Subject: Adaptations for marine animals

Bete Jones (bjones@cats.ucsc.edu)
Wed, 17 Nov 1999 17:49:32 -0800

At 08:32 PM 11/16/99 EST, you wrote:
>Dear Marine Science expert,
>I have been assigned an assignment to write an e-mail to a scientist of my 
>choice regarding any topic in science.  It was assigned for my science
class. 
> I was wondering how life froms can survive at the depths that some of the 
>marine animals live at because of the pressure down that far and because it 
>is so cold?  If you could send me the answer that would be great.  My e-mail 
>address is KylieLynn@aol.com. Thank you.
>Sincerely,
>Kirsten
>

Dear Kirsten,

Marine animals that are warm-blooded have adapted to the cold and pressure
in different ways.  For example, some marine mammals (whales, dolphins,
seals, and sea lions) have a blubber layer that protects them from the cold
water.  Other marine mammals such as sea otters have thick fur that creates
a layer of air between the water and the animal's skin to keep them from
getting cold.  Marine birds also have this adaptation.

Marine animals that dive deep have adapted to the pressure by having very
compressable gas spaces and a flexible skeleton that can collapse easily at
depth.  Scientists are still baffled by the dive patterns of the elephant
seal - can repeatedly dive to 4000 ft. for hours at a time, without staying
at the surface much.  We are unsure how the animal can withstand such
frequent changes in pressure and not get "the bends" like scuba divers do
when nitrogen from depth accumulates in the blood stream.

I hope I have answered your question.

Cheers,
Bete Jones