Imagine a fish with a suction cup on the top of its head – that’s basically what a sharksucker, or remora, is. This fish isn’t a very strong swimmer, so to get around it hitches a ride with a shark, large fish, whale, sea turtle, stingray, or even a ship.
As an added perk, the sharksucker gets to munch scraps from its host’s meals, in addition to the small fish it catches itself. The shark neither suffers nor benefits from its relationship with the sharksucker (tweet us with the term for this type of relationship, and you could win a cool tote bag!)
Sharksuckers are found throughout warm waters, either attached to a host or swimming freely over corals, where they help keep reef fish clean. These fish can grow up to about a yard long.
Some fishermen have developed a clever use for sharksuckers: they tie line around the fish’s tail, then release it. The sharksucker looks for an animal to attach itself to, then the fisherman reels the pair back in.
Otherwise, sharksuckers are not popular targets for fishermen. In fact, the main risk they face is shrinking populations of sharks and other large marine animals to host them.
You can learn more about sharksuckers from Oceana’s marine wildlife encyclopedia.
We’re down to the last sea turtle in our trivia series, and it’s the least understood species of all – the flatback.
Flatback sea turtles nest only in Australia, and as a result of their limited range they are are poorly understood and at serious risk. Fortunately, Australia is working hard to protect large portions of the flatback’s habitat.
In addition to their namesake flat shells, flatbacks can be recognized by their olive-grey tops and yellow bellies. These turtles are known to float on the surface of the ocean, sunning their shells, often with birds on their backs. Flatbacks eat primarily fish, mollusks, and sea squirts.
Flatback turtles are caught accidentally in fishing nets, and they made up the majority of turtle bycatch in the Northern Prawn Fishery until turtle excluder devices – i.e. escape hatches -- were introduced. Other threats to flatbacks include coastal pollution and habitat degradation.
Oceana’s sea turtle campaign focuses on preventing sea turtle bycatch, protecting habitat, and promoting legislation that keeps turtles safe. You can learn more about flatback sea turtles from Oceana’s marine wildlife encyclopedia.
If you can tweet us the name of every type of sea turtle, you could win a tote bag. That’s it for our sea turtle themed trivia! We’ll be back next week with more fun facts about other ocean animals.
The adult hawksbill sea turtle lives in shallow warm water in coral reefs and mangrove areas around the globe.
This type of turtle is named for its beak-shaped mouth, which it uses to pry food out of nooks in a reef (tweet us their favorite food and you could win a prize!)—they also have two claws on each front flipper.
Like other sea turtles, hawksbills lay their eggs on sandy beaches, cover the clutch, and then head back to the ocean. When the eggs hatch, baby hawksbills make their way to the ocean. They can’t dive as well as other types of turtles, though, so they typically eat seaweed closer to the surface as they grow up. Less than one in 1000 hawksbill eggs will survive to adulthood.
Hawksbill sea turtles suffer the consequences of beaches that are no longer safe for nesting, unsafe fishing equipment, and struggling reefs, but they are also hunted by humans, particularly for their shells, which are the chief source of tortoiseshell. International law prohibits trading hawksbill shells.
Oceana’s sea turtle campaign focuses on preventing sea turtle bycatch, protecting habitat, and promoting legislation that keeps turtles safe. You can learn more about hawksbill sea turtles from Oceana’s marine wildlife encyclopedia.
Green sea turtles are the most common type of marine turtle in tropical and subtropical waters (How many countries do they nest in? It’s this week’s trivia question on Twitter, so answer now to win!)
Green sea turtles begin their lives on sandy beaches. Every year, females return to the beaches where they themselves were born to leave their eggs buried in the sand. After six or eight weeks, the hatchlings use their egg tooth, which later falls out, to break out of the shell. All of the eggs in a clutch hatch at the same time, and the hatchlings make their way together to the ocean.
This hatching process means that young green sea turtles are often eaten by predators like ghost crabs, gulls, sharks, and dolphins. Those that survive live in the deep ocean for a few years and then move to shallower waters along coastlines and reefs. Young green sea turtles eat animals like jellyfish, crabs, and snails, but adults, unlike most types of sea turtles, eat only plants.
Green sea turtles in Florida and the Pacific side of Mexico are considered endangered by the IUCN; the other global populations are classified as threatened. One of the biggest threats to green sea turtles is accidental capture in fishing gear, also known as bycatch. Oceana’s sea turtle campaign focuses on preventing sea turtle bycatch and protecting habitat.
You can learn more about green sea turtles -- and hundreds of other marine animals -- from Oceana’s marine wildlife encyclopedia.