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A recent analysis suggests that the oceans may contain between 700,000 and 1 million animal species! Of course, in nature, every single animal is important but some of them are particularly remarkable… some of them are world champions!!!

Here are some of the most incredible records:

Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

The largest and heaviest animal on Earth is the Blue Whale. Not only is it the biggest animal living on the planet, but it is also the biggest animal that has ever lived (bigger than any dinosaur!). It measures up to 30 meters long, and weighs in at an incredible 180 tonnes. Its heart is the size of a small car, its aorta is big enough for a human to crawl through, and its tongue weights as much as an elephant!!!

Blue Whale by Laureline Formanek
Blue Whale by Laureline Formanek

Deep-sea Octopus (Graneledone boreopacifica)

This octopus recently set a new record for having the longest brooding period of any animal. Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (USA) observed a female octopus protecting and cleaning her eggs for an astonishing 4.5 years! The most incredible thing about this record is that the mother octopus does not feed for the entire time she broods her eggs.  Most female octopuses will lay only one set of eggs and will die soon after the eggs hatch.

Frilled Shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus)

Research suggests that the Frilled Shark takes the world record for the longest gestation period. Frilled sharks are ovoviviparous – this means that the embryos develop inside eggs which remain in the mother’s uterus until they are ready to hatch. In this species, litter sizes vary from 2 to 15, though not all young will survive. The slow-growing Frilled Shark embryos take up to 3.5 years to fully develop!

Sperm Whale (Physeter microcephalus)

The Sperm Whale has the largest brain of any modern or extinct animal on Earth. Its average weight is 7.8 kilograms (more than five times heavier than a human brain) and it has a volume of about 8000 cm3. However, a larger brain doesn’t always mean a smarter animal. A better measure of intelligence is something called the encephalization quotient, which is the ratio between the actual brain mass an animal possesses and the brain mass we expect it to possess based on the animal’s overall size. Although very intelligent, the Sperm Whale has a lower encephalization quotient than many other whale and dolphin species. It is also lower than that of apes, and much lower than that of humans’.

Sperm Whale by Laureline Formanek
Sperm Whale by Laureline Formanek

Mantis Shrimps (Order Stomatopoda)

Mantis Shrimps hold the world record for the most complex visual system. They have up to 16 different photoreceptors (humans have only two!) and can see UV, visible and polarized light. They are the only animals known to detect circularly polarized light, which is when the wave component of light rotates in a circular motion. They also can perceive depth with only one eye and move each eye independently.

Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias)

The Great White Shark has the most teeth of any animal on the planet. It has up to 50 teeth in its mouth at any one time; like many other sharks, it has rows of serrated teeth behind the main ones, ready to replace any that break. A single shark’s tooth generally only lasts for about a week before falling out and being replaced. In its lifetime, a Great White Shark will go through 30,000-50,000 teeth.

Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)

The animal with the densest fur on Earth is the Sea Otter. Unlike most other marine mammals, the Sea Otter has no blubber (a thick layer of fat used for insulation), and relies on its exceptionally thick fur to keep warm. Its fur has up to 150,000 strands of hair per cubic centimeter. It consists of long, waterproof guard hairs and short underfur. The guard hairs keep the dense underfur dry. That way, cold water is kept totally away from the skin and heat loss by conduction is limited. The fur is thick year-round, as it is shed and replaced gradually rather than in a distinct molting season.

Sea Otter by Laureline Formanek
Sea Otter by Laureline Formanek

Bowhead Whale (Balaena mysticetus)

The Bowhead Whale holds the world record for the thickest blubber – up to 50 centimeters! This whale spends its entire life in Arctic and sub-Arctic waters, unlike the other baleen whales that migrate to low latitude waters to reproduce and give birth. Its exceptionally thick blubber layer protects it from the cold waters year-round.

Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus)

The best actor award goes to… the Mimic Octopus! This octopus has the ability to take on the appearance and behavior of a recorded 15 different species, making it the ultimate trickster of the Animal Kingdom. Like several other species of octopi, the Mimic Octopus can change its color and texture to match its surroundings; however, what truly sets it apart is just how good an actor it really is when trying to avoid being eaten and when luring in potential prey. By changing its color, appearance, and the way it swims, a Mimic Octopus can, for example, take on the appearance of a sea snake, lionfish, jellyfish, flounder, stingray, or shellfish, among others.

The best thing about the oceans is that there are so many species yet to be discovered. It is estimated that one to two thirds of all marine species remain unknown which gives us a good chance of discovering new amazing world record breakers in the future!!

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