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Marine Life Vocabulary

Learn some basic terms about marine life.
a data set by NatureLover
created June 14, 2017
TermDefinitionExampleExample Image
AlgaePhotosynthetic organisms that range from microscopic to large (such as seaweed).Gutweed
BarnacleSessile crustaceans, they typically live in shallow and tidal waters. They have appendages that draw plankton into their hard outer shells for consumption.Acorn Barnacle
Barrier ReefA coral reef separated from the shore by a channel of deep water. Runs parallel to the shore.Great Barrier Reef
BivalveA class of mollusks whose bodies are enclosed by a shell with two hinged parts.Oyster
CephalopodsA class of mollusks which have a prominent head and a set of arms or tentacles. Most have the ability to squirt ink.Giant Squid
CetaceansA group of aquatic mammals consisting of whales, dolphins, and porpoises. They are carnivorous and have fins.Humpback whale
Cold SeepsAn area on the ocean floor where hydrocarbon-rich fluid seeps. Despite its name, these areas are not colder than the surrounding water.
Continental ShelfPart of the crust, this is the area of seabed where the ocean is relatively shallow compared to the open ocean.
CoralPolyp structure (cylindrical shape with one open end, a mouth with a ring of tentacles) differing from sea anemones by the creation of a mineral skeleton.Staghorn Coral
Coral ReefThe most diverse marine ecosystem. Made of colonies of coral polyps and home to a vast variety of marine life.Apo Reef
CrustaceansMostly aquatic animals, this subphylum includes animals with an exoskeleton which molts with growth.Ghost Crab
CurrentContinuous, directed movement of ocean water.Gulf Stream
Ebb TidePeriod between low and high tides when the water pulls away from the land.
Euphotic ZoneThe layer of ocean that receives the most sunlight, the uppermost 80 meters (roughly). Sufficient sunlight for photosynthesis.
FishAquatic, vertebrate animals which have gills and lack traditional limbs.Clownfish
Hydrothermal VentsA fissure in the earth's surface through which seawater circulates and issues back into the ocean heated.
Intertidal ZoneAlso known as the littoral zone, it is the area that is exposed at low tide and below water at high tide.
Kelp ForestFormed in shallow water by densely growing kelp (a large form of brown algae).
MolluskThe largest marine phylum, it is comprised of invertebrates such as gastropods, cephalopods, and bivalves.Spotted Thorn Drupe (Snail)
Neap TideSeven days after a spring tide, the sun and moon are at right angles to each other, producing more moderate tides (high tides are a little lower and low tides are a little higher).
Oceanic TrenchDepressions in the seafloor, often the deepest parts of the ocean. Caused by tectonic plate action.Mariana Trench
PinnipedClade of carnivorous, semiaquatic, fin-footed mammals commonly called seals.Sea Lion
PlanktonImportant food source for many aquatic life forms, this term can be used to describe bacteria, archaea, algae, protozoa and others. One major characteristic is that they are unable to swim against a current.Rotifer
ReefA ridge of rock, coral, or sand lying beneath (or just above) the water's surface.Pamalican Island Reef
SalinityMeasure of salt dissolved in a body of water.Las Salinas in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico has a high salinity.
SchoolA group of fish swimming in the same direction in a coordinated manner.Bluestripe Snapper swimming in a coordinated group.
SeamountsUnderwater mountain usually caused by volcanic activity.Emperor Seamounts
SireniansAquatic, herbivorous mammals, known as sea cows.West African Manatee
Spring TideDuring the new and full moon (twice a month regardless of season) there is added gravitation pull, which creates higher high tides and lower low tides.
Tide PoolRocky pools that are filled with sea water (may be covered at high tide).Kapoho Tide Pools
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