaler shark, and longnose blacktail shark.
Grey reef sharks are a near-threatened species. Unfortunately, they are commercially fished for human consumption and also associated with a high number of human attacks annually. This type of shark is very peaceful and will not attack unless they feel threatened or scared. Oftentimes they will display and warn divers or humans when they feel threatened and show posturing and a threatening display. They are a great example of how we must advocate for sharks, promote responsible ecotourism practices, and encourage sustainable seafood choices and practices.
Rock On, Rockfish
Photo Source: Nature Time
A whole group of fish in the Scorpaenidae family are really rockin’ this social distancing movement. Rockfish are an extremely solitary group of fish. They are very long-lived and can spend a large portion of their life camouflaged on the ocean floor or hiding underneath rocks. There are over 100 species of rockfish. Their fins are heavily spined and their bodies have bony plates for structure, shape, and protection. They are found in rocky reefs, the deep sea, and kelp forests. These fishes’ entire lives depend on staying hidden, safe, and solitary (most species). This can give us hope that our temporary situation may help our communities in the long run, and there are ocean creatures that do this their entire lives! Some rockfish have been known to live as long as 150-200 years of age.
During your time at home and social distancing, take advantage of the various ocean live-cam opportunities, virtual tours of museums and aquariums, and endless resources to help educate yourself, your family, and friends. There is no better time to learn more about our oceans, the species that call them home, and the critically endangered wildlife that still needs our help during this difficult time.
Thank you for reading and supporting Respect the Fin during this pandemic. I hope you all stay safe and healthy!
Written By: Bailey Higa