Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – @BednarChuck
Let’s face it, folks – as cool as the shark is, it’s also the Marsha Brady of the undersea animal kingdom. Whenever a prominent TV station wants to feature a week’s worth of programming about a specific aquatic creature, it’s always “shark, shark, shark!”
Unfortunately, that leaves plenty of interesting, unique and unusual marine life forms out in the cold, completely ignored by cable networks. Well, we here at redOrbit believe it’s way beyond time for these creatures to stop being overlooked. Forget “Shark Week” – here are five other sea animals that are also deserving of their own weeklong block of programming.
The first entry on our list is probably not a surprise. Whales, as Discovery News explained in a recent article, have demonstrated “elaborate communication techniques and cultural exchange” in their interactions with one another. Researchers have found that the creatures are capable of working together in creative ways when it comes to fishing, with each one playing a designated role in the process. They even use nets made out of air bubbles to trap their prey.
Again, probably not a surprise, given the fact that dolphins “possess large brains relative to their body size with a neocortex that is more convoluted than a human’s,” experts told CBS News. The dolphin is said to be second only to people when it comes to overall cognitive capacity. They can recognize themselves in mirrors, remember the communications of other dolphins when living in captivity for up to two decades, and use sponges to protect their noses when near rocks.
More than 50 years ago, marine biologists discovered that the octopus was able to distinguish between and remember several different types of geometric shapes, according to the Huffington Post. In the years since then, the creature has demonstrated several other feats of intelligence, including the ability to solve intricate puzzles and use items such as coconut shell-like tools in order to protect themselves from predators, as CNN.com noted in a December 2009 article.
The octopus isn’t the only intelligent cephalopod that’s worthy of a little extra TV time. The cuttlefish possesses the ability to change color and texture to blend in with its environment, the Huffington Post explained, and it also displays communication skills. The creature also alters its behavior based on specific interactions with other cuttlefish or predators, and males can even make themselves look like females to sneak past rivals and mate with secluded females.
5. Manta rays
Finally, we come to manta rays and their relatives, which according to BBC Wildlife Magazine have the largest brains of all of the 30,000-plus species of fish identified to date. Rays regularly demonstrate their smarts through coordinated and cooperative feeding habits, and their fossil record suggest that the creatures have been around in their modern form more than 20 million years. Plus, each of them has a unique series of blotches and spots on its stomach.
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