Amazing Ocean

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The ocean is everything. It covers seven-tenths of the Earth. Its breath is pure and healthy. There is an immense desert where a man is never alone, where he can feel how the lives of all tremble inside of him. The sea is just a container for all the tremendous, supernatural things that exist in it. "It is not only movement and love, "but the living infinity." So wrote Jules Verne, about 150 years ago, in his classic adventure story 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

And his words are as true today as they were back then. Anyone who has ever looked down on a great ocean has probably been impressed by the sheer size of it. A size which seems to stretch on almost forever. Whether it is the smooth, blue surface of the water, or the rough, towering waves as they break and crash, the sea is always breathtaking. But then, if you look below the surface, you will discover a totally new and fascinating world. It is a world full of life, colour and variety,  full of fabulous, almost fairytale, creatures and landscapes.

It is little wonder that the sea and its inhabitants have provided us with so much inspiration for so many stories. Take these little guys for example. Do they seem familiar? Perhaps in the way they are sometimes mischievous and sometimes timid, hiding between these sea anemones. Of course, these are the stars of the wonderful animated film Finding Nemo which turned clown fish into world-famous movie actors. In the film, Nemo's father goes on a long and perilous journey to find his lost son. But in real life, clown fish try to avoid leaving the symbiosis they share with the sea anemone.

Sea anemones are protected by the clown fish and butterfly fish. And these fish are, in turn, some of the few fish that are resistant to the poison arms of the sea anemones. And the sea anemones protect our little Nemo from all the other predators. Fascinating, isn't it? Just as the anemone provides a home for the clown fish, the whole sea and the coral reefs offer a home to a vast multitude of sea dwellers. The corals can be as big as cities, in which very different sea creatures have gathered to live side by side.

And yet, there are some animals which live all by themselves, and others that only feel good when they are on the move in huge swarms.Let's take a look at some schools of fish as they go about their business. Here we see a large swarm of striped grunters, also known as pigfish. Elegantly and skilfully, swarm fish swim in the same direction and in near perfect formation It is almost as if they are being directed by a mysterious internal instinct.

Also, to be part of a big swarm makes sense to a small fish because it is always dangerous under the water and you have to be constantly on your guard as you are likely to have many pairs of eyes on you at any one time. Because every individual is surrounded by its own co-species, the swarm builds its own protection. Even a large predator will think twice before attacking such a huge,
threatening-looking swarm. And if he should attack, the chances of survival for any one individual in the protection of a swarm are not too bad.

There are habitual swarm fish that swim together all their lives, but there are also opportunist swarm fish which only pull together during an attack, or in times of danger. It can also happen that very different types of fish will build a swarm. These swarms show even more vividly the great patterns and colours of the fish. Here, you can truly see the overwhelming power and beauty of nature. There are so many different species of fish, that sometimes it is hard to find an appropriate name for all of them.

For this one, however, the choice was pretty easy. The parrot fish owes its name to its striking similarity to the colourful bird. They are not only just as colourful as their feathered namesake, but their numerous teeth are arranged in a way that resembles a parrot-like beak. This tooth construction enables them to rasp algae from coral and other rocky substrates. They are even able to grind up coral rock, which they ingest during feeding. After they digest the rock, they excrete it as sand, helping to create small islands and sandy beaches.

One parrot fish can produce 90 kilograms of sand each year. This special feature of the parrot fish is a valuable contribution to our ecosystem as it saves the coral reefs from being overgrown with seaweed. The parrot fish also has a very good friend, the trumpet fish. They both like to swim together through the reef. As they swim, the trumpet fish likes to eat whatever the parrot fish stirs up and does not want to eat alone. Outside of mealtimes, however, trumpet fish can often be found alone.

They like to hang upside down in the water and float a little. Also, they often seek the proximity of coral branches in order to camouflage themselves, which all works out pretty well. They search for an environment that looks just like they do. They swim slowly, or lie motionless like a floating stick, swaying back and forth with the wave action of the water. When it comes to camouflage and disguise, the octopus is clearly in a different league. What this animal can do is nothing short of unbelievable. They simply adapt to their surroundings, whatever they may happen to be.

Take a look at how these quick-change artists can play us for a fool. By simply changing their colours, they can hide anywhere they want to, in plain sight. Here we see a damselfish interacting with an octopus. This is an excellent example of the damselfish's general compatibility with other fish and invertebrates. However, the colourful damselfish doesn't protect itself with camouflage. They find protection from predators amongst the stinging branches of the anemones. The damselfish can be found in all the seven seas.

The average size of damsels is around two inches, but they can reach over 14 inches in length. Damselfish even cultivate red filamentous algae. Garibaldi and damselfish are the only fish currently known to engage in farming or cultivating. That might be why damselfish are very settled and never leave their territory. Young damselfish are often very colourful. Brilliantly hued in blues, greens, violets, reds and browns. But with age, they lose their colourful appearance and all full-grown damselfish look more or less the same.

Sea turtles do not breathe through gills like fish, they need air like humans do. That's because they are descendants of the land-dwelling turtles that moved into the oceans about 100 million years ago. Even today, they still deposit their eggs on land and the little babies that hatch go right back into the water as fast as they can. Sadly, the sea turtle is an endangered species. The threat that endangers them is humans, who hunt them for their meat, their eggs, and their shells. The shells are considered to be a lucky charm in Asia. It seems to me that a live sea turtle itself should be considered a lucky charm because every time I see one my heart rejoices.

That's how beautiful and graceful they are. Now, most of us humans are trying to protect the sea turtles, and there have already been some notable successes along the way. All sea turtles are officially under species protection. Trading sea turtle products has been forbidden. It is also forbidden to capture or kill them. All around the planet, organisations and animal rights activists are trying to protect these animals by sealing off breeding areas, or by building new breeding stations. We humans have a real responsibility for the sea dwellers of this world. We should not treat this lightly. Jacques Cousteau, one of the greatest explorers and a very passionate diver, once put it this way. "Underwater.

"In this paradise, humans are merely guests, and they should behave that way. " Jellyfish have adapted themselves very well for life in this underwater paradise All jellyfish sting their prey, but this isn't always done intentionally, as even the slightest contact will trigger their automatic response mechanism to protect themselves by stinging any potential predator. Don't they look incredibly graceful as they float around? And speaking of graceful, squids are excellent swimmers. They are extremely active and they seem to do quite well when it comes to adapting to the changing environment around them. More than 300 different types of squid have been identified around the world.

The size of a squid can vary depending on the species. Some of them are only 24 inches long, while others are more than 40 feet in length. The heaviest squid ever found weighed more than 1,000 pounds. Maybe that's the reason for many old stories that depict them as monsters living in the deep. Corals can only be found in the ocean, especially around the Tropical Belt. There are soft corals, and stony corals. The stony corals form skeletons by storing limestone, which leads to the formation of coral banks or coral reefs. These skeletons often look like tree twigs, and the tips of those twigs are often covered with colourful polyps.

These polyps have a wide spectrum of colours which make the corals look like underwater flowering plants. Corals have existed for 400 million years. Like most deep-sea marine creatures, corals are filter feeders, which means that they get their nourishment through micro-plankton which contains nutrients as well as trace elements which the coral absorbs by filtering them through the ocean current.

The corals are endangered in many parts of the world, and yet they only have two real enemies. Global warming, which influences the algal growth and as a result, algae can then produce toxic substances that are harmful to corals, and humans who break them when they are industrial fishing or even only diving on vacation. A coral typically takes hundreds of years to fully grow, which is why we should be careful whenever we pay them a visit. This will ensure that not only we, but the generations that come after us, can fully enjoy the wonderful play of colours and the exciting hustle and bustle that corals play host to.

Encountering a ray is a terrific experience. Nothing compares to the graceful and weightless swimming of this marvellous fish. The ray has its mouth on its underside and it loves to search through the sand looking for food. When a ray swims through the reef it almost looks like it is flying. One species of ray is even named after a bird. The eagle ray. Rays can grow to be really large. The eagle ray, for example, can reach a wingspan of over eight feet. But you can certainly find bigger and tougher creatures in the depths of the ocean. Despite their size, or rather because of their enormous size, the sea cows, or manatees, are very pleasant cohabitants of the oceans.

They are very relaxed and curious. Because they are mammals, they must surface to breathe air. They are good swimmers in spite of their weight, and are never on their own. In the past, sailors who saw manatees often mistook them for mythical mermaids because of their tails. An easy mistake to make, as you can well imagine that the sudden and unexpected flash of a manatee tail at sea would be quite a shock to the extremely superstitious sailors of old. Sea lions can live in the water, but they can also live on land. While they are very lazy and slow on land, they make up for it with their staggering skills underwater.

They are as fast as rockets. They are agile, they perform somersaults, and are simply amazing. Look at just how much fun a sea lion can have in its cool and watery playground. And if you have ever seen dolphins underwater, you will know that they too rank among the very best swimmers, and that they also like to joke around once in a while. They simply love to swim inside streams and currents. And, of course, they definitely enjoy being on the move with their dolphin friends.

Compared to the dolphin, the blowfish is more of a loner, a very beautiful loner and also very cunning. If a blowfish feels threatened, it simply inflates itself with water and blows itself up to twice its normal size. This defence method has successfully thrown several opponents off track. However, the blowfish does not have a large number of enemies, and most of them are aware that its skin surface is protected by a nasty poison and this doesn't exactly make the blowfish a very desirable prey. Characterised by a bony, box-like shell, the trunkfish, or boxfish, has a very similar technique to protect itself. It secretes a colourless toxin from glands on its skin when touched.

There are about 20 species of trunkfish, including the cowfish, the blue and the grey boxfish, and as we can see here, the spotted trunkfish. Trunkfish are small. The largest species growing to about 20 inches. They are colourful fish with bright patterns of blue, red, white and black. Some species are even capable of changing their colour. Fish have often been a source of inspiration to us, and as a result they have been given beautiful and extraordinary names. Such as the French marine angelfish, which are some of the most alluring of all fish. Life in the coral reef is wild and it's thrilling. It is a never-ending spectacle and its biological diversity and wondrous forms and colours continue to startle and fascinate us.

Slow and stately, the angelfish moves at a leisurely pace amongst the coral heads and overhanging plate corals in search of food. There are around 100 different species of angelfish that inhabit the waters of the Southern Hemisphere. They can grow up to 12 inches and generally have very brightly coloured markings, but the exact colours depend on the species of angelfish. These remarkable goatfish have two barbels extending from the chin. These are used to probe the sand for food such as worms, brittle stars, crustaceans and small fish. The sand tilefish are remarkable, too.

These fish are simply tireless in their search through the sand and can dig up whole landscapes. They never seem to grow weary of digging their holes in the sand. Here are some more angelfish. They are aptly named, and they are best known for their vivacious colour display and their intricate patterns, which are known to change significantly as they grow old. Their bodies have a flat disc-like form that allows them to slip between rocky outcroppings and reef crevices. They are omnivores. That is, they usually eat both animals and plants. With a little luck, deep down at the far end of the reef you might find the enormous tarpons.

At over six feet long, they look most impressive and almost lordly. They inhabit tropical waters from Florida to South America. Perhaps the most unique internal feature of the tarpon is the modified swim bladder. This allows the tarpon to take oxygen directly from the atmosphere and thus increases its tolerance of oxygen-poor waters. The lion-fish is truly wonderful, and its diverse feathering makes it a coveted addition to show-aquariums. In fact, the lion-fish originally came from the waters of the Pacific Ocean, between Malaysia and Japan, its habitat being lagoons and outer reefs.

Since the end of the 20th century, the lion-fish has been sighted in the west part of the North Atlantic Ocean, from the coast of Florida up to North Carolina. Set free by aquarists, the lion-fish now has no natural enemies and breeds too strongly and too fast. Often, and without meaning to, humans interfere with ecosystems they do not completely understand and misfortunes are bound to occur, and sadly things might never go back to their natural order.

Watching manta rays as they swim is an extraordinary experience. Often they appear in pods, which is the term for when several fish swim together, and they like to visit cleaning stations. Including the tail, manta rays can range from 16 to 29 feet long. Their wide heads have slightly movable and rounded fins on both sides. These fins help them to direct plankton into their mouths. And there is no need to be afraid of their long tail, because it never carries a poisonous sting.

Mantas are very calm creatures and completely harmless to humans. This has been a truly fantastic journey. A journey all the way through the reefs of our amazing oceans, and I hope that it has brought you many unforgettable wonders to savour. Perhaps Jacques Cousteau put it best when he said, "The sea, once it casts its spell, "holds one in its net of wonder forever."

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