There is a tremendous variety of life in the world. Few of us can identify all of the birds that soar above us, the flowers and grasses that spring forth from the fertile ground, or the 850,000 identified species of insects (the largest single group of extant organisms). The creatures in the seas, however, have fascinated us perhaps more than any other living creatures. Fifteen hundred years before Christ was born, Moses recorded that God had created the oceans and seas with “an abundance of living creatures” (Genesis 1:20). We had no idea just how accurate that statement was until the science of oceanography (and, more specifically, the science of marine biology) came into its own. Once we developed not just the desire to study the Earth’s oceans and seas, but also the technology to master them, it became apparent to us that most of the world’s species of animals live in the water, not on dry land. And many of them certainly rank among the most intriguing!
The oceans teem with extraordinary and wondrous organisms that variously fill us with awe, engulf us with terror, or leave us struggling to find adequate terms to describe their innate beauty. From the largest creature ever to inhabit the Earth (the blue whale—which has a heart the size of a small car!), to the tiniest zooplankton, we often find ourselves filled with astonishment at the extraordinary niches they inhabit, the amazing tasks they perform, and the intricate design they exhibit.
For example, squids manufacture and expel ink. Various species of eels generate electricity. Octopi use undulating tentacles to ensnare prey. Eagle rays dip their wing-like pectoral fins into the mud while using suction to pull out clams. Some mussels produce powerful chemicals that “drill” out holes in hard coral for a habitation. Dolphins use sonar to communicate. And so on (see Macquitty, 2000, pp. 10,25,29,33).
Can you imagine a fish that looks like a horse—but swims like a submarine? God apparently did—and then created the “stallion of the sea”—the superb sea horse. These peculiar “horses,” however, do not gallop gracefully through a flowering valley, drink from a long wooden trough, or journey across the dusty, remote trails under a magnificent, vibrant sunset. Rather, these horses stylishly swim within the kelp-filled meadows of the sea….
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