Octopus - octo means eight. Can you guess how many arms an octopus has? You are right - eight. They have a large brain and their brain is also in their arms. They can actually see, think and do things with each of their eight arms. Imagine if you could draw with one arm, learn to read with another, brush your teeth with a third, do the dishes with a fourth and fifth arm, put your toys away with a sixth arm, tie your shoes with a seventh arm and comb your hair with an eighth arm - all at the same time! And what is more amazing is, if the octopus loses one arm, it will just grow another. The octopus lives in warm and cold water. They come in small and also very large sizes. They live in the deep and in the shallow water. The only hard part of their bodies are their strong beak. It is a cousin to the cuttlefish and squid.
Pufferfish - the pufferfish lives in the warm waters, and this one swam in the shallow
waters. Pufferfish is a close cousin to the balloon fish and porcupine fish. They have four teeth, two on top and two on the bottom of their mouth. The teeth are similar to a beak on a bird, and they can eat algae, shrimp, and other delicious food. If the pufferfish needs to, it can quickly inflate itself with water and blow up like a ball. And when it does, the spike in its skin then stands straight out. It keeps the pufferfish super safe, but the truth is, if a fish ate it, that fish would get sick because the pufferfish has poison inside its body as a backup plan. When it gets round as a ball and shows its spikes, it saves itself and the other hungry fish too. Now that is nice!
Queen Parrotfish -like the parrot on land, the parrotfish is often very colorful. They also have a strong beak like a parrot. The parrotfish graze on algae and also on the hard corals. When the parrotfish graze on the coral, it can be loud. When the parrotfish eat coral, it comes out as sand. I bet you didn’t know that. Parrotfish make much of the white sand on the bottoms of the ocean and sandy beaches. At night they make a cocoon from mucus. The mucus comes out of its mouth, and it goes around the entire parrot fish, like a sleeping bag. Imagine you could blow a bubble with your gum big enough to sleep in! They are snug as a bug in their underwater sleeping bags.
Ribbon Eel - this eel is common and shy. It is rare to see a free-swimming eel, but if you do, it is a beautiful sight. The eel is like a gymnast's ribbon. When the ribbon eel hatches from its egg, it is all black. As it gets older, it gets a yellow band that runs down the length of its back. When it is all grown up it turns bright blue and keep the yellow band. The blue and yellow eels are the boys, or male. Now here is the weird part, all ribbon eels are boys when they hatch. No eel hatch as a girl, or female. So where are all the girls? Well, the eels grow from boy babies into boy teenagers, then to a male grown-up, or adult, and then the eels can change into a grown female. When that happen the ribbon eels all turn yellow and stay that way. There are no girl babies or girl teenagers, which is a bit strange, but they are one of the only creatures that can do that. Now that is amazing!
Shark - sharks have lived in the ocean for a very long time. Sharks for the most part are shy and quiet, and like to be left alone. Some swim by themselves, and some are found in groups, or schools. This is true for the hammerhead sharks. Sharks are strong swimmers, and because their bones are soft they are super fast. The shape of their head is built for speed and helps the sharks glide through the water with ease. Now, most species of sharks have many, many teeth. They grow in rows and rows of teeth. A single shark can have thousands of teeth during their life, like 30,000 teeth in some cases. We only have 24 milk teethes and 32 adult teeth in our lifetime. When a shark breaks a tooth, which happens often, it just grows a new one, so they don’t have to brush, and there are too many to brush anyway. Interestingly enough the largest species of the shark family do not have large teeth. They are the whale shark, basking shark and the megamouth. They don’t need teeth because they eat plankton, which is very small. They filter all the small food through the water, and they are called filter feeders. Some sharks lay their eggs in an egg sack. It is called a mermaid purse. How fancy!
Turtle - like snails, turtles have shells too, but unlike the snails, turtles can’t leave their shell. Their shells are built from the turtle ribs, so they are stuck together, just like your ribs are to your body. The turtles on land have webbed feet, which means they have skin between their toes, and their feet work like a paddle. The sea turtles have two flippers in the front that they use for speed and the two feet in the back are used to steer, like the rudder on a boat. The sea turtles live and feed in the ocean. They are strong swimmers, which is good, because they like to eat in one part of the world, and then they swim to their favorite beaches in another part of the world, where they dig holes in the sand and lay hundreds of eggs. Those long swims are called migration. Just like you, the turtles have lungs, so they come to the surface to get some fresh air, however, they sleep in the water and they can sleep for hours. No wonder they grow big and strong!
Urchin - urchins are known as the porcupines of the sea. They both use their spikes to avoid being a snack for anyone else. The urchins are close cousins to the starfish and sand dollar. They don’t have fins, flippers or strong tails to help them swim, but they are super fast nevertheless. Why? Because they use their mouth, their hundreds of feet and spines all at the same time to move. Surprisingly, they run across the reef. They can cover a lot of ground and with their mouth on the underside and close to the reef, they can eat a lot while on the move. They are an underwater lawn mower sort of. They can snack on the run, or simply eat in peace and quiet knowing their spines have their back.
Venomous fish. This is a scorpionfish and it is very common, yet hard to find. It can raise its fin on its back, the dorsal fin, which has many pears with poison in them. The scorpionfish’s cousin, the free-swimming lionfish will turn it’s back and point all spears directly at fish it doesn't like. It sounds really scary but most fish on the reef know all the venomous fish and leave them alone. Most venomous fish use the poison as a warning. The scorpionfish are very hard to see and they lay on the bottom for hours. So having the spines on their back helps them scare off other fish that might lay on top of them. It is a good thing.