Type: Process Essays
Sample donated: Janet Nguyen
Last updated: June 19, 2019
Superheroes of the SeaJellyfish: Fun Fact: Jellyfish don’t have brains.Jellyfish are a common Cnidarian, and they have a superpower that not many other organisms have: a powerful, painful sting. But how does this superpower work?Behind the Sting:”Jellyfish have special cells along their tentacles called cnidocytes”, Emily Frost says in her article about jellyfish. Cnidocytes contain harpoon like structures full of venom called nematocysts. They are triggered by touch.
According to Emily Frost, these nematocysts activate in less than the time it takes you to blink an eye, and penetrate the target, injecting the venom. When you swim at the beach, beware of jellyfish, as you may feel a soft touch somewhere on your body, followed by intense pain. Many symptoms of a jellyfish sting include pain, redness, blistering, and in some cases, such as some types of Box jellyfish, death.Turritopsis Dohrnii: The immortal jellyfishTurritopsis Dohrnii, also known as the immortal jellyfish, is a species of tiny jellyfish that has the ability of immortality. The life cycle of this hydrozoan has a similar pattern to other jellyfish, but the main difference is the fact that it has the ability to revert its cells back into an earlier stage, which I will describe later. A specimen of Turritopsis Dohrnii starts its life cycle as a planula, a free-swimming larvae. When this planula settles down, it attaches to the seafloor and forms a colony of polyps, cylindrical and stalklike structures similar to many types of coral. After this, when this phase is complete, immature jellyfish separate from the mature corals, a process known as budding.
These jellyfish mature into adult jellyfish, or medusae. When a medusae has a problem with the environment, gets old, or becomes debilitated (sick or weak), it can revert its cells back into an earlier stage through a process known as cell transdifferentiation. In this process, new cells with new purposes are made from old cells. There are imperfections to the immortality of Turritopsis Dohrnii, though, as many immortal jellyfish die in nature before they use cell transdifferentiation to revert their cells back into the polyp stage.Octopus: Fun Fact: Their order classification, Cephalopoda, literally means “Head feet.
” The octopus is an amazing aquatic mollusk. Even though octopuses (or octopuses) do not have an agreed plural noun, they do have the ability to use tools, learn through observation, and solve puzzles. Behind this is an amazing secret: their large brain. But, what is different about these amazing tentacled sea creature’s brains? The answer has to do with the fact that octopuses do not have all of their neurons centralized in the brain, like many other intelligent animals do. According to a Ted Ed video, neurons of an octopus can be found spread out in an interconnected network of ganglia, structures containing nerve cells. Ganglia in an octopus can be found in three basic structures: the brain, which contains 10% of the octopus’s 500 million neurons, the two huge optic lobes, which contain about 30%, and the tentacles, which contain the rest (Why is the Octopus Brain so Extraordinary, Ted Ed).
They also explain that octopuses also move and think differently. For example, when an octopus wants to grab something, instead of the brain activating the appropriate muscles to grab the apple, like we do, the brain has a list of behavioral responses, and when it sees food, it activates one of those responses, signalling the tentacles to move and grab the food. When a tentacle touches the food, it sends a signal all the way up to the base of the tentacle, while another signal is sent out from the base of the tentacle. These two signals meet at the middle of the it, signalling the tentacle to bend there in order to eat the food.
The Blue Ringed Octopus: Fun Fact: A Blue Ringed Octopus’ venom is 1000 times more powerful than cyanide.The blue ringed octopus is a small species of octopus, usually the size of a golf ball. This species is generally shy and not belligerent, as it tends to hide in crevices and shells when not searching for food or mates. Despite its lack of aggressiveness, this marine species packs a powerful punch. “Blue Ringed Octopuses produce a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin” (Shicks, Erin). If you encounter a Blue Ringed Octopus and it bites you, which it will usually only do if you handle or corner it, you will not feel any pain at first, as the bite is painless.
According to an article by Erin Shicks, first, the venom blocks nerve signals, which will lead to muscle numbness. Some of the other symptoms that she lists include nausea, vision loss or blindness, and the loss of senses and motor skills. All of this will eventually lead to muscle paralysis, and this causes respiratory arrest.Dolphins: Even though the many species of dolphins all have extraordinary brains, one of the most amazing aspects of dolphins is the way they communicate, both vocally and non-vocally. First, dolphins have the ability to confabulate with a system of vocal sounds. According to the Dolphin Communication Project, dolphins have the ability to produce both pure tones and pulsed sounds. Pure tones that dolphins can produce include whistles, chirps, and screams.
Pulsed sounds, which some dolphin species can only communicate with, include clicks, which occur rapidly and at intervals. Even though dolphin communication has just begun to be unscrambled by scientists, they have been able to figure out basic situations in which dolphins have used them. The Dolphin Communication Project says that whistles tend to be used in social situations, and when dolphins feel emotions.
Clicks can be used as echolocation, and a certain series of clicks made by bottlenose dolphins is thought to mean: “let’s play”! Dolphins also have the ability to communicate non-vocally. They use many different body signals in order to communicate. Some of these body semaphores include breaching and tail slapping. Here is a list of body signals given by the Dolphin Communication Project and what dolphins tend to use them for:Tail Slaps: The tail slap is a common dolphin behavior in which a dolphin slaps its tail against the water, creating a large booming sound. Although this body signal can be used as a sign of aggression, it can also be used as a signal for dolphins far away, or a shout of “its time to leave this area”! This body signal may also be used to stun fish with the loud sound.Jaw Slaps: Dolphins have the capability of being able to slap their jaws together, making a loud sound. This body signal is usually a sign of aggression.
Breaching: Breaching can create a very large sound, as breaching is when part or all of the dolphin’s body leaves and then re-enters the water. It can be used for a variety of reasons, but at night, when it is thought to be used the most, scientists think that dolphins use breaching simply for the purpose of making noise.Bubbles: A common non-vocal signal used by dolphins involves blowing bubble streams or bubble clouds. This can create a distinctive noise that can be heard over long distances. Making bubbles is also a visual signal.Part 2: Pollution in the ocean and how it affects the “superheroes of the sea.”Introduction: The quality of the 97% of water on Earth that resides in the oceans is going through constant defilement, as more and more trash is dumped into the oceans.
In fact, according to NOAA, 80% of the total amount of the pollution in the oceans comes from sources on land. Whether or not it comes from plastic bags, that take 1,000 years to decompose, or agricultural fertilizer being spread into oceans from a eroded soil on a recently plowed spot of land, the oceans are no longer trash free, and this has a clear effect on marine life, including the “superheroes of the sea” that I have explained earlier. It also can form garbage patches in the oceans, huge clumps of marine debris in.Garbage Patches: Garbage patches consist of clumps of marine debris mostly made up of plastic. Plastic is not biodegradable. Instead of degrading, the plastic breaks into tinier and tinier pieces, called microplastics.
Microplastics make the water have an appearance similar to a cloudy soup. One example of a garbage patch is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is technically two garbage patches swirling around a vertex separately. Along with the microplastics, garbage patches also consist of larger plastics, from toy soldiers to toothbrushes. Some of these plastics are dumped from a ship by accident, and some come from the land. These garbage patches can hurt the marine ecosystem in many ways, of which I will name three. First of all, the plastics and other materials can block light from shining through, limiting plankton growth, and in turn, affecting the entire food chain.
Second of all, debris such as nets can snag passing marine life, a process called “ghost fishing.” Third of all, plastics be doppelgangers for some creatures favorite food, and feel or have an appearance similar to some marine creatures’ favorite foods.Jellyfish:Even though the effects that a polluted ocean have on marine creatures, the opposite is true for jellyfish. Jellyfish thrive in stressed areas of water, as they have the ability to survive high temperatures and acidic water. A problem has been produced by this, though, as jellyfish blooms and swarms have become more common.
Jellyfish are extraordinary eaters, and certain species of jellyfish can completely wipe out another species in an area.Octopuses: Noise pollution in the ocean has hurt octopuses, along with many of its fellow cephalopods. A recent study shows that octopuses and similar species go through severe trauma after hearing a low frequency sound for a long period of time. Some of the sample organisms were even killed by the sounds. Due to the increase in offshore drilling, cargo ship transportation, and other noise polluting offshore human activities, these creatures may be dying in massive numbers in the near future, as these activities become closer to areas where octopuses and other species live.Dolphins:Many things can harm dolphins in their natural habitat, even with their amazing brains and communication systems.
Their abilities are useless against chemical spills, massive noises used to locate oil and gas, and an increase in boat traffic. Things like these can strand them on coastlines, and even kill them in extreme cases. Dolphins, along with whales, can also get tangled in plastic pollution, even mistaking the plastic with its favorite food by accident and eating it.Conclusion:In conclusion, many marine species can really be identified as “heroes” based on their abilities, but even they can have trouble (or cause trouble) from the activities that humans undertake that the oceans polluted.