Did you know cucumbers grow deep in the sea as well? They are called sea cucumbers, and guess what! They are animals, not vegetables. Isn’t that fascinating? The oceans and the seas of the world are home to a variety of creatures that we, humans, have discovered only a fraction of. They survive and thrive in a way that affects our lives, too. Thus, a little exposure to their world can teach everyone, especially kids, why it is important to appreciate marine life. If you’re wondering where to begin – you could start with explaining what sea animals are, but don’t be surprised if your little one already knows a few. Think Nemo, Dory, SpongeBob SquarePants, etc. You’ll know what we’re talking about. Come, let’s dive into the world of sea animals!
What Are Sea Animals?
Sea animals are the animals that live deep in the seas. These include fish, like sharks, pufferfish, angelfish; molluscs like snails, clams, and oysters; crustaceans like crabs and shrimps; and mammals like whales, dolphins, sea lions, walruses, etc. Some birds, like the seagull, and reptiles like saltwater crocodiles and turtles are also known as sea animals.
It is believed that there are over 2 million more types of marine animals that we haven’t yet stumbled upon. When we do find them, we’ll have some more wonderful species to study! Now, we don’t mean to make it boring for you and your child by putting the word ‘study’ in here, but you know how it is – learning never stops no matter how old you are. So, why should you teach your child about sea animals? Well, as mentioned above, kids must know the importance of appreciating marine life and understand that marine life affects our lives, too. Let’s discuss this a little more in detail.
Why Teach Your Child About Sea Animals
To understand this better, you’ve first got to know why oceans are important to us. Over 70% of the earth is occupied by oceans. Yes, we know that you know this. But, did you know that the oceans store 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere and produce over half of the world’s oxygen? Mindblowing, right!
Now let’s get to the sea animals. These animals help in using up the carbon dioxide in the ocean, allowing the ocean to absorb some more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
According to a study published by the UN Environment Program, whales can help reduce climate change. How? By trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. You see, whales eat a lot, and they poo a lot, too. Thus, they excrete large quantities of nutrients. Also, when they swim to the surface, which they frequently do because their lungs need oxygen, they increase the availability of nutrients in the seawater, which assists in the growth of phytoplankton, very tiny marine algae found in the oceans. Phytoplankton absorbs carbon dioxide, just like the plants and trees on the surface of the earth.
Experts believe that other marine vertebrates, like sea turtles, tuna, sharks, sardines, dolphins, etc., can also help increase the capacity of the oceans to absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Thus, sea animals can help us curb the greenhouse effect, which leads to global warming and causes issues such as frequent heavy rains, droughts, floods, illnesses, etc.
In other words, sea animals have a major contribution to our living conditions. So, it is important that you teach your child about them and gradually bring their attention to the larger issues that they can work on to control when they grow up.
How To Teach What Sea Animals Are To Kids
We wish we could say, ‘Dive into the ocean and explore the world!’ But that’s not possible for everyone. So, you could head to the nearest aquarium. If you don’t have an aquarium nearby, or just like Gil, you believe that fish aren’t meant to be in a box, you may want to use the following ways to introduce more sea animals to your little one:
Flashcards promote learning and strengthen memory. Get the ones with basic information about sea animals for you and your child to read.
2. Marine Animal Toys
Depending on how old your child is, get some toys on the theme, like the Sea Animal Stick Puzzle. When your child plays with the toy, slip in a fun fact that they can remember the animal by. For example, dolphins are extremely intelligent and social sea animals. For some more fun facts, be sure you read the next sub-head, too.
3. Sea Animals Screen Time
Make your child’s screen time educational by showing them a short documentary on sea animals. A lot of content is already available and easily accessible on the internet. Add some popcorn to the plan and see your child learn as they enjoy!
4. Rhymes and Songs on Sea Animals
For younger kids, you may want to look up some rhymes on sea animals, like the Sea Animal Song by CoComelon Nursery Rhymes.
And here are the fun facts we were talking about!
Facts About Ocean Animals For Kids
When shared during gameplay or while exploring live sea animals, these facts are sure to add that ‘wow factor’ to your kid’s learning!
1. Types of Sea Animals
There are several types of sea animals. Some of them live in the seas, while some of them thrive around the seas.
- Fish – Fish are the sea animals that live and breathe underwater, have scaly skin, fins, and gills; for example, goldfish, guppy, catfish, bluefish, swordfish, sharks, manta rays, etc.
- Sea Mammals – Sea mammals are the animals that are dependent on the seas for survival; for example, whales, sea otters, sea lions, polar bears, etc.
- Seabirds – Seabirds live within the marine environment but not underwater; for example, seagulls, skimmers, penguins, albatross, gannets, etc.
- Marine Reptiles – These are the reptiles that can live in and around the seas, for example, sea turtles and saltwater crocodiles. Once upon a time, our planet had a large number of marine reptiles that are now extinct because could not evolve and survive.
- Mollusc – Molluscs are animals with soft bodies and hard shells that protect their bodies. Oysters, snails, octopuses, and squids are some molluscs found in the seas.
- Other Sea Animals – Other animals found in seas are sponges, corals, sea pineapple, sea squirts, etc.
2. What Do Sea Animals Eat?
Sea animals eat other fish, fish eggs and larvae, worms, floating insects, molluscs, algae, etc.
3. Which Sea Animals Eat Plants?
Fish like chubs, parrotfish, surgeonfish, blue tang, etc., eat plants that grow underwater. Larvae, too, often feed on the phytoplankton they live among till they become adult fish. Other animals like sea snails, krills, and sea turtles, also eat plants.
4. How Do Sea Animals Breathe?
Fish breathe through their gills, but many other sea animals have lungs and cannot breathe underwater. Therefore, animals like seabirds, polar bears, and turtles live on land, while some mammals, like whales and dolphins, frequent to the surface to breathe in oxygen.
5. How Do Sea Animals Survive in the Ocean?
Typically, the water pressure, temperature, light, and food availability remain stable over long periods of time. This allows the sea animals to survive unless external factors affect their marine environment, such as water pollution, excessive fishing, etc.
6. Some Possible Threats to Sea Animals
The land and ocean ecosystems are connected, and how we maintain them affects the sea animals. Here are some of them:
- Dumping of waste and garbage in the oceans
- Land runoff leads to harmful pesticides and chemicals being carried with soil, streams, and rivers into the seas
- Water and noise pollution due to the activities on the ships
- Emission of nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides
- Oil spills
- Ocean acidification, i.e., the continual decrease of seawater pH due to the absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
7. Other Facts About Sea Animals for Children
- The largest sea mammal, the blue whale, is also the largest known animal in the world.
- Sea turtles have been alive since dinosaurs lived on our planet.
- Most sharks are cold-blooded, but some, like the great white shark, are warm-bloodied.
- Mammals like sea lions, seals, and walruses are called pinnipeds as they have winged feet.
- Dolphins have excellent hearing and vision.
- Whales communicate by singing.
Now that you know some primary information about sea animals, we hope that you and your little one understand how the fascinating marine ecosystem is closely connected to our lives, and enjoy the journey as you learn some cool facts about sea animals.