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Marine Animal ABCs

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Marine Animal ABCs - Page Text Content

S: ABC Book of Marine Animals

FC: Marine Animals | Author: Blake Mitchell | Illustrator: Katharine Argall

1: My name is Blake Mitchell. I was born on New Year's Day in 1992. I grew up in Alexandria, Alabama, and graduated from The Donoho School in Anniston, Alabama. I am a junior at Jacksonville State University, majoring in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. | Katharine Elizabeth Argall was born in Florida, but has spent much of her childhood in Georgia. This home schooled seventeen year old is a lover of all things crustacean with a passion for marine animals, especially land hermit crabs. Her goal is to breed land hermit crabs in captivity.

2: is for ANEMONE | The ornately colored sea anemone (uh-NEM-uh-nee) is named after the equally flashy terrestrial anemone flower. A close relative of coral and jellyfish, anemones are stinging polyps that spend most of their time attached to rocks on the sea bottom or on coral reefs waiting for fish to pass close enough to get ensnared in their venom-filled tentacles. | Some species of sea anemone can live 50 years or more.

3: is for BARNACLE | The barnacle (BAHR-nuh-kuhl)is a hardy animal that is found in or very close to sea water. Although it is frequently confused for a mollusk because of its hard outer shell, it is actually a crustacean, closely related to crabs and lobsters. | Barnacles can come in many different colors, such as black, white, yellow, and cream-colored.

4: is for CUTTLEFISH | Cuttlefish belong to the same family as squids or octopus. They are described as chameleon-like, because they can change colors or camouflage to blend into their environment. They do this to hide from other sea creatures, called predators, which may want to eat them. | They are very fast swimmers. When being chased, they shoot out ink from their ink sac. It clouds the water, so the cuttlefish can keep from getting caught and eaten.

5: is for DIATOM | Diatoms are unique forms of algae that grow a silica shell that is preserved in underwater sediments after they die. | They provide a significant amount of the world's oxygen supply (some say 35 percent).

6: is for ESTUARINE CROCODILE | Earth's largest living crocodile—and, some say, the animal most likely to eat a human—is the saltwater or estuarine crocodile. Average-size males reach 17 feet (5 meters) and 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms), but specimens 23 feet (7 meters) long and weighing 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms) are not uncommon. | In April 2007, an inadequately sedated saltwater crocodile at a Taiwanese zoo bit a veterinarian's forearm off. After seven hours of surgery, the appendage was successfully reattached.

7: is for FIDDLER CRAB | Fiddler crabs are characterized by a rectangular shell and a narrow abdomen, which is flexed under the body. They are called fiddler crabs because the males have one enormous claw, held in front of the body like a fiddle. A fiddler crab is a small crab that walks sideways. The male has one giant claw but the female doesn't. | If they lose legs or claws in their growth cycle a new one will grow when they molt. If the large fiddle claw is lost, males will develop one on the opposite side after their next molt.

8: is for GOBY | Round gobies are small fish with large, frog-like heads, raised eyes, soft bodies, and spineless dorsal fins. Males are generally larger than females. | There is almost no larval stage in the development of round gobies. Eggs take up to 18 days to hatch.

9: is for HUMPBACK WHALE | The humpback whale gets its name from fact that the dorsal fin sits on a large “hump” on the back, which is noticeable when the whale arches its back and dives. | The scientific name, Megaptera novaeangliae, means “big wing of New England.”

10: is for ISOPOD | The many different species of isopods around the world share certain characteristics. Isopods are crustaceans, distant kin of shrimps, crabs, and crayfish. Like all crustaceans, isopods have a segmented outer shell (seven overlapping plates) that provides a measure of protection from the environment and predators. Like their aquatic relatives, isopods get the oxygen they need to survive through gill-like structures located at the bases of their legs, rather than through lungs like most terrestrial organisms. That is why isopods must keep moist at all times—if they dry, they die. | Iso is Greek for "similar or equal." Pod means "foot." Put them together and you have the isopod, an organism that has an equal number of feet or legs on both sides with all legs similar to one another.

11: is for JELLYFISH | Jellyfish have drifted along on ocean currents for millions of years, even before dinosaurs lived on the Earth. They are abundant in cold and warm ocean water, in deep water, and along coastlines. Jellyfish have tiny stinging cells in their tentacles to stun or paralyze their prey before they eat them. | Some jellyfish are clear and can look like a plastic bag in the water. Others are in vibrant colors such as pink, yellow, blue, and purple, and often are luminescent.

12: is for KRILL | The lowly krill averages only about two inches (five centimeters) in length, but it represents a giant-sized link in the global food chain. These small, shrimp-like crustaceans are essentially the fuel that runs the engine of the Earth's marine ecosystems. | Scientists estimate that the total weight of all the Antarctic krill is more than the total weight of all humans on Earth.

13: is for LIMPET | The limpet is a relative of a snail. It has a one-piece shell that is like a pointy hat. A limpet has one big foot and a strong suction cup. Limpets eat only at night because then they are much safer moving around. Limpets eat algae off rocks using their radula. Limpets always go back to the same place after eating. Sometimes they use the same spot for their whole life. Limpets fit back into their place in the rock perfectly. Limpets can find their way back to their rock home. They leave a trail of mucus, (just like snails) behind them, which chemically "stores" their direction of travel. They use sensitive chemoreceptors to find their way back "reading" the trail. Limpets don't even have any eyes. | Young limpets live at lower levels of the tidepools. Older limpets live at higher levels of the tidepool.

14: is for MARINE IGUANA | The Marine Iguana is the only lizard in the world that goes into the ocean. It eats seaweed that grows near the shores of the Galapagos Islands where they live. It survives the cold temperatures by slowing down its heart rate when it dives. This helps prevent it losing too much heat through its blood when it is in the water. It is able to stay under water for up to twenty minutes at a time.

15: is for NUDIBRANCH | The bottom-dwelling, jelly-bodied nudibranch (NEW-dih-bronk) might seem an unlikely canvas for Mother Nature to express her wildest indulgences of color and form. But these shell-less mollusks, part of the sea slug family, bear some of the most fascinating shapes, sumptuous hues, and intricate patterns of any animal on Earth. | Some nudibranchs are solar-powered, storing algae in their outer tissues and living off the sugars produced by the algae’s photosynthesis.

16: is for OCTOPUS | If you are looking at a picture of the oceans, you definitely would not miss the octopus. This animal with eight arms, is one of the most intelligent creatures of the salty waters of the seas and oceans. They have a bulbous head with which they propel themselves as they swim, with their arms trailing behind like long tentacles. These arms are located around their mouth and have suckers on the underside. They use these arms and suckers to catch and choke their prey. | An interesting fact is that these sea creatures have three hearts. Two hearts pump blood through the gills whereas the third one pumps blood through rest of the body. The color of its blood is blue.

17: is for PUFFER FISH | Pufferfish are able to inflate into a ball shape to evade predators. Also known as blowfish, these clumsy swimmers fill their elastic stomachs with huge amounts of water (and sometimes air) and can blow themselves up to several times their normal size. Some species also have spines on their skin to ward off predators. | In Japan, they are called fugu and are a very expensive, delicious treat. Because the fish are so poisonous, they are prepared only by trained, licensed fugu chefs. One false cut by the chef can mean death for the consumer.

18: is for QUEEN PARROT FISH | Every night, certain species of parrot fish envelope themselves in a transparent cocoon made of mucous secreted from an organ on their head. Scientists think the cocoon masks their scent, making them harder for nocturnal predators, like moray eels, to find. | Some male parrot fish maintain harems of females. If the dominant male dies, one of the females will change gender and color and become the dominant male.

19: is for ROTIFER | Wheel animals or rotifers are common in rivers, lakes, puddles, and gutters. They are one of the smallest living animals. Rotifers feed on protozoans and other tiny lifeforms that they catch. They do this by beating a crown of cilia to draw water into their mouths. During dry periods, these animals become dormant. Once they are dormant, they can stay inactive for many years.

20: is for STINGRAY | Stingrays, with their wide, flat bodies, may not look like fish, but they are. They are related to sharks, and, like their shark cousins, they do not have bones. Instead, their bodies are supported by cartilage—the same material that you feel inside the tip of your nose. | While a stingray's mouth is on the underside of its body, along with its nostrils and gill slits, its eyes are on the top. Scientists don't think they use their eyes for hunting very much though. Instead, they use special sensors called ampullae of Lorenzini, which can detect the tiny electrical charges emitted by their prey.

21: is for TIGER SHARK | Tiger sharks are named for the dark, vertical stripes found mainly on juveniles. As these sharks mature, the lines begin to fade and almost disappear. | These large, blunt-nosed predators have a duly earned reputation as man-eaters. They are second only to great whites in attacking people. But because they have a near completely undiscerning palate, they are not likely to swim away after biting a human, as great whites frequently do. | The tiger shark's reputation as an indiscriminate eater that will swallow anything it finds, including garbage, has earned it the nickname "wastebasket of the sea."

22: is for URCHIN | Sea urchins are among the strangest animals on the planet. Inhabiting everywhere from the deep waters to shallow tide pools, these animals are known for their porcupine-like spines. They have some very interesting characteristics that make them notable in the animal kingdom. | Sea urchins have a toothed mouth in the center of the underside of their test, or main body. To eat, they crawl over a food item and tear away at it using this mouth. Urchins eat practically anything, from algae stuck to rocks, to seaweed, and even the carcasses of fish or other marine organisms.

23: is for VAQUITA | The Vaquita is highly endangered. A newborn is only about 2 ft. (60cm) long. When fully grown, a vaquita usually does not exceed 5 ft. (1.5m). They live close to the shore in the Gulf of California. They are gray with stumpy bodies and feed mainly on fish. There are only a few hundred vaquitas in the world. Without careful protection they will become extinct. | The Mexican government created the Upper Gulf of California Biosphere Reserve in 1993 in part to protect vaquita habitat.

24: is for WOBBEGONG | Occurring on continental shelves, from the intertidal zone down to 360 feet (110 m), the spotted wobbegong is commonly found on or around reefs, under piers, and on sandy bottoms. There have been many sightings of this shark in water barely deep enough to cover its entire body. It is considered sluggish and inactive and is often found resting on the ocean floor. | The spotted wobbegong is generally pale yellow or greenish brown with large, dark saddles down the center of its back and many small, white O-shaped markings over its entire back. The pattern serves as camouflage.

25: is for XIPHIAS | A fast-swimming predator, the swordfish (Xiphias gladius) gets its name from its extremely long, flat, sword-like bill, which is used to impale or slash its prey. | Swordfish reach a maximum size of 177 in. (455 cm) total length and a maximum weight of 1,400 lbs. (650 kg), although the individuals commercially taken are usually 47 to 75 in. (120-190 cm) long in the Pacific. Females are larger than males of the same age, and nearly all specimens over 300 lbs. (140 kg) are female.

26: is for YELLOWHEAD JAWFISH | The Yellowhead Jawfish is a wonderful looking fish with a bright yellow head and a white or light blue body. The Yellowhead Jawfish likes to burrow in the substrate and prefer a deeper sand bed with crushed coral and various grades of sand, at least 3 to 5 inches. They have the incredible ability to quickly dart back into their burrow tail first when spooked. You usually won't see them swimming around alot. They like to hang vertically above the burrow or in the burrow with only their yellow heads poking out. It's really neat to see a colony of them in a tank hanging vertically above their holes watching you.

27: is for ZEBRA MORAY | The zebra moray eel has a tube-like, elongated deep brown body with light yellow to white “zebra” stripes. The eel’s large mouth has backward curving, sharp teeth. Like a snake, the zebra moray eel slithers around coral reefs with its long ribbon-like body. Hugging the top and bottom of the body, short wavy fins help propel this moray. Unlike most other fish, moray eels don’t have scales, so to protect themselves against scrapes and parasites, they ooze a slimy coating of mucus over their thick muscular bodies. | At rest, a moray breathes through its mouth, flashing a set of numerous teeth. This may make them look mean, but they’re actually breathing—flushing water over their gills. They attack only when hungry or provoked.

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  • Title: Marine Animal ABCs
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