Kelp Forest

Leopard Shark

 

 

One of 340 different sharks is the leopard shark. The leopard shark is a mix of gray and yellow, having black spots covering it - almost like a leopard. To humans, this shark is completely harmless. It is aproxximently five feet long. They are found on the west coast of California or the kelp forest. Humans hunt this animal for its meat.

The leopard shark lives in the Pacific kelp forests along with hundreds of other animals. The leopard shark lives more toward the surface than the bottom. Without leopard sharks and other sharks, their prey would over populate the ocean. Actually, sharks help the aquatic food chain by doing this. The leopard shark eats tiny fish, mollusks, and arthopods. The predators of the leopard shark are of course humans, orcas, and dolphins.

Covering the skin of the leopard shark are scales, which cover all fish. Sharks have a special kind of scales called denticle. Denticle are similar to the shark's teeth. The denticle are wedged together to cover the skin of the leopard shark. The leopard shark is consistently being hunted for its meat. An icthyologist once said, "There are a great many more sharks eaten by people than there are people eaten by sharks." That statement is true. About ten people are killed by sharks. None of those ten are killed by leopard sharks.

In order to breathe the leopard sharks have gill slits. Gill slits are narrow opening on either side of the sharks body. Usually, the leopard shark has five gill slits on each side, ten total. A gill raker is part of the leopard shark's gill that keeps food from ecscaping through their gills. Most of the time, the gill raker is inside the mouth. It looks like the bristles on a broom.

 Sharks are not bony fish. The shark's skeleton is made of cartiledge. Cartliledge is soft, but extremely strong. The leopard shark has two dorsal fins, which keep them from tipping over. The kelp forest provides a home, food, and life for the leopard shark.


Sea Otter

The sea otter or marine otter is an endangered species. The sea otter goes under the weasel family along with badgers, skunks, and beavers. The size of sea otters is 1.2 meters or about four feet. It weighs eight to ten pounds. Sea otters have slender body with rectangular arms and legs. Their are a variety of colors for the sea otter. The main color of the sea otter is a dark brown. Often, it can have tan spots scattered around its body. Sea otters are found mainly in the Pacific ocean. The sea otters eating habits are extremely weird. A sea otter dives to the bottom of the ocean and gets a rock and usally a mollusk. Then they rise to the surface and brake the shell with the rock. That is how it eats.

 Hunters back in the 1700's hunted sea otters a lmost to extinction. They were Russian sailors exploring the cold Alaskan sea looking for sea otters. The pelts of the sea otter was sold for high prices in other countries. A couple of hunters killed 5,000 yearly, because of this, sea otters nearly became extinct. The United States, Japan, Great Britian, and Russia signed a treaty to limit hunting. Its prey are clams and sea urchins. Sea otters have no blubber to keep warm, so their fur traps air to keep them warm. Oil spills are especially dangerous to sea otters. The oil prevents them from getting warm. Then they freeze. That is my report on sea otters.


Sting Ray

There are lots of kinds of rays. One of the types of rays are called skates. The skates have over 200 species worldwide. They live near the bottom of all oceans, from shallow estuarines to deep-sea habitats. It is usually found in the eastern Atlantic. The Thornback ray is another type of ray that lives in shallow European coast. The rays and skates have a certain way of breathing. On the seabed, the rays try to avoid breathing sand. They breathe through two holes that are on the top of their head behind their eyes. These holes are called spiracles. They are opened and closed with flaps of tissue. The electric rays and their allies have electric organs located beside of the disk. That is behind their eyes. They are capable of getting high voltage. The electric rays have forty species world wide, mostly in the tropical seas. The Sting rays are not an animal that eats a lot. When they do eat, they usually eat squid or small fish. Another interesting fact is that sting rays rarely attack humans.


Green Sea Turtle

Many animals live in the kelp forest. One of my favorites is the green sea turtle. I have chosen the green sea turtle, because I have had an interest in turtles for years. The green seaturtle is an endangered species, and there are only about 12 beaches left on the earth that they go to. Their shell size is 31.5-43". They weigh about 242.6-408 lbs. They live in a salt water habitats all over the world, except in the Arctic area. They migrate about 1,242.8 miles. They are in the vertebrate group. The females will lay an average of three clutches of eggs. They won't lay eggs until they are at the age of 15-50. Their skin is covered by scales. They were named for their green fat. They usually live in warm places. They are cold blooded, so they have to depend on their own habitat to keep themselves warm. They are reptiles - that means that they have to go to the surface every few minutes to get air, so they can breath. They can't hide in their shells like most land turtles, and they have to keep their heads out of their shells at all times. They move by moving their two front and two back flippers. They have been recorded to be able to move through the water at up to 35 mph. The adults sleep on the surface. The baby turtles are called hatchlings. The mother buries her eggs in the sand along shore, and when they hatch the hatchlings crawl to the ocean. During the time that they are buried, makes the difference whether they become males or females. The hatchlings are still being illegally smuggled by poachers.


California Moray Eel

Did you know that there is over 200 species of Moray eels, including the Califoria Moray eel? They look slimy and fish like. Their skin's color is a shade of light to dark browns and greens. The Moray eels don't have a fin on the bottoms of their tails. They live in salt water habitats. They are protective over their homes towards other animals and humans. They are known to bite other people. They eat fish, crustaceans, octopus, shrimp, crab, and whole shellfish. They are born on the coast of Baja California in Mexico. Their lifespan is 30 years at the most. They live mostly 150 feet below the ocean surface. There are about 600 different species of eels all over the world. Most Moray eels live in a saltwater habitat. They are active at night. They breath through their skin. Some live at the temperatures of 60 degrees F, or 16 degrees C. Their scientific name is GYMNOTHRAX MORAX. The males get up to be five feet in length and the females can only get up to four feet long. They have a large mouth of curved back teeth and are known to bite when they are attacked or encountered. They are born as larva or larvae. Then they turn into "glass eels" or "elvers".


Sockeye Salmon

The sockeye's scientific name is oncorhynchus (on-cor-inc-us) nerka. A sockeye, of course, starts out as an egg. When it hatches, it becomes what is called an alevin. Then, as it grows older, it becomes what is called a fry. Then it becomes a parr, then a smolt, then a sea-going adult. Finally, it becomes a breeding adult. The sockeye's eggs are laid and hatched in gravel nests in freshwater streams. The alevin stays in the nest until it absorbs the nutrients in its yolk sac. Then it emerges as a feeding and swimming fry. The fry then leaves the stream and becomes a parr, living in small lakes and rivers. Then, it becomes a silvery smolt and enters the sea. While in the sea, the sockeye becomes a sea-going adult. After a period of its life, it changes in color and shape and returns to the stream that it hatched in to spawn (breed) and die. The cycle begins again. The sockeye lives near eastern Asia, Alaska, British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington. The average of a four-year-old sockeye's weight is 3 kg. An even older sockeye can sometimes reach 5.5 kg. When a sockeye is a sea-going adult, smolt and a parr, it resembles a trout. When it's an alevin and a fry, it resembles a minnow. Once a male becomes a breeding adult, he develops a humped back and large, hooked jaws. He becomes redish and greenish. The female doesn't change quite as much. A sockeye has round scales. Its teeth are sharp and curved. A sockeye is a predator. It eats mostly plankton. It is also very good for eating. Its red flesh is very oily and keeps it's color under all conditions of storage. It's meat is very tender. Sockeyes are hunted by Inuit Eskimos (they live in Alaska). The sockeye is an important food source to the Eskimos' diet. This concludes my report on the sockeye salmon.


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Date Updated: January 18, 2001