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What to look for at the Birch Aquarium Sea Sponge

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Sea Sponge

Though extremely plant-like in appearance, sponges are actually one of the most primitive animals in the sea. They belong to a group called porifera. Most of us are familiar with the dried colorless varieties that populate the kitchens and bathrooms of the world. But in the ocean, live sponges can be found in an infinite variety of colors and shapes.

http animals howstuffworks com marine life sponge info htm

Most of them are relatively small, but some varieties can grow to over 6 feet in diameter. Sponges differ from all other marine invertebrates in that they have no true tissues or organs. Their structure is composed of simple aggregations of cells. The name porifera means pore bearer. The tissue of sponges encloses a vast network of chambers and canals that connect to the open pores on their surface. Sponges feed by drawing a current of water in through their pores, filtering out the nutrients, and then ejecting it out through an opening


Did you know? Sea stars have no brains and no blood. Their nervous system is spread through their arms and their “blood” is actually filtered sea water.Type: InvertebrateDiet: CarnivoreAverage lifespan in the wild: Up to 35 yearsSize: 4.7 to 9.4 in (12 to 24 cm)Weight: Up to 11 lbs (5 kg)

Sea Stars or Starfish





What do squid, mussels, and snails have in common? They’re all molluscs! Range Squid live throughout the world's oceans at all depths. Size Largest: The giant squid can reach a length of 18 m (60 ft) including tentacles, and weigh up to 900 kg (1980 lbs). Smallest: One species of sepiolid squid only reaches a length of about 1.8 cm (0.7 in), and weighs as little as 700 mg (0.02 oz). Feeding Habits Squid are carnivores; they eat fish, crustaceans, and smaller squid. Offspring Female squid lay thousands of eggs, which attach to foliage or to objects at the bottom of the ocean. Life Span The common squid lives about one to two years. Did You Know Some squid have bioluminescent organs that make them glow in the dark. When being chased, many squid squirt a dark liquid to distract their attacker. Giant squid have eyes the size of basketballs Squid swim faster than any other invertebrate. Biologists estimate that there are as many as 500 species of squid.


http animals howstuffworks com marine life squid2 htm
  • Squid Facts 
  •   The squid has a large head and a relatively large brain. Its body, stiffened by an interior cartilaginous skeleton, is spherical or cigar-shaped, with two lateral fins. Around the mouth are eight sucker-bearing arms and two contractile tentacles with spatulate tips; on the latter are four rows of suction cups encircled by rings of chitinous (horny) hooks. The contractile tentacles, longer than the rest, are used to seize the prey and pass it to the shorter arms, which hold it to be torn by strong jaws shaped like a parrot's beak. Squid can swim faster than any other invertebrate by rapidly expelling water from the mantle cavity through the ³funnel,² which can be turned to direct movement. Many deep-sea squid are bioluminescent. They shoot out a cloud of dark ink when pursued; one genus secretes luminescent ink


Just about any sample of seawater taken will be full of plankton. Plankton is made up of microscopic plants (phytoplankton) and animals (zooplankton). Zooplankton are mostly too small to be seen with the naked eye. They are made up of the larva of some sea creatures, and other adult animals that never grow above microscopic sizes. Zooplankton are the second step in most food chains. Zooplankton eat phytoplankton, and often other zooplankton as well. They are in turn eaten by very small animals.

http animals howstuffworks com marine life jellyfish2 htm

Jelly fish


jellyfish, common name for the free-swimming stage (see polyp and medusa), of certain invertebrate animals of the phylum Cnidaria (the coelenterates). The body of a jellyfish is shaped like a bell or umbrella, with a clear, jellylike material filling most of the space between the upper and lower surfaces. A mouth is located in the center of the undersurface and tentacles dangle from the bell margin. Many jellyfish are colored, with pink or orange internal structures visible through the colorless or delicately tinted bell, and all are exquisitely designed; they are among the most beautiful of animal types


Typically, jellyfish catch their prey with the aid of stinging cells located in the tentacles; many jellyfish can cause irritating or even dangerous stings to humans. Food is carried by the tentacles to the mouth, then is moved into the stomach and is distributed to the body through radial canals. Jellyfish move up and down by contracting and relaxing the bell, using muscles that circle the bell margin; they are carried horizontally by waves and currents. Jellyfish of the class Hydrozoa are small, ranging from 1/8 in. (0.32 cm) to several inches in diameter, and usually have four tentacles. They have several (often four) unbranched radial canals and simple sense organs.

Jellyfish continued

tide pools
Tide Pools


Cool video

News 8 video of the birch aquarium tide pool – click on watch video once you go to the link


  • Sand is basically loose accumulation of tiny pieces of rocks or minerals. Most grains of sand once formed parts of solid rocks that have crumbled away – either from chemical reactions with air and water or simply from the pounding of waves against a coastline.
  • Sand lies at the bottom of the sea and many lakes. Large amounts of sand wash up from shallow sea bottoms onto beaches and wind may pile up the sand in low hills called dunes
sand continued
Sand Continued
  • Sand may be composed of many types of material and is colored according to the mineral it is made of – black sand found in Hawaii consists of grains of basalt and basaltic glass, which are rocks formed from the hardened lava of volcanoes
sand continued15
Sand continued
  • The beach is an accumulation of sand, pebbles, or small rocks along a shoreline. Florida's beaches are washed up from shallow sea bottoms. Waves and currents give beaches a variety of shapes – waves along low coasts may build barrier beaches like Miami Beach. Barrier beaches run parallel to the coastline and are separated from the mainland by a sound or lagoon. Spits and hooks stretch out into the water in the shape of a finger or hook. Sedimentary capes, like Cape Canaveral, also extend into the water but are broader than spits and hooks.
  • http://goflorida.about.com/od/beache1/a/bch_sand.htm

Kelp forests grow along rocky coastlines in depths of 18 to 90 feet (6 to 30 meters). Kelps are types of brown algae, which hold on to the rocky bottom with root-like structures called holdfasts. From these holdfasts, long streamers of kelp grow up toward the surface, with gas bladders at each leaf to keep the plant upright, such as on the Giant Perennial Kelp. Bull Kelp has a hollow stem and a single large gas bladder near the water's surface from which streamers grow.

  • The Kelp Forest - click on link to learn more
The Herring Gull is the quintessential basic "seagull," with no distinctive characters that immediately set it apart from other gull species. The characteristic gull of the North Atlantic, it can be found across much of North America.


Medium to large gull.

Head and underparts white.

Back light gray.

Wingtips black with white spots.

Bill yellow with red spot near tip of lower mandible.

Size: 56-66 cm (22-26 in)

Wingspan: 137-146 cm (54-57 in)

Weight: 800-1250 g (28.24-44.13 ounces)


Click here for facts about Seagull