Ocean Conservancy’s Dennis Takahashi-Kelso and Board Member Philippe Cousteau tour Bay Jimmy, LA. and the surrounding marsh affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
This post originally appeared on CNN.com from Ocean Conservancy Board Member Philippe Cousteau. Explorer, social entrepreneur and environmental advocate, Philippe Cousteau is a special correspondent for CNN International. He is also the co-founder and president of the leading environmental education nonprofit EarthEcho International.
My grandfather Jacques Cousteau and my father Philippe dedicated their lives to revealing the ocean’s wonders and helping us understand our connection to this vast expanse of water. Their work inspired generations and filled people with awe.
Times have changed and so have circumstances and perceptions about the ocean. In recent years, the focus has been on the very serious challenges the ocean faces and the impact these challenges are already having on our daily lives.
An ocean sunfish, or mola mola. Credit: leonardo4it's flickr stream
TRUE: Electric eels are actually fish that breathe by gulping air from the surface.
TRUE: Some fish start their lives as males but grow into females.
FALSE: Despite their unusual shape, sunfish are some of the sea’s strongest swimmers
Sunfish, or molas, do not have a swim bladder and steer themselves by squirting a jet of water out of their mouth or gills. For this reason, sunfish maneuver poorly and are not strong swimmers. Have you ever seen a sunfish before? Where did you see it? And who’s surprised to learn that electric eels aren’t actually eels?
TRUE: Ancient Greek dentists used the venom from the stingray’s spine as anesthetic.
TRUE: Doctors once used Asian carp as a test for pregnancy.
FALSE: Amazon explorers took a medicine derived from coral to fight off malaria.
TRUE: One of the rarest sharks is called a megamouth shark. TRUE: Some sharks can increase their size by swallowing large amounts of water. FALSE: Like dolphins, sharks do not have scales.
Sharks are covered with small, tooth-like scales called dermal denticles. Sharks feel smooth to the touch because their scales are designed to reduce drag. Megamouth sharks and swell sharks are both real animals! Megamouths sound scary, but they’re filter feeders and prefer plankton. Swell sharks, as their name implies, can swell up to twice their normal body size just by swallowing water. What’s your favorite shark?