Sea & Me Activities
What is The Sea & Me?This page offers information, activities and links designed to compliment the exhibit's interactive features and encourage the exploration of nature. Click here for information on the exhibit.
The Curiosity of Children
Children are naturally curious. This interest with the unknown enhances their potential to learn. This page offers information, activities and links designed to compliment The Sea & Me's interactive features and encourage the exploration of nature. The contents will change weekly, so we encourage you to check back often for new ideas on how you can get outdoors and explore the amazing world around you!
Submarine Sea Lab Question Center
Welcome aboard our life-sized mini sub, "The Sea Lemon." Kids of all ages can use the power of their imaginations and the sub's interactive features to explore the depths of the sea. If you visit the Submarine Sea Lab, you will notice the adjacent wall where kids can post questions that puzzle them most about the ocean and marine life.
Although we encourage you to conduct your own investigation and answer your own questions when possible, we will choose some of the more compelling inquiries from the wall and post answers here.
Do fish fart? A recent study of herring revealed that they produce a sound “like someone blowing a high-pitched raspberry” along with a fine stream of bubbles from their anus. The researchers from Bamfield Marine Science Centre named this Fast Repetitive Tick (or FRT for short). They think that the air is probably from the swim bladder, not digestive gasses like human farts, and it may be a way for herring to stay in schools by communicating at a frequency higher than their predators can hear. Click here to see a video about FRT’s. Source | Source
Are electric eels really electric? How many volts does an electric eel have? Yes, electric eels store bio-electricity in specialized cells called electrocytes. An electric eel can generate 600-1000 volts to stun prey or predators. This is over 5 times as many volts as an electrical socket in your home (110 volts). They can also use a 10 volt charge as a form of radar. Source
What do jellies feel like? Do jellies feel slimy? Squishy? Speaking from personal experience, they feel slimy and squishy – kind of like Jello. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has directions for making gelatin the consistency of a sea jelly which you can see by clicking here. Source
What are sea jellies made of? Sea jellies, or jellyfish are mostly made of water—about 96% water, which is why they are a “blob of goo” when they wash up on shore. However, being mostly water allows them to float gracefully through the ocean. The rest of their body made up of protein (3%) and minerals. Source | Source
What do Jellies eat? Do jellies eat fish? How do jellies get their food? Jellies eat plankton, fish eggs, fish and invertebrates. They typically catch their food with their tentacles as they float, stunning prey with their stinging tentacles. Some larger species of jellies will even eat other jellies, such as the Lion’s Mane jelly. The bell of a Lion’s mane jelly can grow to eight feet and their mass of hanging tentacles have a very strong sting. Source | Source
What makes jellies sting? Does every part of the jelly sting you? Jellies have stinging cells called nematocysts on the outer layer of their skin. The highest concentration of nematocysts is in the tentacles. The cells have a capsule structure shaped like “a long tubule which turns inside out like the finger of a glove during discharge, thus releasing the deadly poison into the prey.” (Tim Sandle, Digital Journal) Click here to see a really cool video of the nematocysts of a jellyfish as they sting. Source | Source
Why do jellies sting you? Jellies sting to catch prey – it’s how they survive. The nematocysts fire involuntarily in response to specific chemical and mechanical cues. So if you brush up against a jelly by accident, the jelly will sting you – they can’t really control it. Source
Do jelly fish sting each other? It’s unknown if jellies can sting each other. Since many species swim together in schools, it is thought that don’t sting each other. On the other hand, some larger jelly species eat smaller jellies, so it’s possible that these types could sting other jellies. Source
On the Oregon Coast there are small sea animals in the tide – they look like small shrimp or kelp or something. What are they? They are probably Pacific Mole Crabs. These crustaceans live in the swash zone, between where the highest and lowest waves fall. It could also be a California beach hopper. Beach hoppers are mostly nocturnal, hiding under driftwood and sand, and eat decaying seaweed that washes ashore.
What are the bouncy bugs on the beach? They are probably sand fleas (taxonomic family Talitridae), which are known for their hopping ability. Note: “Sand flea” is also a common name for the pacific sand crab, which does not bounce.
Do fish sleep? Sort of. Fishes have times of reduced activity and metabolism that have similar restorative functions as sleep, but they don’t have the same kind of altered brainwaves as humans do when we sleep. Source
What is the smallest fish in the world? The Paedocypris progenetica is a 7.9mm long fish that was discovered in an acidic peat swamp in Indonesia. This makes it not only the world’s smallest fish, but also the world’s smallest vertebrate (animal with a backbone). Source | Source
What is the heaviest fish ever recorded in history? The sunfish, or mola mola, is the heaviest bony fish in the world. The heaviest sunfish ever caught (and weighed on a reliable scale) was caught off the coast of Kamogawa, Japan, in 1996, was 8.9 feet long and weighed 2.3 metric tons (5,071 lbs.) The largest whale shark (cartilaginous fish) ever found was found in 1994 and weighed 36 metric tons (79,400lbs.) Source | Source
Do fishermen have dogs on their boats? It seems that some commercial fishermen do bring dogs with them on their boats. The Portuguese water dog was developed as a breed to work on commercial fishing boats—they guarded the boat, retrieved broken nets, swam between boats with messages, herded fish, and in the fog they would sit on the bow and bark to dogs on other ships like canine fog horns. Source | Source | Source
What’s the biggest shark called? The biggest living species of shark is the whale shark, which can be 60 feet long. The extinct megalodon shark may have reached 66 feet in length. The biggest shark at the Oregon Coast Aquarium is a Broadnose Sevengill Shark named Ms. Piggy. Source | Source
What is the smallest Shark? The dwarf lantern shark is 6.7 inches long; it’s small enough to hold in your hand. It also has photophores (light emitting organs) on its belly. This helps the tiny shark blend in with the light filtering through the water from above, making it invisible to predators swimming below. Source
How does a sea otter float so well? They have almost twice the lung capacity of other mammals their size. All that air makes them extra buoyant. ? Source
What do sea otters drink? Sea otters can actually drink sea water. They have extra large kidneys to get extra salt out of their bodies. Otters from Oregon Coast Aquarium often eat ice treats with crab legs inside. Source
How long do otters spend in the water? Sea otters spend most of the time in the water, even when they sleep. Sometimes at certain locations, sea otters come on land to sleep or rest. Sea otters often tangle themselves up in kelp while they sleep to anchor themselves in place. Source
Why do otters lick themselves? They are grooming their fur. Sea otters are the only marine mammal that doesn’t have blubber. Instead, sea otters have a high metabolism and the densest fur of any animal, as much as a million hairs per square inch. Sea otters spend at least 11% to 48% of their time grooming their fur to keep it clean, trap air bubbles between the hairs, and to spread waterproofing oils over their coats. See a video of sea otter grooming by clicking here. Source | Source
How do sea otters feel? Sea otters have the densest fur of any animal. Sea otter fur has about one million hairs per square inch. In comparison, there are only about 100,000 hairs on a human head – or an entire body. To fit so many hairs per inch, they have to be very fine. This makes for very soft fur. Unfortunately for the otters, this made them targets for fur hunters. In Oregon, they were hunted to extinction, so we rarely find sea otters on the Oregon Coast. Although they are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, they have yet to return to the Oregon coast.
Can you keep a sea lion as a pet? Can you own a sea otter? A seal? No, all are federally protected marine mammals. They take a lot of resources to care for in captivity. Also, wild animals don’t make good pets.
Why do sea otters fight? Male sea otters can be territorial and fight for control of an area and over female sea otters. This is what makes the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s all-male sea otter population so unique. Their habitat was designed to allow for lots of separate areas for the otters to claim if they want.
How does a starfish stick? Sea stars have tube feet that have tiny suction cups. The tube feet move by water pressure that is created when water enters through a small opening called a “sieve plate” on their back. Source
What species is the most recent discovery? New species of animals are discovered all the time, so that’s a tough question. The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University released its report for species discovered in 2009 (it takes a few years to go through the data on all the new species discovered in one year). The total number of newly discovered species in the year 2009 was: 19,233! So any answer I give to this question would be out of date pretty quickly. However, you can see which ten species the institute chose as the best discoveries in 2011 on their website. Or, you can check the Science Daily website for their most recent news of new species. Source
How much does the average sea turtle weigh? Sea turtles vary widely in their average weights. The smallest species of sea turtle is the Olive Ridley turtle. It weighs between 85 and 150 pounds and is only 2 – 2 ½ feet in length. Leatherbacks are the largest species of sea turtle. The weigh between 500-2000 pounds and can reach a size of 8 feet in length. Once the largest population of sea turtles, leatherback sea turtles are endangered due to loss of habitat where they lay their eggs, collection of eggs and meat by humans, and accidental catch in nets by fishermen.