Posted by: Karen Fowler
The world's oceans are full of interesting and amazing animals. Not only do oceans cover more than 70% of the earth's surface, but they are home to all sorts of different marine plants and creatures. The ocean hosts everything from large mammals like whales and walruses to thousands of kinds of fish and microscopic creatures. These animals all make their home in different parts of the ocean and have characteristics perfectly suited for their habitats. Read on to learn about some of the fascinating creatures in our oceans!
Whales
Whales are gigantic mammals that are related to dolphins and porpoises. These large and mysterious animals breathe air through blowholes and move gracefully through the ocean using their flippers and tail. Whales are generally divided into two categories: toothed whales and baleen whales. There are many different kinds of whales within these categories, including humpback whales, blue whales, sperm whales, and more. Whales are very social and move in groups called pods. They even communicate with other members of their group through whale songs, clicks, and whistles. Unfortunately, many whale species are currently endangered and require conservation and protection.
Dolphins
Like whales, dolphins are ocean mammals that travel in pods. They also breathe using blowholes and travel quickly using their fins and tail. These warm-blooded animals are very intelligent and sociable. They communicate through a variety of noises and often jump and play at the surface of the water. There are many different types of dolphins that live in oceans around the world, but most people are familiar with the popular bottlenose dolphin. Dolphins and humans have a long relationship, including entertainment and scientific study. There are also efforts to protect dolphin species that face becoming endangered in the future.
Sharks
While sharks are the same size as many ocean mammals, they are actually a type of fish. There are hundreds of types of sharks, but they all share certain characteristics. All sharks have a skeleton made of cartilage, breathe using their gill slits, and have many sets of teeth and pectoral fins. Large sharks like the great white shark and hammerhead shark are well-known ocean predators, while other smaller sharks are more similar to typical fish. Like sea mammals, certain large sharks face population threats and need protection.
Octopus
The octopus is an incredibly interesting creature with eight suction-cupped arms and no skeleton. These mollusks move through the ocean by swimming through the water and crawling along the sea floor and reef surfaces. They are also highly adaptable and intelligent. Octopuses live in many parts of the ocean and have a large number of defense mechanisms, like spraying ink, camouflage technique, quick reflexes, and sometimes even poison. Octopuses come in many different sizes, ranging from just a few inches to 14 feet long.
Walruses
While sea mammals like dolphins and whales spend most of their time in the ocean, walruses often gather in large groups on land. Walruses actually spend about a third of their time on ice platforms and land. This marine mammal lives only in arctic areas and is related to seals and sea lions. In addition to its furry coat and flippers, walruses have recognizable tusks and coloring.
Sea Lions
People often confuse sea lions with seals, but sea lions have their own unique characteristics. Sea lions are marine mammals that can be recognized by their flippers, ear flaps, and short-haired coat. There are several types of sea lions, and you can often see them gathered on beaches or at zoos and aquariums. Sea lions are known for their playful personalities, distinctive bark, and four-flippered walk.
Stingrays
Like sharks, stingrays are fish with cartilage skeletons. While they are a type of fish, their stingers set them apart. The stingray's tail has a barbed stinger that can release venom. Stingrays are usually found in tropical waters and are generally docile. They rely on their flat bodies to camouflage themselves in their surroundings by hiding under sand. There are, however, larger stingrays that are very aggressive and dangerous.
Jellyfish
Jellyfish are just one type of "jelly" invertebrate that populates oceans. Jellyfish having stinging tentacles that they use to fight off predators or capture prey. They come in many different sizes, colors, and stinging abilities. Despite the jelly-like appearance of their bodies, they actually do have organs and nerves. Jellyfish are generally in every ocean and at every level of the ocean. Sometimes, the current will gather large groups of jellyfish into what is known as a bloom of jellyfish.
Crabs
Crabs are a type of crustacean that can be found in oceans throughout the world. Crabs have thick exoskeletons and a pair of claws in addition to legs. Ocean crabs come in a large range of sizes and shell types. While a few crabs can swim, most crabs make their way through the ocean by walking along surfaces. While there are many types of crabs, sea creatures like the hermit crab and horseshoe crab aren't actually crabs. While similar, they don't fit the characteristics of true crabs.
Other Sea Creatures
There is an incredible amount of diversity in the ocean. In addition to animals like whales and walruses, there are other marine animals like otters and sea turtles. The ocean also has countless fish and other small ocean creatures, like starfish, mollusks, and more. There are also fascinating glowing creatures and strange deep-sea creatures you can learn about. Not only are there a huge number of recorded sea animals, but scientists are still researching uncharted ocean depths and finding new and exciting sea creatures!