Here are some photos and other information about our favorite animals from the seas.
Photo by: Tracy Colson, Used under Creative Commons License
Manatees are large and lovable, weighing up to 1200 pounds. There are three main species of manatees: the West Indian manatee, Amazonian Manatee and the West African Manatee. They are mainly vegetarians, but do eat a fish from time to time. Every day they eat about 10% of their body weight, which is about 120 pounds of food. Manatees use a wide range of sounds to communicate. They are endangered because of their main threat, humans. Humans destroy their habitat and put litter in the water that the manatees could eat. That is why it is so important to save the manatees!
All seven species of sea turtles are on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List of Endangered Species as either “endangered” or “critically endangered”. These amazing animals are poached for their meat, eggs, shells, and skin. Immune to the jelly fish’s sting, sea turtles eat jelly fish regularly, which help keep tropical beaches safe for humans. They eat sea grass which needs to be constantly cut to maintain good health and promote further growth. The sea grass is a breeding ground for numerous fish, shellfish, and crustaceans. Sea turtles help maintain the ocean ecosystem balance. Sea turtles are sometimes accidentally caught in fishing nets and drown because they can’t get to the surface to get air. There is now a solution; if fishermen use a turtle excluder device (TED,) the turtles can escape.
We can all help to save the sea turtles from extinction by picking up trash at the beach, and by protecting turtle nesting areas. Here is a link to some other things you can do to help:
Lion’s Mane Jellyfish
The Lion’s mane Jellyfish is the largest known jellyfish. Its existence has been confirmed in the waters of the Artic and the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
This jellyfish is enormous! One was found to be 120 feet long, larger than a blue whale, and is considered to be the longest animal in the world. It’s tentacles can grow up to be 98 feet long, and are grouped in clusters of 100. Larger ones can be purple and smaller ones can be orange.
The Lion’s mane Jellyfish usually eats seabirds, large fish, sea turtles, and other jellyfish, and normally leaves humans alone. However, in 2010, 150 people were stung by the remains of a Lion’s mane Jellyfish that broke up into a bunch of pieces.
There are over 1,800 species of starfish in the oceans. They are most commonly found in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Artic oceans.
When most people think of starfish, they think of the typical five armed star-shape, but did you know there are some starfish that can have up to 40 arms? And when they lose an arm or a leg, they can grow it back.
Sometimes, starfish get so hungry; they barf out their stomachs and eat their prey there! Starfish have the amazing ability to put their stomach outside of their mouths, then consume and digest their meal with it still hanging out!
Sea stars don’t have blood! They pump water through what would be their vascular system, except there is no blood, just generated water.
Although we can’t see them, starfish have eyes! It’s just a tiny red dot located at the end of each arm. They can’t see much, but can sense light and dark.
Starfish move very slowly, but you’d think that they’d move faster considering they have 100 feet! That’s right; starfish have over one hundred feet on the bottom of them, and each of those feet grip the ocean floor and move a starfish around slowly. Since starfish move so slowly, predators are obviously lucky when it comes finding them. But starfish have a hard, thick, spiny covering that has calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate can deter a predator.
Seahorses are one of my favorite sea creatures! Read on to find out some amazing information about these cool sea animals.
A Bigbelly Seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis) anchored to netting. Manly Cove, Sydney Harbour, NSW; Photo by: Richard Ling under Creative Commons License.
Seahorses belong to the genus Hippocampus (Ancient Greek hippos meaning horse, and kampos meaning sea monster), and there are close to 50 different species. They can range in size from 1-12 inches, and vary in color, including orange, red, yellows, grey and greens. They also can change color for camouflage purposes. Of interest is that the seahorse can move one eye at a time. Seahorses have no stomach and no teeth. Therefore, food passes quickly through their digestive system, and they have to eat constantly, sometimes consuming up to 5000 brine shrimp per day. They also have a prehensile (adapted for grasping or taking hold) tail that is used to grasp sea grass or other objects, and the tail is not able to curl backwards. Because of their body shape, seahorses are not great swimmers. They swim upright, and use a small fin on their back to propel themselves. This fin can flutter up to 35 times per second, similar to the fluttering of a hummingbird’s wings.
The male seahorse is equipped with a brood pouch on his front side, where the female deposits her eggs. The male then fertilizes the eggs internally. He carries the eggs until they hatch, and then releases the fully formed miniature seahorses into the water. There can be as little as 5, or up to 1500 young, with less than one percent making it to adulthood. Like other fish, seahorses take no responsibility in nurturing their young after birth.
The seahorses are vulnerable to extinction because of ocean pollution, habitat depletion and prevalent harvesting, mainly for use in traditional Asian medicine. Let’s do our part to keep our oceans healthy, and help save these delightful sea creatures.