Featured Image Credit:
By K. Snyder
On the first day of Christmas, the ocean showed to me:
12 Dugongs Diving
These adorable grazers inhabit the waters of the Indo-West Pacific. They feed on seagrass in bays and mangrove channels, swimming slowly. They are related to the manatee (or sea cow) that inhabits the waters around Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
11 (Sand)pipers Piping
Sandpipers are abundant near the shoreline, where they probe the wet sand for marine arthropods, and small crustaceans to devour. Their annual migration takes them along the eastern seaboard from southern Canada to South America.
10 Lionfish Lunging
Lionfish are quite spiky! These venomous fish can deliver painful stings via the needle-like dorsal fins dotting their bodies. When hunting, they rely on camouflage and quick reflexes to capture their prey.
9 Nudibranchs Gnawing
New species of nudibranch are being discovered every day. Currently, there are over 3000 identified species of these grazing carnivores known. They are found in shallow, tropical waters and range in length from 0.25 to 12 inches!
8 Belugas Breaching
Instantly recognizable, these white whales have a versatile set of vocalizations and incredible ability to echolocate due to their rounded heads. Belugas live in cold Arctic waters and feed on fish, crustaceans and worms.
7 Sailfins Soaring
A colorful coral reef inhabitant, the sailfin tang (pictured above) is a common aquarium fish because of its distinct body patterns. The disc-like shape of its body allows it to navigate quickly among small crevasses and avoid predators.
6 Sea Sponges Squirting
Sea sponges are actually the world’s simplest multi-cellular organism. The multitude of pores on a sponge allow it to pump massive amounts of water through its body every day to get all the nutrients necessary for sustained growth.
5 Sand Dollars
The iconic white round shells encountered on beaches are actually just the cast-off old shells of these widespread invertebrates. Live sand dollars are a rich purple and covered in tiny hairs and spines that help them to move, capture and chew plankton.
4 Calling Orcas
These whales hardly need an introduction! Orcas are the largest dolphins in the world and eat a wide variety of fish, squid, seal, and seabirds.
Fireworms may look odd but they are not to be messed with. These segmented worms are covered in hollow bristles that easily penetrate flesh and break off, releasing venom. When they are threatened, fireworms flare out these bristles. Don’t pick one up!
Tunicates are invertebrates that inflate like a sac and strain food particles from the surrounding water. These filter feeders pull oxygen, plankton and suspended organic materials from the water and pump them through their bodies for nourishment. When they land on a new surface as a gamete, tunicates can reproduce both sexually and asexually to create a large colony of peers.
An Otter With An Oyster
Someone’s taking a post-Christmas nap! Otters inhabit the North Pacific Ocean and feed on urchins, clams, crabs and a wide variety of other undersea species. They are vital to ensuring the health and continued growth of kelp forests.
Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas from Awesome Ocean!