Summer on the Shore: What’s the difference between sharks and dolphins?

bottlenose-dolphinThousands of people flock to the beaches for summer vacation, and it is a thrill to spot a shark or a dolphin from the sand. It can be tricky to determine which is which but here are a few similarities, differences, and fun facts about these sea creatures.

When a fin rises above the waves, note the angle.

A dolphin has a curved dorsal fin and a horizontal tail. They propel themselves up and down through the water taking in oxygen as they crest waves before disappearing below the water’s surface.

Sharks have a more triangular dorsal fin. Their tails are vertical, and it moves from side to side smoothly propelling the shark through the water.

thresher-sharkSince a shark is a fish they breathe under the water, but beware if a shark launches itself into the air, dinner is likely in its sights. Great White sharks have been caught on video chasing seals and other fast movers high into the air, although this is not a common sight to see from the beach.

A small number of bottlenose dolphins chase their food above water in a coordinated event called strand feeding. At low tide, a group of dolphins circles a school of fish until they propel themselves onto the beach and feed on the delicious fish and shrimp. Visitors to the South Carolina or Georgia coast may be lucky enough to see this event, but dolphins are very smart creatures and don’t often strand feed while people are around.

Here are a few books where you can learn more about sharks and dolphins!

Sharks and Dolphins:  A Compare and Contrast Book
SharksDolphinsSharks and dolphins both have torpedo-shaped bodies with fins on their backs. They slice through the water to grab their prey with sharp teeth. But despite their similarities, sharks and dolphins belong to different animal classes: one is a fish and gets oxygen from the water and the other is a mammal and gets oxygen from the air. Marine educator Kevin Kurtz guides early readers to compare and contrast these ocean predators through stunning photographs and simple, nonfiction text.

If a Dolphin Were a Fish
Dolphin_187Join Delfina the dolphin as she imagines that she becomes other sea animals: a fish, a sea turtle, a pelican, an octopus, a shark, even a manatee! The incredible morphing illustrations will have children laughing as they learn about the real differences between these ocean animals and their respective classes.

Shark Baby
SharkBaby_128“Who am I?” wonders Shark Baby. When his “mermaid’s purse” egg case is torn loose in a storm, he finds himself on a journey through different ocean habitats: kelp forests, coral reefs, and seagrass meadows. He learns what kind of shark he isn’t, but not what kind he is. He needs to find the “mermaid” to learn where he belongs, but the ocean is big and full of dangers. Will he find out who he is—and what he can do—in time?

Tricks or Treats!

Nature has a way of being cruel and being kind, here are a few fun facts where you can decide, if it is a trick or treat!

-Bats are the only mammals that can flyLittleBat_Pic5

-A flamingo can only eat when its head is upside down.

-If a kangaroo’s tail is lifted off the ground it is unable to hop. They use their tail for balance.

-A baby shark is ready to go fast when it is born, so that the mother shark doesn’t eat it.

-An owl can’t move its eyes, but it can turn its head 270 degrees.

cassowary-The cassowary is a beautiful bird and is predominately a vegetarian, but it can tear holes in flesh like Swiss cheese.

-The orca has no natural predator in the sea and they hunt in groups just like wolves do on land.

-Rhinos amble through the African Savanna and thickets of dense plants filled with ticks that attach to the rhinos and make them itch! The tick bird rides along while eating the tasty treat!

-The vampire squid is a creepy ocean creature that squirts glowing goo from its arms.

Find these facts and many more in Arbordale’s For Creative Minds sections! Take a look while you are eating your trick or treat loot!

Researchers make a glowing discovery in twilight zone sharks

There are challenges to living far beneath the ocean’s waves and researchers are looking into the glowing eyes of sharks that call this dark part of the ocean home. The smalleye pygmy shark, viper shark, velvet belly lantern shark, splendid lanternshark, and blackbelly lanternshark all call the twilight zone home and swim about 200-1,000 meters below the sea. With very little natural sunlight the animals at this depth rely on bioluminescence to help them survive.

By Gervais et Boulart (Les poissons Gervais, H.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Because humans are not adapted to travel to these depths easily, researchers are continually finding new ways in which the creatures in the twilight zone use bioluminescence. A recent study by Dr. Julien Claes of the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium has discovered differences in the structure of the eyes of these five sharks that help them adapt.

In the lantern shark, researchers found that the area in the upper eye orbit contained a translucent area. They believe this adaptation uses bioluminescence for camouflage allowing the shark to use counter-illumination, or the ability to match the light of its background. This method of camouflage is used by other animals including squid.

Further showing that deep-sea shark eyes are different, the scientists found a gap between the lens and the iris allowing more light to the retina. The sharks studied also had a higher rod density in their eyes when compared with other shark species. This allows for better temporal resolution and aids the shark in communication.

FCM_cookie-cutterMuch is unknown about life in the twilight zone, but researchers studying bioluminescence have found many special adaptations that animals have developed to live in this zone. “Every bioluminescent signal needs to reach a target photoreceptor to be ecologically efficient. Here, we clearly found evidence that the visual system of bioluminescent sharks has co-evolved with their light-producing capability, even though more work is needed to understand the full story,” said Dr. Claes.

Information for this article is from the following paper: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0104213

Citation: Claes JM, Partridge JC, Hart NS, Garza-Gisholt E, Ho H-C, et al. (2014) Photon Hunting in the Twilight Zone: Visual Features of Mesopelagic Bioluminescent Sharks. PLoS ONE 9(8): e104213. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104213

 

Do you want to learn more about bioluminescent creatures read A Day in the Deep by Kevin Kurtz, illustrated by Erin Hunter?

Also coming this fall to Arbordale Animal Eyes by Mary Holland explores eyes and adaptations of animals on land and in the water.

A Summer of Sharks!

When heading to the beach, the last thing I want to hear about is a shark close by, but it seems like sharks are taking over aquariums, the big screen, and bookshelves all across the country. Even in our office, we have all fallen in love with our newly released spring title Shark Baby by Ann Downer, illustrated by Shennen Bersani.SharkBaby_128

Shark Baby follows one little shark as he embarks on his ocean-wide journey to find out what kind of shark he is. This book includes other fun sea inhabitants such as various shark species, sea lions, an octopus, and a “mermaid?” Shark Baby will melt the heart of any reader regardless of their original feelings about sharks.

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An article from the Wall Street Journal recently reported the new trend in aquarium attractions, diving with sharks! Aquariums all across the globe are beginning their own diving programs including  Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, and South Korea. There are even a few aquariums in the United States where shark diving is offered such as Cleveland and Denver. The Georgia Aquarium offers divers a chance to swim with the biggest fish species in the world, the whale shark. This up close and personal encounter with sharks does have a few perks. The environment is more controlled, thus sharks are well-fed and used to the presence of divers. Also, it cuts down on the logistics of traveling to distant dive sites and guarantees a face to face meeting with these creatures. Although this seems like an exciting adventure, I don’t think I will be including it on my bucket list any time soon. You can read the full article by following this link:

http://blogs.wsj.com/scene/2013/06/05/swimming-safely-with-sharks/

If diving with sharks is too much for you, select cities are showing theIMAX 3D film Great White Shark, released May 24. The film supports conservation efforts for the Great White Shark and hopes to tell the “true” story about this often misunderstood creature. This film was three years in the making and takes viewers all over the world to different Great White hot spots including: Los Angeles, New Zealand, South Africa, and Guadalupe Island. Filmmakers hope to show their audiences that the Great White Shark is becoming an  endangered species, and that they are not monsters, rather they are just trying to fulfill their position at the top of the Ocean’s food chain. You can check out the trailer for the film using the following link:

http://greatwhiteshark3d.com/trailer/

shark

After looking at the shark craze that is taking over the summer, I still hope I don’t come face to face with a shark anytime soon. Shark Baby‘s illustrations are the closest I want to be to a shark. For the more courageous individuals, I definitely recommend checking out your nearest aquariums for shark exhibits, Great White Shark showings, or dives! Other suggested titles on this topic from Sylvan Dell Publishing: The Most Dangerous and Ocean Hide and Seek.

*Author: Ann Downer and Illustrator: Shennen Bersani just finished two book presentations and signings this past weekend in Cambridge, MA at Porter Square Books and in Mystic, CT at the Mystic Aquarium. Bersani will have another signing June 29 from 11-1pm in Center Harbor, NH at Bayswater Book Company.

A New Year A New Season

Welcome 2013, we are celebrating with the release of our seven new titles for Spring. Although it doesn’t feel like spring, it is right around the corner and we have new titles to share!

Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries by Jennifer Keats Curtis
AH-Sanctuaries_128What happens to exotic pets when owners realize they can no longer care for them but they can’t be returned to the wild? And what about big predators that get hurt or sick? This photographic journal takes readers “behind the scenes” at five nonprofit sanctuaries and rescue zoos, and one care farm, that have opened their doors and their hearts.

Balloon Trees by Danna Smith, illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein
BalloonTrees_128Balloons do come from trees—rubber trees. Told in rhyme, the story follows the wide variety of steps involved in making the air-filled decorations we all know and love. Starting with the tapping of the rubber tree, the ship that carries the liquid rubber to the factory, and the manufacturing process itself; readers will learn just how that balloon arrived at his or her house. This delightful, fun-to-read-aloud story is sure to give readers a new appreciation for balloons. key phrases for educators: change in state of matter, production of goods (how things are made), natural resources, transportation of goods, geography

Deductive Detective by Brian Rock, illustrated by Sherry Rogers
DeductiveDetective_128Someone stole a cake from the cake contest—who could it be? Twelve animal bakers are potential suspects but Detective Duck uses his deductive reasoning skills to “quack” the case. After all, the thief left hairs behind so the thief wasn’t a bird. Follow along as he subtracts each suspect one at a time to reveal just who the culprit was. This clever story will have children of all ages giggling at the puns and the play on words. Key phrases for educators: subtraction, deductive reasoning, animal adaptations, puns/play on words.

Ferdinand Fox’s First Summer by Mary Holland
FerdinandFox_128Follow this young fox as he explores the world around him during the first few months of his life. He’s about a month old when he first comes out of the den. Watch as he explores the world around him, learning how to hunt through play and by using his senses. See the changes as he grows from a young kit to a young fox. After all, by the next summer, he’ll have children of his own! Naturalist photographer and environmental educator Mary Holland has captured Ferdinand’s First Summer in a way that is sure to grab children’s hearts.

Nature Recycles: How About You? by Michelle Lord, illustrated by Cathy Morrison
NatureRecycles_128From sea urchins in the Atlantic Ocean to bandicoots on the Australian savanna, animals all over the world recycle. Explore how different animals in different habitats use recycled material to build homes, protect themselves and get food. This fascinating collection of animal facts will teach readers about the importance of recycling and inspire them to take part in protecting and conserving the environment by recycling in their own way. key phrases for educators: recycling, animal adaptations and behaviors, geography.

On the Move: Seasonal Migration by Scotti Cohn, illustrated by Susan Detwiler
OnTheMove_128Imagine seeing hundreds of the same type of animal gathered at the same place and at the same time! Right here in North America many animals gather in huge numbers and can be seen at predictable times and locations. Not all migrations are tied to seasonal food changes—some are tied to life cycles and the need to gather in huge numbers. Certain birds, reptiles, mammals, amphibians, fish, and even insects migrate during spring, summer, fall, or winter. Travel along with them as you learn about what puts these animals On the Move. key phrases for educators: life cycles, migrations, seasons, geography.

Shark Baby by Ann Downer, illustrated by Shennen Bersani
SharkBaby_128“Who am I?” wonders Shark Baby. When his “mermaid’s purse” egg case is torn loose in a storm, he finds himself on a journey through different ocean habitats: kelp forests, coral reefs, and seagrass meadows. He learns what kind of shark he isn’t, but not what kind he is. He needs to find the “mermaid” to learn where he belongs, but the ocean is big and full of dangers. Will he find out who he is—and what he can do—in time?

The new eBooks have just gone online, and are available for purchase at http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com. Paperbacks and hardcovers are coming next month, but you can pre-order now!