Marine biology is the study of life in the oceans and other saltwater environments such as estuaries and wetlands. All plant and animal life forms are included from the microscopic picoplankton all the way to the majestic blue whale, the largest creature in the sea—and for that matter in the world….
It wasn’t until the writings of Aristotle from 384-322 BC that specific references to marine life were recorded. Aristotle identified a variety of species including crustaceans, echinoderms, mollusks, and fish…
Sponges, Cnidarians, Worms, Lophophorates, Mollusks, Arthropods, Echinoderms, and Hemichordates are all animals that lack backbones and are known as invertebrates. Over 98% of species are invertebrates. Some invertebrate phyla have only one species, while others, like Arthropoda, include more than 83% of all described animal species with over a million species!
Marine vertebrates, classified under the Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata and Subphylum Vertebrata, are among the most structurally complex organisms. The seven main superclasses and classes in Vertebrata are: Agnatha, Amphibia, Aves, Chondrichthyes (“Condr-ICK-thees”), Mammalia, Osteichthyes (“Ostee-ICK-thees”), and Reptilia.
Basking sharks, blue and bull sharks, the goblin sharks, great whites, hammerheads, lemon sharks, mantas and stingrays, nurse sharks, oceanic whitetips, tiger sharks, salmon sharks, threshers, whale sharks, wobbegongs, etc.
For generations, whales and other marine mammals have intrigued humans. 2,400 years ago, Aristotle recognized that whales are mammals, not fish, because they nurse their young and breathe air like other mammals. There are numerous myths and legends surrounding marine mammals. The Greeks believed that killing a dolphin was as bad as murdering a human.
Find out about 16 species of rare beaked whales, 28 species of dolphins, 6 species of porpoises, 6 species of baleen whales, the dwarf and pygmy sperm whales, 4 right whales, the gray whale, 6 river dolphins, the narwhal, beluga, and sperm whales.
They’re the acrobats and court jesters of the sea, troops of aerial spinners and wave dancers. Their long sleek bodies jet high into the air as they perform a grand ballet with tails propelling them as they skim each wave against the continuous horizon. Mesmerizing to watch, dolphins have been gliding, flipping and dancing into our hearts for centuries.
Every form of interaction between different species is seen in the sea. Some creatures depend on each other for food, protection or a just a safe place to lay eggs. A parasite isn’t always bad… see examples of cooperation that we humans could learn from…
A new study by Ziegler and Sargony (2021) has demonstrated how non-invasive methods can be used to record and catalogue new species of megafauna. Traditional methods including collecting specimens to handle physically which, aside from killing the specimen, can also damage the structures of the organism - impairing proper scientific understanding. While non-destructive imaging techniques have proven effective in describing novel species of small organisms this is the first time it has be utilised for a deep-sea megafauna, the cirrate octopus - Grimpoteuthis imperator.
In a recent forum by Youngentob et al. (2021) pose this fascinating question, given that endotherms commonly reduce their voluntary food intake in warm temperatures - could reduced food intake be an overlooked driver of climate change casualties?
A recent study in the journal of Marine Biology has tested a different method of investigating social behaviour in octopuses. Traditionally octopuses have been seen as asocial creatures that ignore others of their species (conspecifics) but recent discoveries of aggregations or groups of wild octopuses such as: algae octopuses (Abdopus aculeatus), Graneledone octopuses, Muusoctopus octopuses, Caribbean Reef Octopuses (Octopus briareus), Atlantic pygmy octopuses (Octopus joubini), Octopus laqueus, Common Sydney octopuses (Octopus tetricus) and Vulcanoctopus hydrothermalis.
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