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The Life Aquatic with OL Reign’s Phallon Tullis-Joyce

On World Ocean Day, learn about some of Phallon’s favorite critters.

MikeRussellFoto / Sounder at Heart

Today is World Ocean Day, and in the week leading up to it OL Reign goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce has posted a series of Instagram Stories highlighting some of her favorite creatures that live in Earth’s oceans, called “Phun Phacts.” You can revisit the series on her Instagram page (“Ocean Month” highlights), but if you do not have an account, we’ve chronicled each entry here for you, because Phallon Tullis-Joyce is just cool like that.

What she’s done on the field for OL Reign this season is proof that her two years spent at France’s Stade de Reims Féminines, becoming their first-choice goalkeeper en route to promotion and top-flight status in Division 1 Féminine, had her more than ready to hang in the NWSL. Tullis-Joyce is making a name for herself at OL Reign while continuing a rather impressive lineage of goalkeepers for the club going all the way back to the inaugural season in 2013.

Off the field, it’s Tullis-Joyce’s sharing of her knowledge and love for all things in the ocean that is rapidly making her a fan favorite across the NWSL. The marine science and biology double major has expressed that passion across her gameday fits in a way that makes you just want to sit back and go, “That is so cool.”

Washington Spirit v OL Reign Photo by Jane Gershovich/ISI Photos/Getty Images

In case you missed any of her “Phun Phacts,” or just want to revisit them, we’ve collected the posts in a gallery below. We’ve also transcribed the notes Phallon has put for each critter, verbatim. Here we go!

Day One: Peacock Mantis Shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus)
Mantis shrimp are Pride month enthusiast stomatopods living in the Indo-Pacific, not shrimp, they are still a cutie crustacean though.

Peacock mantis shrimp have dactyl clubs that can strike as fast as 50mph, so fast they boil the water around them!

Mantis shrimp also have some of the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom! They can even see in polarized light, which we believe some species use as a secret communication display.


Day Two: Colossal Squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni)
Colossal squid are the largest invertebrates on Earth living deeeeep in the crispy cool waters surrounding Antarctica.

Even though these squid can grow up to 46ft long and weigh over 1,000lbs, they are some of the rarest marine creatures in the sea!

Colossal squid tentacles have strong suckers with hooks on them. Most of our colossal squid knowledge is from deep sea fishery data and the squid hook scars covering sperm whales that hunt them!


Day Three: Leaf Slug (Costasiella kuroshimae)
These lil’ fellas look uncannily like adorable meadow sheep and they’re soooo smol growing anywhere from 5 mm to 1 cm in length!

Leaf slugs are green because they be cronching on algae and incorporate the algae’s chloroplasts into their own cerata where they continue to photosynthesize, a process called kleptoplasty. This allows these tiny marine sheep to survive even when direct food isn’t available.

Caption for the third picture of the leaf slug: This species of sea slug was only recently identified in the waters of Japan in 1993!


Day Four: Sea Cucumber (Holothuroidea)
Sea cucumbers may look like sedentary blobs, however they are echinoderms related to sea stars, sand dollars, and sea urchins. Just like sea stars, sea cucumbers have a water vascular system and tube feet to move around as they please.

In my book, sea cucumbers are the underrated superheroes of the sea. Some species consume overgrown algae, waste particles, and other stuff no one finds tasty and they poop out cleaner sand with added nutrients for all other marine organisms to enjoy.

Sea cucumbers leave the sea floor a better place than they found it.


Day Five: Giant Isopod (Bathynomus)
First discovered in 1879 in the Gulf of Mexico, giant isopods are alien-like crustaceans lurking in depths greater than 500 meters (1,600ft)!

Growing up to 40cm (16 inches), giant isopods are a brilliant example of deep sea gigantism where scientists hypothesize that factors like cold water, less natural predators, and increased oxygen carried in the body of deep sea organisms could allow them to grow to such enormous sizes. Giant isopods are essentially the beefed up cousins of the roly polies you used to mess with in your backyards.

Giant isopods are believed to fill their bellies with ‘marine snow,’ when marine animals pass away and begin to decay, their white and fluffy remains drift to the seabed for an all you can eat deep sea buffet!


Day Six: Frogfish (Antennariidae)
Frogfish are masters of disguise. Using variations in color and skin texture (whether bumpy, spiky, or “hairy”), frogfish are underwater ninjas when it comes to matching their environments.

As relatives of the anglerfish, frogfish have their own little lures to entice prey to their doom. Some frogfish lures resemble shrimp, small fish, worms, or the lure is bioluminescent to trick unsuspecting passerbys. Not bad for a modified dorsal fin.

Frogfish are marine leap frog champions, it is rare to see a frogfish swimming - they usually just hop around the sea floor. Don’t be fooled though, frogfish have one of the fastest striking speeds in the animal kingdom. On top of that, some frogfish can swallow prey up to twice their own size, due to their flexible stomachs. No one is safe when a frogfish is patiently lurking... but that’s what makes them magnificent.


Day Seven: Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi)
Huzzahhh for the final critter before World Ocean Day!

Here we have the Flamboyant Cuttlefish named after its mesmerizing display of rippling blacks, yellows, and pinks using their chromatophores when alarmed! These cuties grow to be around 6-8cm (2/3in) in tropical Indo-Pacific waters.

Cuttlefish have an internal structure called a cuttlebone (sometimes used to feed birds) used to maintain buoyancy. However a flamboyant cuttlefish’s cuttlebone is too small for continued swimming, so they actually walk along the sea floor.

But watch out! Flamboyant cuttlefish pack a punch, they are currently the only known species of cuttlefish that contain a toxin, making them poisonous.

Caption for the third picture of the flamboyant cuttlefish: Thank you all for following along!


Tullis-Joyce also spoke about the Peacock Mantis Shrimp during her appearance of our podcast, “Coffee & Valkyries” last October, mentioning that it’s her favorite ocean creature. So it comes as no surprise she began the series with one of the animal kingdom’s most deadly predators.

Do you have a favorite critter after viewing Phallon’s presentation? Let us know in the comments.

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