Water animals are absolutely fascinating – they’re so different to life on land! Their environment is so different to ours, and so varied, that marine life has evolved in a much different way to life on land.
From creatures that can disguise themselves as rocks, to fish that live in total darkness, the ocean is an almost alien territory, home to the most strange and interesting creatures.
Rivers and lakes have more than their fair share of interesting animals too! Even mammals can live mostly on water – otters, for example.
With the majority of our planet’s surface area being water, it’s no surprise that aquatic life has evolved in such strange and diverse ways. Let’s have a look at some of the interesting animals that live in water!
Renowned as fearsome predators, sharks have long fascinated humans. They mostly live in oceans, and come in a huge variety of different shapes and sizes. For example the hammerhead shark – one of the most famous species of shark, known for its oddly shaped head!
There are actually over 500 species of shark, and they exist in oceanic waters all over the world. They’ve been on our planet for a very long time – over 400 million years, in fact!
That means that sharks existed even before the dinosaurs did. Shark fossils of this age have been found – of course, shark fossils aren’t quite the same as some other fossils!
Sharks don’t have bones – their skeletons are instead made of cartilage, so only the denser parts of their skeletons tend to fossilize. Most shark fossils are teeth!
Whales are famous for being huge creatures – in fact, the largest animal on Earth is a whale! The Antarctic blue whale can reach up to 110 feet in length, and can weigh as much as 200 tons! Whales have long been thought of as strange, mysterious creatures, due to the solemn tones of their calls.
The size that some whales can reach has no doubt played a part in developing this aura of mystery!
Clearly, there’s more to them than sheer size. Whales are also intelligent creatures. Some of them have been known to hunt in groups, blowing air bubbles to confuse and encircle their prey – making them easy food for the group.
Others feed on much smaller creatures, such as krill and plankton. You’d think that larger species of whale would eat bigger stuff, right? Well, not necessarily – the blue whale pretty much only eats krill, a creature usually no more than an inch long!
They do however, eat nearly 6 tons of krill every single day!
Dolphins are possibly one of the most intelligent sea creatures that we know of. We know, for instance, that a bottlenose dolphin is able to recognize itself in a mirror!
Dolphins have even been recorded as having used tools – using marine sponges to protect their beaks from being damaged by rocks while they hunt fish! This level of intelligence is rare in the animal kingdom, humans and other apes being almost alone in this respect.
They are full of personality, and are known for being extremely vocal – and able to make an extremely wide variety of sounds! Dolphins are most commonly found in the ocean, but dolphins have also been found in the Amazon river. These freshwater dolphins aren’t found anywhere else!
When it comes to strange looking creatures, the octopus is one of the most shining examples of strangeness. Not only are octopuses strange because of their tentacles, but they are also strange because they don’t always look like octopuses!
They are masters of camouflage, able to change the color and texture at will to blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. In an instant, they can make themselves look like a rock, or even the floor itself.
It’s ironic that chameleons are more known for their ability to do this than octopuses are – but perhaps that’s testament to just how good octopuses are at camouflage!
They are also extremely smart and intelligent creatures, able to solve difficult tasks such as mazes – and opening jars! Also, did you know that octopuses have beaks? Birds aren’t the only ones!
The cute and furry otter is an extremely strong swimmer, and is an amazing hunter! They’ve even been documented as using tools, smashing mollusks open with rocks to open them up.
Otters are found all over the world, except for Australia. Oh, and Antarctica – but of course, very little lives there! Otters mostly live in rivers and lakes, but there are some species that actually live in the Pacific Ocean!
Octopuses might look weird, but they’ve got nothing on the anglerfish. It is without a doubt one of the ugliest and most fearsome looking creatures on the planet. It looks practically demonic – like something from a horror film. It lives in some of the darkest waters on earth, where the water is so deep that sunlight can’t make it through.
There is, however, one source of light in the blackness – a glowing, bioluminescent lure dangling in front of the anglerfish’s mouth. And what a mouth it is – one of the most terrifying sights in the open ocean.
The mouth is colossal for the size of the body, and is packed full of horrifying nail-like teeth. Some anglerfish can be up to a meter long!
Eels look like snakes, but they’re actually a type of fish! Types of eels are found in both salt and freshwater, and can be found across the globe. Eels are actually used as food, and have been for centuries in many countries.
There are over 700 types of eel, some of them reaching over a meter in length. Eels are actually able to survive outside of water for some time – they sometimes will crawl through grass to reach a source of water. They are carnivores, eating other fish and fish eggs, as well as dead animals.
Eels are unfortunately critically endangered in some countries . This is even more tragic when you consider how long some eels can live. They can have a lifespan of between 15 and 70 years!