Garden Eels live in colonies of up to 700 individuals and burrow in the sand of the ocean floor, using mucus from their bodies to prevent the sand around them from collapsing. These eels tend to stay in their individual burrows, rarely leaving to catch their prey, zooplankton, that floats by them.
Starfish can live for up to 35 years in the wild. They vary in size from one centimeter to 65 centimeters depending on the species. There are 1,600 species of starfish throughout oceans around the world and different species live in habitats including tidal pools, rocky shores, sea grass, kelp beds, and coral reefs.
These jellyfish have 8 arms that surround their mouths and help them find food. Their diet consists of zooplankton, algae, shrimp, and invertebrate eggs. Although this species of jellyfish is the most venomous, they are not harmful to humans.
Whale sharks are the world’s largest fish, reaching up to 40 feet and weighing an average of 20,000 pounds. These gentle giants can neither bite nor chew and are filter feeders. Their mouths contain hundreds of rows of tiny teeth and can open up to 4 feet wide.
Both Stingrays and Manta Rays have flat body shapes and wide pectoral fins. Unlike Stingrays, Manta Rays do not have a barb, or stinger, on their tails. Additionally, Stingrays live on the floors of the ocean while Manta Rays inhabit the open ocean. The mouths of Manta Rays are on the front edge of their bodies while mouths of Stingrays are on the undersides of their bodies.
Butterfly fish can reach up to 8 inches in length, but typically range from around 3 to 6 inches. These fish got their name because of their coloring. They can be black, orange, yellow, silver, red, and white and have different patterns on their bodies. Many species of Butterfly fish have black stripes and spots that serve to confuse and distract their predators. Butterfly fish have elongated noses that help them reach in cracks and crevices of rocks to eat.
They have three hearts, two of which help move their blood beyond their gills. Their third heart’s function is to circulate blood to their organs. The third heart does not beat while an octopus swims, which is part of why swimming exhausts them so much and they prefer to crawl. Octopuses also have blue, copper-based blood, unlike a human’s iron-based blood. This difference in blood type helps octopuses survive in colder waters that have lower amounts of oxygen.
The Bluestripe snapper lives in tropical waters around the world. They live in coral reefs, often near caves, and in shallow lagoons. In the 1950s, the Bluestripe snapper was introduced to the waters of Hawaii as a potential food source, but their low economic value prevented them from being a continued food source.
Dolphins are incredibly intelligent animals. They have been seen using tools, in the form of sponges, to protect their snouts while looking for food. They are also able to identify each other based on their signature whistle sounds. Just as each dolphin has a signature sound, they also each have unique dorsal fins which can be helpful in identifying them.
Manatees are more closely related to the elephant than they are to other marine creatures. The cow-like creatures are thought to have inspired mermaid legends. Manatees typically come up for air every 5 minutes. However, when it is resting, the aquatic mammal can hold its breath for up to 20 minutes. Manatees swim at an average of 5 miles an hour, which is why algae and barnacles can often be found on the backs of manatees. Manatees don’t have the neck vertebra that most other mammals have, meaning that they must turn their entire bodies if they want to look around.
Unlike many species of reef fishes that broadcast their eggs into the water above the reef, damselfishes stick their eggs to the reef surface and guard them until they hatch. Males try to keep the highest quality gardens in order to have a greater chance at success in courting a female. Together, they aggressively defend the eggs from wrasses and other foraging predators that would love an easy meal of yolky fish eggs.
The actual documentation of the age of any species of sea turtle is difficult. What we do know is that sea turtles live a long time based on their species. Of the seven species of sea turtles on the globe, the hawksbill has the shortest lifespan at 30 to 50 years, and the green turtle has the longest at 80 years or more. The largest and smallest sea turtles–the leatherback and the kemp's ridley, respectively–both have an average lifespan of 45 to 50 years. The oldest sea turtle documented survived to be 150 years young! Most marine turtles take decades to mature—between 20 and 30 years—and remain actively reproductive for another 10 years.
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