Beaked whales are average-sized whales that have a uniquely pointed, or beaked nose, similar in shape to a dolphin’s snout. These toothed whales grow to lengths of 13 to 43 feet and weigh up to 16 tons. The average lifespan for beaked whales is fairly long, 54 years for females and 84 years for males. Because of their preferred deep-sea habitat, less is known about beaked whales than other species.
Beaked whales (Berardius bairdii) can be found living in schools in the cold waters of Alaska. They take long deep dives, plunging down for 11 to 30 minutes, even up to an hour or more, to gather their favorite seafood, such as sardines, crustaceans, sea cucumbers, squid, mackerel and octopus.
Coral is an Anthozoa that live in colonies and form the vital reefs that sustain ocean ecosystems. Sometimes called the rainforests of the seas, coral reefs provide the primary habitat to more than a quarter of the ocean’s animals. Unfortunately, coral reefs are threatened. Excessive amounts of carbon dioxide, overfishing, and water pollution is causing bleaching, what happens when coral colonies die off. About 10% of the ocean’s reefs are dead, and 60% are at risk.
Coral is a prehistoric organism, and, luckily, like the sea sponge, it lives virtually forever. On average, coral reefs are 5,000 to 10,000 years old! Coral have a stomach and a mouth. The mouth is surrounded by stinging tentacles that suck in its food. They grow very slowly, about 1 to 8 inches per year. Coral reefs cover only about 1% of the ocean floor.
Also known as Darby’s sturgeon, Chiangjiang sturgeon, and river sturgeon, the Yangtze Sturgeon (Acipenser dabryanus) comes from the Yangtze River in China. Unfortunately, due to overfishing, dam construction, and pollution, this amazing fish is on the brink of extinction. Its species is 250 million years old, a contemporary of the dinos. Hopefully, it will overcome the harsh effects of modernity now that a recent experiment to breed the fish has been successfully completed.
The Yangtze sturgeon can live an astounding 100 years feeding on aquatic plants and small fish. They can grow to a great length of 16 feet and weigh 200, to a jaw-dropping, 1,100 pounds. They are the world’s largest sturgeon.
This tortoise, also known as a Greek tortoise, with the scientific name Testudo graeca, is an evolutionary champion. Existing since the Mesozoic era, about 220 million years ago, today the spur-thighed tortoise can easily live over 125 years! Some unverified accounts say this tortoise has reached 200 years.
Many people keep this tortoise as a pet. The only problem is they require a lot of space and they can outlive you. Though they may seem low-maintenance because of their long hibernation periods, they do need specific housing and foods.
The White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) is a giant freshwater fish that can live 100 years. Growing to 20 feet long and clocking in at upwards of 1,500 pounds, this distinctive fish could easily be mistaken for a mythical creature on par with the Loch Ness monster. Its unique features add to its frightening appearance. Instead of a dorsal fin, the white sturgeon has a dense spiny ridge lining its back from head to tail. The strange bumps are reminiscent of a dinosaur’s back and could look alarming slicing across the water’s surface.
Amazingly, these river and lake leviathans, the largest freshwater fish in North America, can also live in the sea. They can be found in the Gulf of Alaska to Monterey, California. And their species has existed since the beginning of time. Sturgeons predate the T-Rex and are from the Cretaceous period. Their ancient background is why they look so unusual. Unlike most fish, the sturgeon lack scales and have shark-like skin and cartilaginous skeletons.