1. Google Street View: Oceans
Oceans is sort of the same thing, except instead of looking at your ex-girlfriend’s house you can stroll directly into the Great Barrier Reef, or any one of dozens of underwater spots spread across six oceans. They’re adding more locations to the program as fast as they can, but so far they only have the reefs around the Galapagos Islands, Heron Island, Wilson Island, and Hanauma Bay, to name a few. This is part publicity stunt and part science project—while anyone can enjoy the tour, they’re also using the photos to monitor the growth (and decay) of the world’s most important coral reefs, which provide a combined home for a full 25 percent of all marine life.
2. Colossal Squid Digest Food With Their Brains
The colossal squid is massive—a full 10 meters (33 ft) long and almost 450 kilograms (1,000 lbs) in weight. It was recently hauled back to New Zealand to be studied, and they found something pretty incredible: Its digestive system runs right through the center of its brain. Gigantic squid like this inhabit the frigid waters of the deep ocean, and between the cold and their ridiculously slow metabolisms, they don’t actually need much food to survive. In fact, the half-ton animal only needs 30 grams (1 oz) of food per day to survive. That’s about what a single AA battery weighs.
3. Invisible bacteria.
The most abundant life form in the ocean is one you’ll never see—a family of bacteria collectively known as SAR11. They live in all the world’s oceans from the arctic to the tropics, and they’re incredibly efficient at their job—converting dissolved carbon into CO2. The most abundant predator in the ocean also exists at the microscopic level—a closely related group of viruses called pelagiphages. And they’re waging holy war on the SAR11 bacteria.
4. Dolphins Can See Through Animals
Dolphins, as everybody knows, use sonar to navigate through the water, hunt, communicate, and do just about everything. Known as echolocation, dolphin sonar involves high frequency bursts of sound created by forcing air through a network of tissues near their blowholes. A sac of fatty tissue below their jaws collects the rebounding sound waves and sends them through the dolphin’s inner ear, where the information is passed on to the brain, creating an “acoustical holographic image,” or a picture of the ocean in front of them.
The high frequency(40-130 KHz) of echolocation bursts functions like X-ray vision, allowing the dolphin to see into other animals. Based on dolphin behavior (especially in bottlenose dolphins), it’s believed that dolphins can peer into shark stomachs to see when they’re full, or to see when a female is pregnant.
5. Anguilla Eels Can Walk On Land
Anguilla eels spend about 20 years in the same lake. But they start and end their lives 6,500 kilometers (4,000 mi) across the Atlantic in the Sargasso Sea. To get from their European lakes to the Atlantic, anguillas work their way up and down waterways using an as-yet-undiscovered navigation system. If the waterway is blocked—with a dam, for example—the eels leave the water and cross fields and forests to the next stream or river. Environmentalists are actually using that unique ability to build climbable “ladders” on dams and weirs to allow the eels to complete their migrations. On a slightly more terrifying note, the larger cousins of anguillas, conger eels, can also cross dry land, and also have the tendency to attack people.