Friday, January 19, 2018

Big and Small Creatures

October 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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big and small creatures 1

Looking out across the Long Island Sound, you might just see a reflection of the sky and passing boats, but another world exists below the water. It’s amazing to think about all the different living things that thrive in our waters, from huge whales to teeny plankton.

North Atlantic right whales are the largest creatures that live in the Sound. These black whales (often with white bellies) grow as long as 50 feet and can weigh up to 200,000 pounds — that’s the weight of 20 school buses! And although you might expect these giants to have sharp, scary teeth like a shark, they have no teeth at all. Instead, they have keratin, a material similar to your fingernails, hanging inside their mouths. They eat creatures like krill, which are little enough to be filtered through their keratin.  Right whales are well known for their mouthlines that look like frowns. They are slow swimmers compared to other whales, going at about six miles per hour, around the same speed as an average person running. Every twenty minutes, they come up for air (don’t forget that they’re mammals, just like us, who need their oxygen). North Atlantic right whales are actually an endangered species — the environmental toxins produced by marine algae are toxic to them.

Whales eat plankton, one of the smallest creatures found in the Long Island Sound. Unlike what they look like in a SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon, most plankton are actually too small to be seen by our eyes — around 2,000 can fit on the head of one sewing pin! There are thousands of different species of plankton in the Long Island Sound, and they can be spotted in very large groups, called blooms, turning the water green, red or brown.

by Lauren Sarrantonio

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webPlus_web_green1What do whales sound like?

http://oceantoday.noaa.gov/whalecall/

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