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The Ocean Reporter's
Sand & Surf
Encyclopedia File

SCARAB The largest boat in the lifeguard fleet. A speedy, sturdy boat used for rescuing victims far offshore and patrolling the ocean.

SEAL (also called SEA LION/Pinnipedia) Any carnivorous marine mammal of this order that have fins as feet. Sea Lions (Eumetopias Jubata) are found in the North Pacific Ocean. Adult males can get grow up to 12 feet long (3.5m) and get to the maximum weight of 2400 pounds (1100kg). The females are much smaller, weighing up to 770 pounds (350kg). The Southern Sea Lion (Otaria Byronia) is a smaller species and is found on the coasts of South America. The California Sea Lion (Zalophus) is found off the California coast.

There are various forms of Seals including Fur Seals, Hair Seals, Elephant Seals, Sea Lions and Leopard Seals. They are widely distributed throughout the marine regions of firgid and temperate zones. Only Monk Seals (Monachus) are tropical. There are three families the Eared Seals, the Walrus (not covered here) and True Seals. Seals have become almost perfectly adapted to life in the water. The breed on shore or on ice floats as well as to rear their young. They eat fish, shellfish and other marine animals.

EARED SEALS Two groups of Sea Lions and Fur Seals. Have long, flexible necks and small external ears. Hind flippers that can be turned forward, enabling them to support the body and use all four limbs for land travel.

FUR SEALS (Arctocephaus of the Southern Hemisphere/Callorhinus of the North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea). They resemble Sea Lions anatomically but differ in having a rich, silky undercoat of fur.

TRUE SEALS (Phocidae/19 species) Lack external ears and have shorter, inflexible necks, undeveloped forelimbs. Their forelimbs bear claws used for crawling up rocks and Ice floes. They are better adapted to life in water. they get along on land by wiggling and hunching their entire bodies. The male or bull matures at 7 years. It is 6 feet long (2m) and weighs 550 pounds (250kg). Female or cow matures in 3 years. Its average weight is 115 pounds (52kg). Large, older bulls have harems of as many as 40 cows and battle off rival males until defeated. Immature and bachelor males congregate on beaches removed from the breeding grounds. As winter approaches, the migrate southward to latitudes of Baja, California. They are hunted for their highly prized hides, which is made into leather.

SEA LEVEL The level of the surface of the sea, midway beween the levels of high and low water caused by tidal flucuations. This standard value is generally used to measure relative differences in height of georaphical featured above sea level and depth below sea level. The unit of pressue called the atmosphere, based on air pressure at mean sea level is expressed as 29.92126 in. (760 torrs or 760mm) of mercury or 14.69595 lb per sq. in. (1033.227g per sq. cm).

SEA LION (Eumetopias Jubata) Please see SEAL.

SEA URCHIN (Enchinoderm; class Echinoidea) There are 700 species of Sea Urchins. They have rigid, spherical shell or test made up closely fitting bony plates. They move about by means of short to long, moveable spines. The mouth is at the opposite end of the sphere from the anus. Sea Urchins have chewing apparatus called aristotle's lantern with 5 jaws and accesory bony plates. They feed on various organic matter including plants, small animals and waste material.

Some species are used as food in the far east and South America. A number of species are venomous to humans. Scattered over the surface of the rest are microscopic, buttonlike bodies called sphaerida, which are thought to be organs of balance. Primitive Sea Urchins (Cidaroicla) are without gills around the mouth. Those with gills are the order of Centrechinoida. Between the spines are small pincer-like organs called pedicellariae used for cleaning and defense. 

SEA WEED (also called ALGAE) The larger, multice cellular forms of Algae that live in fresh and salt water mainly along marine coast lines. There are three divisions of Sea Weed, which are Brown Algae (Phaeophyta) as Kelps, Red Algae (Rhoclophytha) as Irish Moss and Green Algae (Chlorophyta) as Sea Lettuces. All are seen at low tide along rocky shores of northern seas.

Sea Weed are considered primitive plants without the true stems, leaves, roots or vascular systems of higher plants. They anchor themselves to sold objects by holdfast and absorb nutrients directly from the water, manufacturing their food by photosynthesis. Sea Weeds abound in shallow waters feom the didtide line down to depths of 165 feet (50m). Along damp, cold water shores, they are able to withstand several hours of exposure to the sun, and they cover rocks high into the intertidal zone.

SELF DEFENSE Defense of one's person or property from threatened violence or injury by the exercise of force. A person may practice self-defense against assault or unlawful attack by the use of force, provided the person uses no more force than is necessary to accomplish that result. It should not be carried to the point of taking life when it is other wise possible to retreat safely from the assailant.

SHARK (Selachimorpha) Sharks are versatile and keen-sensed fish, many species are able to hunt and eat nearly all larger marine animals in both shallow and deep seas. They vary in behavior and size. The White Shark (Rhinodon Typus) is the largest Shark as well as the largest fish in the sea, measuring 49 feet in length (15m). Sharks are mainly marine fish found in all seas. They are abundant in both tropical and subtropical waters. Many species migrate up rivers. They are best known as aggressivve carnivores that even attack members of their own species.

Most are gray in color and have leathery skin covered with small sharp pointed scales that do not enlarge with the growth of the animal. The tail is asymmetrical with the verebral column extended into the upper lobe. Many species have general rows of sharp teeth embedded in fibrous membranes instead of in the jawbones. These teeth are frequently lost in the flesh of prey and are quickly replaced by other teeth that shift into position. Fins and tails are rigid instead of erectile. As hard as it is to believe, the dorsal fins rarely protrude above water when the Sharks are close to the surface. Sharks do not have swim bladders. When they are motionless, they sink to the bottom. They have strong digestive enzymes that enables them to absorb a great diversity of foods. Sharks are scavengers and will eat anything including fish, carrion, garbage and other waste from passenger and fishing ships. They also eat animals including seals, turtles, birds, whales, crabs and a wide range of fish. Objects have been found in the stomachs of many. 

Sharks produce well-developed offspring, numbering at most, 100 to a litter. The Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo Cuvieri) bears 2 young at a time. The male inserts one of its claspers located as an extention of the pelvic fins into the female. Most Sharks hatch the eggs within the female and bearing live young. Some Sharks lay their eggs externally and often encase them in leathery shells with tendrils that anchor them to rocks or weeds.

At birth, young Sharks are not cute, helpless creatures. The young of some larger species are more than 3 feet long (1m). They are swift capable swimmers that feed on the same prey as adults. Young are born in protected areas away from males. Sharks commonly fast for long periods during the breeding season, living on the vast reserves of lipids stored in livers preventing them from cannibalizing their young and one another.

Sharks have an acute sense of smell enabling them to detect minute substances, such as blood in the water and trace them to their source. Vision is less acute and allows it to catch dim movements of shadow and light in the dark waters as it approaches its prey. They are sensitive to sounds of low frequency and have fine directional hearing. The Great White (Carcharodon Carcharias), The Hammerhead (Sphyrna), The Tiger Shark and the Blue Shark (Prionace) are most dangerous to humans.

They have purpose though. Sharks play an important ecological part in oceans. They clean up waste, prey on weaker or maimed members of populations, helping a species maintain its genetic strength. Shark meat sells at prices comparable to those for traditional table fish. The fins are used for soup, mainly in oriental countries for a long time. It is increasing ly featured in US market and is often comared to swordfish. They have also become the victims of a world-wide practice called finning that consists of removing the highly prized fins and throwing the shark back into the water to die.  

SQUID (Cephalopoda) A carnivorus mollusk that is classed with Cuttlefish and Octopus. The Squid has a large head housing a large brain. Its naked body, stiffened by an interior cartilaginous skeleton is spherical or cigar shaped with two lateral fins. It has eight sucker-bearing arms around the mouth as well as two contractile tentacles with spatulate tips. Four rows of suction cups encircleed by rings of horny hooks. The contractile tentacles are longer than the rest are used to seize its prey and pass it to the shorter arms which hold it to be torn by strong jaws shaped like a parrot's beak.

Squids swim faster than any other invertebrate by rapidly expelling water from the mantle cavity through the funnel which can be turned to determine the direction of movement. Many deep sea Squid are bioluminescent. They shoot out a cloud of dark ink when pursued. One genus of Squid (Heteroteuthis) secretes luminescent ink.

They vary in size from 12-18 inches long to the size of the Giant Squid at least 60 feet long (18m). It is the largest invertebrate living at depths of 985-1970 feet (300-600 m) where it is the prey of Sperm Whales.

For reproduction, in the male, one of its smaller arms is modified for planting a packet of sperm in the females oviduct. The sperm is released as the eggs are produced. The females fasten their eggs to seaweed or to the ocean bottom by a viscous filament. The eggs of Deep Water Squid are free-floating.

STINGRAY (also called RAY/Dasyntidae/superorder Batidoidimorphia) A common name for Rays. They have broad, flattened pectorial fins that almost give them a diamond shape appearance. Some species have fins more than 5 feet wide (1.5m). It's long, finless whiplike tail has one or more large, sharp sometimes barbed spines at it's base that are assoiciated with poison glands and can inflict severe wounds. They are the most common cause of fish stings.

Ventral gills are supplied with water by paired spiracles behind the dorsal eyes. The mouth, also ventral has small blunt teeth for feeding on shellfish. They are found in warm shallow water, but may enter more temperate waters in warm seasons. The female carries eggs that hatch at the time of birth.

Another Ray family (Potamotrygonidae) contains poisonous species known as Freshwater Stingrays. They are found in lakes and rivers of South America and Western Africa.

SURF BOARD A long, narrow board used for the sport of surfing.

SWITCHBOARD A well equipped unit that helps in relaying emergency messages to lifeguards.


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