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1350x0x Hide-and-seek in the sand at Kemer

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  • TRH
    Jun 3, 2006
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      [See more at: http://www.TurkRadio.us/kemer/ ]

      x0x Hide-and-seek in the sand at Kemer


      Numerous creatures wage a struggle to survive in their nests in
      the sand. Some find the solution in changing colour; others hide.

      Darwin's theory is the story of the plants and animals that have been
      successful in the evolutionary process. In other words, the creatures
      that survive today, the ones that have managed to remain in existence
      by avoiding disease and predation. Those who succeed in perpetrating
      their species as weaker species die out have certain characteristics
      that help protect them, for example, a superior immune system or the
      ability to divorce themselves from the environment in which they live
      by hiding. Many underwater creatures have developed the ability to
      camouflage and conceal themselves as protection against their natural
      enemies. Some blend into their surroundings by changing their colour
      or shape in times of danger. Those that lack this ability pursue a
      simpler strategy for evading their enemy: hiding.

      The underwater environments most conducive to hiding are rocks and
      seagrasses. There are also some creatures that choose sandy places
      where survival is extremely difficult. When you walk along the
      seashore, you assume that the gulls fleeing the waves on the sand are
      the sole form of life. The same illusion of lifelessness continues
      under water. You assume at first glance that there is no life
      whatsoever on the seemingly endless sea floor, that this underwater
      environment is a virtual desert. But first impressions can be
      misleading. Numerous plants and animals are waging a life-or-death
      struggle in underwater nests of sand. The difficult part is seeing


      Numerous fish, such as sole, red mullet, striped mullet, red band
      fish, skate, Atlantic lizardfish, weever, stargazer, razor fish,
      saupe, sea bream and striped bream, choose the sandy areas in the
      crystal clear waters at Kemer for their habitat.Some of these
      creatures change shape or colour so as not to be seen. Atlantic
      lizardfish, cuttlefish and octopus fall into this category. Those who
      lack the camouflage capability conceal their bodies under the sand.

      Only the eyes remain exposed, for example, of the skate, which burrows
      under the sand for short periods. Waiting patiently here for its prey,
      it seizes the most opportune moment to attack. When small fish,
      unaware of the ambush laid for them, approach sufficiently close, the
      skate darts out of the sand and catches them. While lizardfish,
      cuttlefish and sole employ the same strategy, the weever makes doubly
      sure with its poisonous stinger.


      Fish are not the only ones to use a hunting strategy that involves
      hiding under the sand. Molluscs such as crabs and prawns and
      cephalopods like the cuttlefish employ a similar strategy. Two species
      of prawn, Sicyonia carinata and Penaeus japonicus, and a species of
      crab, the Ilia nucleus, hunt in the same way as the skate. The only
      difference between them is their hunting times. Unlike fish, these
      molluscs hunt not during the day but at night. Night or day, however,
      hunting in this way always involves the risk that the predator will
      become the prey.

      Predatory nocturnal molluscs like the crab and prawn whet the appetite
      of cephalopods such as octopus, sepia and squid. While some species of
      octopus, the most intelligent of the underwater creatures, bury their
      bodies in the sand in order to hide, the more visible species change
      their pattern or colouration. Sepia and squid also camouflage
      themselves in this way. The Sepiola-type squid, on the other hand,
      which is no bigger than a coin, employs both camouflage and
      concealment to avoid being seen. Catching sight of these tiny sepia,
      which only come out at night, requires expertise.


      Although the underground sands may appear endlessly vast, they offer
      inadequate nesting space for underwater creatures. Sometimes a number
      of different creatures can be forced to use the same area. Due to
      shortage of space, different species and, mostly, related species
      fight over these 'sand nests'. When challenged by a related species,
      one species of crab, the Ilia nucleus, has to make a decision.

      If he fights, it is either to win a prize, like some valuable food,
      living space, or a mate, or simply not to lose. The outcome of the
      fight is not entirely random of course. Thanks to its pincers, which
      are larger and stronger than those of other creatures, the large crab
      is likely to be the victor in any struggle. Divers exploring the sea
      bottom often see a leg or pincer, or even the entire body of a crab,
      left from a fight waged the previous night. Such lost body parts are
      an indication of how savage these struggles can be.


      The predator-prey relationship exists not with creatures from outside
      the habitat but generally between actors who share the same living
      space. A species of sole, the Solea solea, makes itself invisible by
      lying motionless on the sandy bottom. It has no need to bury itself in
      the sand since it is hardly distinguishable from the sea floor in
      and colour. Because it can take the contour of the sandy bottom thanks
      to its flat body, predators looking on from the side or top don't
      notice it. Until it moves, that is. The minute it changes places, it
      becomes easy prey for a sepia, the Sepia officinalis, passing above.

      But the predator-prey relationship is not the only one between
      creatures that live in the sand. Some relationships depend on mutual
      advantages from which both species benefit. The scavenger prawn,
      Stenopus spinosus, for example, when clearing food residues from the
      mouths of predator fish, fills its own stomach while also protecting
      the fish from parasites. The sea cucumber, Holothuria tubulosa,
      meanwhile functions as the sand nests' rubbish collector. Using its
      feelers, it filters through its mouth the organic materials in the
      sand as it passes over. Consuming them as food, it then expels the
      sand it has swallowed together with them. Purified of organic
      substances, the sand becomes a more sterile environment for other
      creatures to live in. This mysterious underwater world can offer us
      unusual lives and stories in an environment that appears as inanimate
      as the desert. All we need do is learn how to look.