What is that???

By Todd Gardner 10 years ago11 Comments

Can you guess what this thing is?  You get two hints: 1. It’s appearing on Reefs.com,  and 2. It was taken at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, NY.  That’s all I’ll say for now.  Place your bets.  There’s only one rule:  If you have inside information, you can’t play.  After all, this isn’t Wall Street!

  Contest, Photography

 Todd Gardner

  (71 articles)

Todd Gardner is a professor of marine biology at Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead, NY. His life and his career have both been shaped by his passion for marine life and he has written numerous scientific and popular articles about his research and experiences collecting, keeping, and culturing marine organisms. Todd’s professional background includes work on a National Geographic documentary, commercial aquaculture at C-quest Hatchery in Puerto Rico, and an 11-year term at the Long Island Aquarium where he spent much of his time developing techniques for rearing marine fish larvae. To date he has raised more than 50 species. In 2013 Todd received the prestigious Aquarist of the Year Award from the Marine Aquarium Society of North America (MASNA). In his spare time, Todd dives, photographs marine life, runs marathons, and plays in a blues band.


  • Jared Goldenberg says:

    How specific do we need to get?

    • Todd Gardner says:

      You can be as vague as you want, but to win the big prize (my respect), you should at least narrow it down to family.

  • Ashleigh Gardner says:

    Well, I certainly wouldn’t mind winning the big prize :)… However, I may have just a little too much inside information to compete.

  • Boomer says:

    Am I aloud to cheat Todd 🙂

  • Lebreef says:

    Is this part of the long filaments of the Liopropoma you are trying to raise? The buoyancy/yolk sac thing?

  • Jared Goldenberg says:

    I was way off but that is really cool. Any info on the structure and why it looks like that? Besides the buoyancy it looks like it’s meant to lure predators away from the fry or at least give it better odds.

  • Todd Gardner says:

    Buoyancy is definitely one important function. Some other hypotheses include: mimicry of a stinging cnidarian tentacle, mimicry of other fish larvae (viewed from the top at advanced stages, the pattern of black pigment makes the sacs look like they have eyes), nutrient storage, nutrient uptake. There’s a lot we don’t know about them. I hope to get some histology work done on them soon.

  • Tal Sweet says:

    Does each larvae seem to have the same number of these things?

  • jeffbollbach says:

    Is that actually phosphorescent?

  • Todd Gardner says:

    Tal, the filaments start out very uniform in size. Then as the sacs develop and they continue to get longer, I start to see a lot of variation, mostly, I believe, because they start to break off. I think if a filament doesn’t get broken, it can reach even more absurd lengths than you see in any of these videos.
    Jeff, I haven’t noticed any bioluminescence (I don’t let it get dark enough in the tanks). The brilliance of the spots in the photo is just a result of my flash reflecting off the pigment cells.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.