November 9 – Go Fish!

Today’s factismal: There are more species of fish than there are species of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals combined!

One thing that everyone knows is that 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. But what many don’t realize is that all of that water isn’t empty; instead, it is full of living critters from the microscopic plankton to the huge blue whale (which happens to eat those plankton). And, though most of the critters that live in the ocean are too small to be seen with the naked eye, most of the diversity in the oceans is reserved for their most popular residents: the fish.

Goldfish swimming in a pool (My camera)

Goldfish swimming in a pool
(My camera)

Because the ocean is so large, it offers a huge variety of places where fish can live (ranging from abyssal depths to sunny shallows) and an amazing variety of things that the fish can eat (ranging from yet more plankton to each other). And that variety of options has created a similar variety of species. At last count, there were more than 32,700 known species of fish and about 250 more were being added every year.

A yellow tang looking for algae (My camera)

A yellow tang looking for algae
(My camera)

That variety of fish has in turn led to a singular new website called Fish Base. At this portal into things piscatorial, you can discover everything from the common name of the Carassius auratus (goldfish) to the feeding habits of the yellow tang (they eat algae on reefs). If you are a budding ichthyologist or looking for help on a science fair project or just hoping to discover something new about fish, then this is the site for you! And, as always, they are looking for help from citizen scientists in identifying and describing those new species. So swim on over!

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