If seeing Finding Dory is part of your weekend plans, you’re not alone: Box office analysts are predicting that the new Pixar movie will likely open between $115 and $120 million. While you’re sitting around waiting for the movie start, here’s a little bit of knowledge you can drop about Dory’s species, the Pacific Blue Tang.
1. IT HAS A LOT OF ALIASES.
Though the fish's scientific name is paracanthurus hepatus, it's also known as Pacific blue tang, royal blue tang, hippo tang, regal tang and palette surgeonfish, among other things.
2. THEY HELP KEEP CORAL REEFS HEALTHY.
Blue tangs eat nothing but algae, and they’re instrumental in keeping the algae levels on coral down to a manageable level. Without the blue tang there to eat their fill, algae could overgrow and suffocate the reefs.
3. DON’T EAT DORY.
The Paracanthurus hepatus has poisonous flesh. Eating it may cause ciguatera, a foodborne illness passed on by certain reef fish that have toxins in its flesh. If you happened to accidentally ingest one, it probably wouldn’t kill you—but you’d likely come down with a bad case of diarrhea.
4. IT'S NOT ALWAYS BLUE.
Despite its name, the blue tang is not always azure. It can change color at night because of the way light is reflected from the pigments in its skin, becoming “whitish with a shade of violet.” Researchers believe its nervous system is less active at night, which may also affect its coloring. And juvenile blue tangs are bright yellow, which darkens as they mature.
5. IT CAN CUT YOU.
She may seem sweet in the movie, but the real-life Dory can (and will) cut you. The blue tang has a sharp spine that can stand erect as a means of self-defense. Because of this sharp, scalpel-looking spine, the blue tang is part of a family of fish known as “surgeonfish.”
With an estimated 95 percent of the world’s oceans yet to be explored, science may never have a complete catalog of the various life forms that navigate their depths. Sometimes, these odd creatures come to us instead. Inclement weather, outside forces, or just plain bad luck have led to some strange sea dwellers washing ashore to confuse—and sometimes terrify—onlookers until they can be identified.
Most recently the fangtooth snake eel, or Aplatophis chauliodus, appeared in Texas to cause a stir following Hurricane Harvey. Here are a few more examples of puzzling creatures that have recently landed in the sand.
In July 2008, a photo of what looked like the demon that possessed Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters made the internet rounds. “The Montauk Monster,” so named because it was discovered on a beach in Montauk, New York, was a curious-looking carcass that was not immediately identifiable. The animal wasn’t available for autopsy—it was carted away by person or persons unknown—but zoologists asked by media to examine the photo were fairly certain it was a decomposing raccoon that had lost enough hair and skin to reduce its charms considerably. Later, a trio of men from nearby Shelter Island admitted to finding a dead raccoon and giving it a "Viking funeral" by setting it ablaze on the water. Whether that’s true or not, the “monster” was almost certainly the same as the one partial to rooting through your trash.
2. THE INDONESIAN KRAKEN // 2017
Death and decomposition can radically alter the appearance of a species that might otherwise be easily identifiable. Such was the case with the 49-foot-long creature that popped up above the water at Seram Island in Indonesia in May 2017. The spongy, floating mass was initially mistaken for a giant squid before ocean conservationists pointed out a visible skull, jaw, and spine in some photos, making it far more likely that it was a baleen whale. Although they usually sink to the bottom after expiring, this one might have had bacterial gases keeping it afloat.
Ravaged either by the sea or by some kind of enemy—or both—the rotting corpse of a mystery creature washed up on Sakhalin, an island in Russia, in 2015. Its elongated beak led to early suspicions it was a dolphin, but observers were quick to point out that dolphins don’t have fur. That could’ve been some kind of skin deterioration, but eyewitnesses also claimed to have seen what looked like paws on the specimen. The best bet was that it was a bottlenose whale calf. Before a definitive conclusion was reached, the body washed back out to sea.
Looking much like a Cenobite keychain, this fierce little creature was allegedly plucked from the sands of a Cape Town, South Africa resort area by a tourist. Appearing to have a body comprised mostly of a mouth, the fanged horror was photographed and sent along to the University of Cape Town’s biological sciences department. Their best guess? It’s Chorisochismus dentex, or a klipsuier, a nibbler that feeds on mussels. The corpse had dried out, disfiguring its already troubling features.
Roughly 30 feet long, with pointed teeth and a gaping maw, this creature found on New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty looked quite a bit like the logo from Jurassic Park. It was so battered that speculation ran from an alligator to a moray eel. Marine biologist Anton van Helden went on record saying it was likely a killer whale due to its distinctive tail: Orcas can be found in New Zealand.
6. A GIANT EYEBALL // 2012
Very little news that emerges out of Florida could be considered boring. And when things wash ashore there, it’s almost certainly going to capture national attention. In 2012, a perfectly-intact, softball-sized eyeball was found on Pompano Beach, just about 10 miles north of Fort Lauderdale. The eerie, disembodied ocular discovery was forwarded to fish and wildlife researchers, who declared it once belonged to a swordfish. It can be rare to find individual body parts ashore—so why an eye? Because it was appeared to be removed with a knife, experts believe a fisherman cut it out and tossed it in the water.
Folly Beach in South Carolina was the site of an alarming discovery in 2012, when a bony-plated fish exceeding 10 feet in length was spotted on shore. The South Carolina Aquarium put speculation to rest by declaring it a sturgeon, a large bony fish with relatives dating back 350 million years—and which has been known to grow to be 500 pounds or more. Their eggs are often used for caviar, though presumably no one raided this one for a gourmet snack.
Hollingworth Lake near Littleborough, England sounds like the perfect setting for wonderful childhood memories of boating, fishing, and making lifetime bonds. Unfortunately, it was also briefly a contributor of nightmares, when a 5-foot-long, fanged creature washed up there in 2015. Likely a pike, residents said they had no idea anything so large lived in the water. One called it “something prehistoric.”
Lonely Guests at This Belgian Hotel Can Rent a Goldfish for the Night
BY Kirstin Fawcett
September 5, 2017
International travel can be lonely, which is why one Belgian airport hotel provides guests with an optional companion: a pet goldfish, rented on a nightly basis for around $4 U.S., according to The Independent.
Located near the Brussels South Charleroi Airport, the Hotel Charleroi Airport in Gosselies has offered fish rentals for several years now. “The idea was to surprise our guests, as we always try to do,” hotel manager David Dillen told The Independent. “It’s brilliant to see how people react to it. They smile, they take pictures to put on social media. We rent a few fish per week.”
Word of the unconventional service spread after New Zealand radio producer Michelle Cooke tweeted a picture of one of the inn’s scaly sidekicks swimming in a glass bowl. “My friend is staying in a hotel in Belgium,” Cooke wrote in her post. “They've offered her the option of renting a fish for the night, in case she's lonely.”
The tweet went viral, with some social media users arguing that the service is unethical towards animals, or that the hotel’s fishbowls are too tiny. Dillen addressed these criticisms, saying the goldfish are healthy and well cared for, with a “big fish tank in the housekeeping department, with a shelter, oxygen, and plants,” as he told The Independent. “When we think it’s necessary, we put them there for a few days.”
That said, if you don't have a good track record with fish, we recommend sticking with regular hotel amenities like free breakfasts and fully stocked minibars.