Coldest, oldest, fastest: 10 extreme sea creatures

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Video Top 10 animals that live underwater

Marine biologist Stephen Palumbi picks 10 of his favourite underwater creatures. From the oldest dwelling animal to the quickest meals within the sea, they’re all fairly excessive.

Marine biologist Stephen Palumbi (his new TEDxStanford Speak is The Excessive Lifetime of the Sea) is aware of rather a lot about what goes on beneath the world’s waves. Palumbi is the director of Stanford College’s Hopkins Marine Station, the place he’s mapping the genome of sea corals. As a scientist, professor and researcher, he has additionally proven the worth of DNA identification in whale conservation and in seafood markets (see his TED Speak: The Hidden Toxins within the Fish We Eat) and traced the variation in sea urchin sperm form. (How about that for dinner dialog?) His latest guide The Excessive Lifetime of the Sea — written together with his son, novelist Anthony Palumbi — shines a lightweight on the wild world of sea life. Lately we requested Palumbi to share a few of his favourite sea creatures — from the obscure to the fascinating to the simply plain unusual. He gracefully obliged. Under, his prime 10 picks:

Sailfish leaping, just thrown the hook, the one that got away. Photo: iStock iStock_000006289122_Large

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1. The sailfish

Sailfish are the quickest eaters within the sea. They’ll transfer at 40 miles per hour — powering via colleges of fish, beautiful them with blows from their payments, and gulping them down on the fly. Their eyes and brains need to work so quick at these speeds that they should be heated up, utilizing specialised heat-generating muscle mass that line the eyes and mind. Photograph: iStock.

After feeding, a bowhead whale comes to the surface to rest. Lancaster Sound, Northwest Territories, Canada. Photo: Paul Nicklen/Getty Images

2. The bowhead whale

The bowhead whale is the oldest dwelling mammal. This was confirmed by the invention of century-old brass harpoon ideas embedded in scars on the backs of whales hunted within the Nineties. These harpoons haven’t been thrown at whales for over a century. Thus, the exact same animals hunted within the Nineties additionally survived human assaults 100 years in the past. Photograph: Paul Nicklen/Getty Photos.

Coral Leiopathes (deep water black coral) Photo: Courtesy of NOAA Hawaiian Undersea Research Lab

3. The coral leiopathes (deep water black coral)

The oldest recognized animal is a coral dwelling on the slopes of Hawaii — deep within the sea, 1000’s of ft beneath the floor, the place circumstances are darkish and chilly and sluggish. These black corals develop a hair’s width a 12 months. The oldest is now recognized to have lived longer than another animal on Earth — 4,270 years. Earlier than a number of the Egyptian pyramids have been constructed, this coral was alive. Photograph courtesy of NOAA Hawaiian Undersea Analysis Lab.

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Previous University of Delaware research confirmed that the Pompeii worm is the most heat-tolerant animal on Earth, able to survive an environment as hot as 176°F. Covering this deep-sea worm's back is a fleece of bacteria. These microbes may possess heat-stable enzymes useful in a variety of applications, such as pharmaceutical production, food processing, paper and textile manufacture, and others. Photo: University of Delaware College of Marine Studies

4. The Pompeii worm

The animal with the biggest temperature tolerance is the Pompeii worm, which lives on the undersea hot-water vents, the place sizzling water at immense strain billows out from underneath the earth’s crust. The worm’s tail sits on the temperature of sizzling tea, however its tentacled head — an inch away — dips into the ice-cold water of the deep sea. To learn the way this wonderful creature constructs its cells and proteins throughout such a temperature vary, the genome of the Pompeii worm is being decoded. Photograph courtesy of College of Delaware Faculty of Marine Research.

A Hump Back Whale breaching off the coast of Maine. Photo: iStock. iStock_000009634005_Large

5. The humpback whale

Some of the exuberant animal shows within the ocean is the breaching of humpback whales. The massive fins on humpback whales have been as soon as thought to generate large drag forces on the whales as a result of the fins are so lengthy and so bumpy. However detailed testing has proven the bumps really scale back the drag forces generated by the fins. Related designs on fan blades have resulted in a brand new era of low-drag, high-efficiency merchandise. Photograph: iStock.

beluga whale, Photo: Jenny Spadafora (jspad)/Flickr.

6. The beluga whale

Beluga whales have a number of the greatest sonar within the sea. Their swollen head homes the ‘melon’, a fat-filled area that focuses incoming sound waves. Belugas want this additional acuity. They dwell amongst drifting ice in slim channels, and they should use sonar to see ice holes that they will breathe via. Photograph: Jenny Spadafora (jspad)/Flickr.


5. The narwhal

Narwhals gave a legendary enhance to the Center Ages — as unicorn horns. The tusks of narwhals have been collected within the polar reaches of the North Atlantic and bought round Europe to nobles and collectors. Consuming from a “unicorn horn” was mentioned to forestall poisoning. Every tusk is a tooth, overgrown from the aspect of the mouth, however extending 10 to 14 ft in size. Tusks haven’t any recognized operate — however there are two clues for future marine biologists: Most males have tusks, however few females do. And a few narwhals have two. Photograph: Glenn Williams/Nationwide Institute of Requirements and Expertise.

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8. The icefish

The Antarctic icefish dwell in water colder than freezing — 2 levels beneath zero Centigrade. Ocean water doesn’t freeze at this temperature as a result of it’s filled with salt. The blood of the icefish is much less salty than seawater; as an alternative, it retains itself from freezing by utilizing ice proteins, generally referred to as antifreeze proteins, that connect to ice crystals forming within the blood stream. As soon as the ice crystals are coated with antifreeze protein, they will’t stick collectively, in order that they don’t develop. The icefish of the Antarctic have used this adaptation to turn into very profitable — making up 95% of the fish biomass round Antarctica. Photograph: Uwe Kils/Wikimedia Commons.

Anemone purple anemonefish CC BY-SA 3.0 Photo: Nick Hobgood/Wikipedia. Purple anemone (Heteractis magnifica) and resident anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) (clownfish) in East Timor.

9. Clownfish

Clownfish households have been made well-known in ‘Discovering Nemo,’ however actual ones have extra peculiar lives than the film lets on. In a sea anemone the place the clownfish dwell, the largest fish is at all times a feminine, laying all of the eggs. The following largest fish is a practical male, fertilizing them. And plenty of smaller clownfish are immature males. When the feminine dies or is eaten by a predator, the largest male switches intercourse to turn into feminine. On the similar time the largest immature male grows right into a practical male that may fertilize the eggs. This conveyor belt system of parenting assures a continuing provide of child Nemos. Photograph: Nick Hobgood/Wikipedia.

Angler FishPhoto: Edith Widder

10. The anglerfish

Anglerfish inhabit the deep sea, and for a century they baffled marine biologists. At first solely feminine anglerfish have been recognized; the place the males have been and what they seemed like was an entire thriller. Then a parasitologist started finding out the worm-like parasites usually connected to anglerfish females. What he discovered, as an alternative of parasites, have been anglerfish males — every present process a radical transformation. When a male anglerfish is tiny, he finds and attaches to a feminine. First his jaws dissolve and his bloodstream fuses with the feminine’s. Then his mind disappears and his guts shrink. Ultimately he’s little greater than a testis, fertilizing the eggs of 1 feminine, for the remainder of his life. Photograph courtesy of Edith Widder.

TED audio system frequently cowl excessive sea creatures and what’s taking place underwater. Catch simply a few of their talks right here:

Featured picture courtesy of Edith Widder.

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