Teaching children about animals is a great way to keep them constructively occupied, especially during their holidays. Children will love exploring the world of aquatic animals and learn amazing facts about them.
What are Aquatic Animals?
Aquatic animals are those animals that live in water. Those that live in ponds, lakes, and rivers are freshwater animals. The animals that live in the ocean are called marine animals. Some aquatic animals breathe oxygen from the water through gills, while others go to the surface to breathe air through lungs.
Different Types of Water Animals
Here is a list of various aquatic animals and interesting facts about them:
Molluscs include a large group of invertebrate aquatic animals such as squids, octopuses, cuttlefish, snails, slugs, mussels, clams, scallops, etc. They have soft bodies, no spine or skeleton and many of them are covered with a shell. They make up about 23% of all marine creatures. Cuttlefish, squids and octopuses have highly advanced nervous systems. They use their tongue-like radula to scrape off and eat tiny plants and animals sticking to underwater rocks. Mussels and oysters use their gills to filter food particles from the water to eat. Octopuses and cuttlefish can camouflage themselves to stealthily hunt and eat fish that are swimming by.
Crustaceans are a group of aquatic animals that are covered with a hard shell and include animals like shrimps, crabs, lobsters, prawns, hermit crabs, barnacles, and crayfish. Many crustaceans are scavengers that feed on dead creatures in the ocean. Lobsters and crabs hunt for tiny fish and sea creatures and catch their prey with their claws. Barnacles are filter-feeders that use the tiny hairs covering their legs to filter food particles from the water.
Whales are the largest animals on earth. They are marine mammals. give birth to live young and feed them with milk that they produce from their mammary glands. Whales feed on plankton, fish, krill, larvae, crabs, etc. Orcas, also called killer whales, are hunters that kill and eat smaller aquatic animals like sea lions, sharks, seals and even other whales.
Dolphins are highly intelligent aquatic mammals that belong to the toothed whale family. They eat squids, fish and seals. Some dolphins live in freshwater and are called river dolphins. Dolphins are very social and live in groups called ‘pods’ of about a dozen to over five hundred. They have been observed helping injured members of their pod, protecting human swimmers from sharks, and even guiding stranded whales out of shallow water.
Walruses are large, brown-coloured marine mammals that have flippers and tusks. They live in the North Pole, in the Arctic Ocean and Sub-arctic seas. They feed on mussels, clams and other sea creatures. They use their tusks to cut through ice and to defend themselves. They gather in large groups.
Sharks are marine predators. They have multiple rows of very sharp teeth and a skeleton made of cartilage. They breathe underwater through gills. They eat fish, molluscs, crustaceans, krill, plankton and even other sharks. They have a very strong sense of smell, and they can detect blood in the water from several miles away.
Rays are related to sharks. They have completely flat bodies with large, fanned-out wing-like fins that they flap up and down to swim. They have very long, thin tails with several species bearing sharp, venomous spines. The rays use them for defence and can cause painful wounds when they sting with the tail.
Corals are marine invertebrates that live in colonies. Thousands of tiny coral creatures called polyps attach to each other and to the ocean floor to form beautiful and colourful underwater colonies that look like underwater flowers and plants. Corals have tiny tentacles or arms that they use to filter food from the water and guide it into their mouths.
Alligators are large, partially-aquatic, lizard-like reptiles native to America and China. They are mainly freshwater animals, living in lakes, swamps, ponds, and rivers. They have broad, round snouts and are black coloured. They have tough armour-plated leathery skin. The young ones are dark coloured with yellow stripes. They are carnivores, feeding on deer, birds, small mammals, fish, crustaceans and other reptiles.
Crocodiles are very closely related to alligators. They are also large and lizard-like aquatic reptiles. They are found in Asia, Africa, Australia and America. Crocodiles have long, narrow snouts. They can live in both freshwater and saltwater. They live in rivers, lakes, ponds, swamps, estuaries, and deltas. They eat amphibians, birds, mammals, crustaceans, and even humans.
Turtles are aquatic reptiles that have a hard, bony which shields their body. They live in water most of their life. Freshwater turtles live in lakes and ponds. Sea-turtles live in the ocean and come out only to lay eggs on the sandy beach. They are omnivores that feed on plants, fish, snakes, insects, molluscs, frogs, grasses, other turtles, and algae.
Sea-horses are delightful little marine vertebrates that look like tiny horses with long tails. Their head and neck look similar to a horse, but they have a long snout and a curled tail that can grasp objects. They feed on larval fish and tiny crustaceans.
Salmon are freshwater fish that migrate to the ocean, only to return back home to reproduce and die. Salmon are eaten by humans as they are high in proteins, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.
Jellyfish are transparent, soft-bodied, jelly-like marine invertebrates. They have bell-shaped bodies with an umbrella-shaped head and several tentacles. They may be colourless or have bright colours like pink, blue or purple. Many jellyfish are luminescent – they emit light from their body. They have hundreds of venomous, sting cells in the tentacles that are used to paralyse prey. Jellyfish stings are very painful to humans, sometimes even deadly.
Eels are elongated fish that have a snake-like appearance. Their fins are fused to form one long ribbon running along the length of the body. They live in shallow oceans and burrow into the sand of the ocean bed. Some species of eels live in freshwater. Eels are eaten as food by humans.
Must Know Aquatic Animal Information and Facts for Kids
Facts about ocean animal habitat are very interesting for kids. Here is a list of amazing sea-creature information for kids that are fun to know:
- Though eels are eaten as food by humans, eel blood is toxic to us. However, cooking and digestion destroys the toxin present in eel blood.
- Seahorses mate for life. Also, the male seahorse carries the eggs in a pouch on his body until they hatch, and gives birth to miniature seahorses.
- Blue whales are the largest animals on earth. They can be between 23 to 30m. The largest blue whale recorded was 33m long. The heart of a blue whale is the size of a car, and its tongue weighs the same as an elephant.
- Some jellyfish are gigantic. The tentacles of giant Arctic jellyfish are over 36m long.
- Hermit crabs get their name because they use discarded shells of other crustaceans as their homes in order to protect their soft abdomens.
- Jellyfish existed much before dinosaurs and have been around for over 650 million years.
- An electric eel is not an eel, but a fish from the catfish family. It can produce electricity from its body that is strong enough to knock out a horse.
- Octopuses have blue blood. Their blood is copper-based to help it survive in very cold ocean temperatures, and this turns the blood blue.
- Turtles inhabit every continent on Earth except Antarctica.
- Starfish and oysters can change their gender.
- When dolphins sleep, half their brain is awake, and one eye is open to look out for predators.
- The sea-sponge is a marine animal that has no head, mouth, eyes, heart or brain.
- The smallest seahorse is tinier than a postage stamp.
- The blue whale has the loudest call of any animal. Its whistle measure 188 decibels.
- Starfish can have even 16 arms, and they have an eye at the end of each arm. Also, their arm regrows fully if it is cut-off.
- When an octopus is threatened, it shoots a cloud of black ink.
- To attract the females, male walruses make a noise that sounds like a bell.
- Dolphins can hear sounds underwater from a distance of over 25km.
- Sea-otters sleep and eat in the ocean. They wrap themselves in seaweed to prevent drifting away while they are asleep.
- Dolphins and whales live in water but cannot breathe underwater as they do not have gills.
- Sea turtles and crocodiles remove excess salt from their bodies through their eyes, which is why they look like they are crying.
- The box jellyfish is very venomous, and the quantity of venom in one of these creatures can kill more than 50 people.
- The blue-ring octopus is a tiny, golf-ball sized creature but is extremely poisonous.
- Giant squids have eyes as enormous as basketballs.
- The longest living aquatic animals are the deep-sea clam that can live up to 100 years, the Marion tortoise that lives for 152 years, and the fin whale that can live up to 116 years.
Feel free to keep coming back to this page or take a print-out so that your kids can revise the mentioned facts.
This information on various aquatic animals will keep your child captivated. If your child shows an interest in animals and other creatures of the world, he is a nature smart kid. To enhance this ‘smart’ as well as identify your little one’s other inclinations, introduce him to activity boxes designed for kids. Let him master his skills by means of fun!
Also Read: Amazing Facts About Animals for Kids