Food for Thought : Part One

By Becky

It could be that the scientists naming these marine creatures were just particularly hungry that day, but here are the good, the bad, and the barmy names of marine creatures named after food!

We’ll start off with breakfast, with some pancakes, a fried egg, and fruit!

Pancake batfish

The Pancake batfish (Halieutichthys aculeatus), might look more appetising covered in chocolate spread, or the classic lemon juice and sugar combo (anyone else now craving pancakes?). However, its colouring is vital protection against predators, and it blends right in on the ocean floor! Fun fact: Two new species of pancake batfish were discovered in 2010, in the area directly affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill!

Fried egg jellyfish

The Fried-egg jellyfish (or egg-yolk jellyfish) (Phacellophora camtshatica), is a very large jellyfish, with a bell up to 60 cm (2 ft) in diameter, and tentacles at 6 m (20 ft) long! Fun fact: Due to its weak sting, many small crustaceans are bold enough to ride on the bell, and even steal food from its oral arms and tentacles!

Lemon shark

When life hands you lemons… you drop them because you’re a shark with fins… The lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris) gets its name from its slightly yellow colouring, perfect camouflage when swimming over the sandy bottom in its coastal habitat! Fun fact: Lemon sharks are also polyandrous – where a female has more than one male partner.


The Pineapplefish (Cleidopus gloriamaris), is only found in Australia, and its specific epithet, ‘gloria’ and ‘maris’ means ‘glory of the sea’. It is also known as the knightfish or coat-of-mail fish, due to its armour-like scales, or the port-and-starboard light fish, as it has a pair of bioluminescent organs in its lower jaw, reminiscent of navigational lights on a ship. That’s a lot of names for one little fish!

There are two organisms named after the humble banana!

Banana wrasse

The Banana wrasse (Thalassoma lutescens), also known as the canary wrasse, is named after its bright yellow colour.

Banana wrasse by @davidclode

Banana wrasse by @davidclode

Banana moray eel

However, the Banana moray eel (Gymnothorax miliaris), looks way more banana-y! It is one of the longest moray eels in the world, growing up to 70 cm in the wild.

Cherry barb

The Cherry barb (Puntius titteya), is a popular aquarium fish, probably due to its striking good looks! However it is also under threat from overfishing and habitat loss.

Orange-peel doris

A rather unusual name, the Orange-peel doris is a nudibranch or sea slug. Its bright orange colour is aposematic – which is the concept of warning colouration. This signifies to predators that it is inedible in some form, such as due to toxicity, sharp spines, or aggressive nature etc. Fun fact: when handled, these sea slugs often smell of sandalwood!

Still peckish? How about a bit of salad!

Lettuce sea slug

The lettuce sea slug (Elysia crispata), is called as such due to its large frilly parapodia – or lateral fleshy protrusions. Colours vary, and can include blue and green, with purple, red, or yellow lines.

Tomato clownfish

The tomato clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus), is also known as the blackback or brindled anenomefish, or more excitingly the fire clown! Like Nemo, these fish form symbiotic mutualistic relationships with anenomes. Fun fact: What Nemo didn’t tell you, clownfish are protandrous, meaning that they develop into males first, and when they are mature become females!

Tomato clownfish by @picsbyjameslee

Tomato clownfish by @picsbyjameslee

Continuing with the salad theme, we also have the well-known sea lettuce and sea cucumber! Now where’s that sea salad dressing?

Garlic bread sea cucumber

The Garlic bread sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra), not only have an amazing name, but are also amazing at looking after their habitat! Like a vacuum cleaner, these sea cucumbers ingest small particles algae, and waste, and break it down internally to be recycled back into the ecosystem. This results in more stable oxygen levels within the sediment. However they are at risk from overfishing, due to commercial harvesting.

Sea cucumber by @kevskoot

Sea cucumber by @kevskoot

Chocolate chip sea star

The chocolate chip sea star (Protoreaster nodosus), or horned sea star, is named for the protrusions on its body, which look like either milk or dark chocolate chips. Whilst these protrusions are intended to scare away predators, they’re just making me rather hungry!

Please look up these amazing creatures, especially the chocolate chip sea star! Yum!

Look out for Part 2 coming soon!

Thumbnail image by @davidclode