July 2017: Biology
Biology is an area of science focused on the study of living organisms. This includes their structure, function, growth, identification and more. Marine biology specifically is the focus of studying living things in the sea. If you love animals and nature, biology is a perfect area of science for you to explore more!
It’s a well known image associated with the ocean: sharks circling around their prey. However, it's not for the reason you might think. Sharks do not circle their prey because they are planning on attacking. They actually do it because they cannot see well. Sharks have extremely poor eyesight, and therefore circle things in the water to get a better picture of what they are.
Sharks can actually sense electric fields in the water, and rely on this sensing in addition to their eyesight. The circling around things in the water gives them the time to combine these senses and get a better picture of what is in the water with them.
Kelp are large brown algae that live in shallow waters close to land. They often form forests underwater as a result of growing close to one another in the water. These forests are full of animal and plant life! Most commonly found in this ecosystem are invertebrates and fish. Sea otters are extremely important to keeping kelp forests alive because they eat sea urchins and other invertebrates that graze on giant kelp. Without otters, sea urchins would eat and destroy the kelp forests around them.
Learn more about kelp forests:
Coral may appear solid and unmoving, but it is actually alive! Coral is a marine invertebrate (has no spine) that tends to live in compact colonies called coral reefs. Although some coral have tentacles and the ability to catch fish, many live off of algae that feed off sunlight. This is why you often see coral reefs in clear water close to the surface.
Ocean Fast Facts
- Deepest Free Dive: 214 meters (702 feet
- Deepest point in the Ocean: Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench 10,994 meters (36,070 feet) below sea level
- There have only ever been 4 descents to Challenger Deep, 2 manned and 2 unmanned
- The deepest diving mammals are Cuvier's beaked whales who can dive to nearly 10,000 feet(3,000 meters)
The word conch is often used to refer to many species of snails and shells of similar appearance that have a signature curved shape to their shell. In North America, Conch refers to the queen conch, a species of sea snail, found off of the coast of Florida. It can also refer to other sea snails and mollusks with a curved smooth shell and spiral lines.
July's STEM Star
Our theme for June is “Biology" and we have an awesome biology STEM Star to talk about it! Meet Melissa Marquez and read out full interview with her here.
Also, Melissa wrote 2 blogs for us this month to share some more about life in the ocean.