Marine life consists of the plants and animals living in the ocean. These plants and animals have certain characteristics that enable them to live there. Here are 25 Characteristics of Marine Life. Find out what makes them survive the marine ecosystem.
1. Absorbing Salt Water
Creatures of marine life are able to take in salt water into their bodies. An example of this is fish. Fish has the ability to filtrate the salt water by using their gills. Salt regulation is a vital characteristic since, after all, the ocean waters are composed of salt minerals. (Read more: Salinity of Ocean Water)
2. Taking In Oxygen From Water
Another characteristic of marine life is the ability to absorb oxygen inside the water. By using gills or skin, marine fish can get their oxygen. As for marine mammals, they often come up to the surface of the water. There, they briefly breathe in oxygen while still being underwater. Mammals such as whales have blowholes to equip them with this process. (Read: Threats to Ocean Ecosystems)
3. Storing Oxygen for A Long Period
Marine mammals must be able to store oxygen inside their bodies for a long period of time. This is because the only way they can take in oxygen is by coming up to the water surface. When they dive back in, they use the stored oxygen to live. They are able to store oxygen for an hour or more.
4. Most Marine Animals are Cold Blooded
Most of the animals in marine life are cold-blooded or otherwise known as ectothermic. Being cold-blooded means that they can adjust their body temperature to the surrounding environment. So, most of the time these cold-blooded creatures have the same temperature as the ocean water. Cold-blooded creatures need less energy and less food. (Also read: Fishes in Atlantic Ocean )
5. Marine Mammals are Warm-Blooded
In comparison to other marine creatures who are cold-blooded, the marine mammals are actually warm-blooded or endothermic. But they have layers of fat and tissues underneath the skin known as blubber. The blubber on some marine mammals can be very thick.This blubber helps to maintain their body temperature while living inside the ocean. (Read:Threats to Marine Mammals )
6. Marine Life Can Withstand Strong Water Pressure
The water pressure of the ocean is strong. It gets heavier and heavier when diving deep into the ocean. 7 kg of water pressure is added for each depth of 30 cm. For marine creatures that travel from shallow to deep parts of the water, they are able to collapse their lungs and rib cages. This characteristic helps them to survive the changing water pressure of the ocean. (Read: Stages of Ocean Basin Evolution)
7. Marine Invertebrates Can Survive Strong Wind and Waves
Whereas marine animals can withstand the increasing level of water pressure, most marine invertebrates can survive strong wind and waves. There are some zones of the ocean where the wind and waves are strong, such as the sea shore. Most marine invertebrates live here. They are able to clutch on hard surfaces like rocks to avoid being carried away. (Also read: List of Marine Invertebrates)
8. Marine Life Use Echolocation
The deepest parts of the ocean can get very dark or murky. This is because there is less light penetrating through the water. So, it can also get hard to see anything within the surrounding area. Echolocation is a characteristic that most marine creatures have. They help to locate prey or food by hearing, not by seeing.
Read more: Types of Dolphins
9. Some Marine Organisms are Bioluminescent
Light cannot pass through the extremely deep parts of the ocean at all. This means that it is completely dark there. In these parts of the ocean, some organisms have the bioluminescent ability. This ability helps them light up their way or to attract prey. The organisms may already have organs that can light up or they rely on illuminating bacterias.
10. Marine Life Can Camouflage
An important characteristic of marine life is camouflaging. Marine creatures are able to camouflage themselves with their surrounding areas. They can blend in with the environment because of their unique patterns and colours. This can help them to avoid lurking predators. It can also help them to quietly get close to their prey or food. (Read: Facts about Starfish)
11. Many Marine Creatures are Huge
Many kinds of marine life can grow to huge sizes. They are so large and often nicknamed as monsters of the sea. The reason for this is the reduced force of gravity. There is less gravity inside deep oceans which allows them to be large. Marine creatures that are famously large include the humpback whales, giant squid and manta rays.
Read more: Conservation of Blue Whales
12. Strong External Skeletons or Shells
The condition of the ocean can be harsh sometimes. But, marine life has strong external skeletons or shells that can provide protection. For example, seastars or starfish have external skeletons that are hard. The skeletons reduce their vulnerability to the extreme environment. Sea snails have shells that can protect them from predators or that can be used as shelter.
13. Streamlined Body Shape
Through observations, we can see that most marine creatures have streamlined body shape. Marine mammals such as dolphins and sharks have this characteristic. The streamlined shape helps them to swim swiftly and efficiently. It reduces water resistant to their bodies. The animals can move quickly and flow more freely inside the ocean water. (Read: Facts of Whale Shark)
14. Marine Life Carry Out Filter Feeding
Filter feeding is when marine creatures feed themselves by sucking from the sea water. Clams or sea squirts suck in the sea water and filter it. All they take is the food particles only. Other creatures such as whales or whale sharks also have this characteristic. Sometimes they open their mouths while swimming through planktons. The food are filtered through their gills or baleen plates.
15. Venoms are Common in Marine Life
There are many kinds of marine life with venoms. Creatures with venoms include starfish, sea snails and sea snakes. They don’t use venoms to attack humans unless they are provoked. Their venoms are mostly used to stun their preys so they can eat them. Other than that, they are also used to paralyse predators.
16. Marine Animals Have Fins
Almost all marine animals have fins on their bodies such as fish, sharks or dolphins. Fins are extremely crucial in helping these creatures to move around in water. They help to stabilise their swimming. Moreover, fins can help to move forward, turning around, move upward or even stopping in the middle of water. (Read: Endangered Tuna Species)
17. Marine Mammals Have Hair
Some of the marine mammals actually have hair. For example, the dolphins and the whales. Dolphins have hair when they are young but as they grow old, the hair fall out. All that is left are tiny marks on their chins. As for the whales, some may have hair for the rest of their lives. The hair on these mammals act as sensing mechanism. (Read: Ways to Save the Dolphins )
18. Marine Plants Have Long Stems
Even though marine plants grow underwater, they are still plants that need light to carry out photosynthesis. Sunlight can pass through water, so the stems of marine plants are often very long. Long stems enable the plants to absorb all the light. The plants may even float near the surface so they can absorb more sunlight. (Read: Types of Kelp)
19. Most Marine Plants Have Waxy Leaves and Stems
Marine plants need water too but due to the environment that they are in, the only water they can take in contains salt. Taking in high concentration of salt may cause dehydration or salt poisoning to the marine plants. To combat this, marine plants have the characteristic of having thick, waxy leaves and stems. They help to reduce the intake of saltwater for the plants. (Read: Plants in the Coral Reef)
20. Marine Life Do Sleep
Sleep is a characteristic that most marine life have. Dolphins and whales are known to sleep horizontally or vertically in the water. Sleep is important to them because of their heavy activities. Some marine life don’t sleep though. Some species of fish must continue to swim and never sleep. They need water in their gills so they can still breathe in water. (Read: Types of Small Ocean Fish)
21. Many Marine Creatures Migrate
Most of marine creatures migrate to other places seasonally in search of food or mating. Whales and salmon are such creatures. In the summer, whales migrate to the Arctic to look for krill as preys. Salmon migrates to other places in search of nutrients.
22. Most Marine Life Don’t Have Necks
Fish and marine mammals don’t have necks. Having a neck would slow down their swimming speed. The neck would rapidly bobs forward and backward if they happen to swim within deep water pressure. (Read: Animals in the Great Barrier Reef)
23. Marine Life Have Large Veins
Marine life have larger veins than the average land creatures. The large veins help to carry blood to various organs in the body in the cold water. Other than that, the large veins can also withstand the water pressure of the ocean.
24. Marine Life Have Flippers
Most marine life have flippers such as seals. The flippers help the creatures to swim with ease in the water. Besides that, when these animals get out of the water they can use their flippers to mover around on land. (Read: Types of Sea Lions )
25. Marine Life Have Extremely Sharp Teeth
The average marine life have sharp teeth. Some may be small or huge but still, they are very sharp. The sharp teeth help to break down prey or fight off other predators.
The plants and animals of the marine life share commmon characteristics. These characteristics help them survive the brutal condition of the ocean. They have also helped them to live for thousands of years and will continue to help them live in the coming years.