Sea Turtles

  • There are 7 species of sea turtle worldwide. 5 of them can be found in the Gulf of Mexico: Loggerhead, Leatherback, Hawkbill, Kemp's ridley, and Green sea turtles.
  • Sea turtles spend their entire lives at sea, except for females, who return to land every 2-5 years during mating seasons to lay eggs.
  • Assuming Barnacle is a leatherback sea turtle, she really doesn't eat fish ("I eat no fish," as she asserts to the fish and Clam at the cave of the Sea Urchin). She eats jellyfish and other soft-bodied ocean creatures, like tunicates.
Green turtle swimming over coral reefs in Kona.

Bottlenose Dolphin

A bottlenose dolphin swims in the Gulf of Mexico. Image courtesy of WikiCommons.
  • There are 32 species of dolphins
  • Not all whales are dolphins, but all dolphins are whales- dolphins are actually a special kind of whale!
  • Dolphins are known to be altruists, which means they help other dolphins or even members of other species without any reward for themselves (like Daedalus helping Barnacle in Dark Water!)

Sheepshead Fish

  • Sheepshead fish can live for up to 20 years
  • Sheepshead have five to seven black vertical stripes running down their bodies, earning them the nickname "the convict fish" 
  • Sheepshead fish have teeth that look like human teeth
  • Sheepshead fish cannot tolerate low oxygen levels in water, and are prone to die-off when their water is polluted or oxygen levels lowered
Courtesy of Creative Commons.

Sea Urchin

Purple sea urchin courtesy of Creative Commons.
  • Sea urchins usually live in warm water on rocky bottoms or close to coral reefs

  • Some sea urchins, such as the flower urchin, have spikes filled with venom

  • Sea urchins have five pairs of feet on the bottom of their bodies which end in suckers. These help them move and stick to rocks or other surfaces on the sea floor 

  • Most sea urchin species live up to 30 years, but the red sea urchin can live up to 200 years

Red Grouper

  • Red Groupers spawn almost 26 times per year, from February to June
  • Red Groupers are among the top predators in coral reef communities. They feed by opening their mouths and engulfing their prey whole
  • Red Groupers are prey to carnivorous marine mammals and large sharks
Image courtesy of WikiCommons.


Image courtesy of Creative Commons.
  • There are 20 species of seagulls worldwide. Seagulls are extremely widespread and are even found in the Arctic

  • Seagulls are an incredibly old species and have existed on the planet for at least 30 million years

  • Seagulls are known to be very intelligent and use sophisticated hunting methods such as stamping their feet to imitate the sound of rain and lure earthworms to the surface

  • Seagulls occasionally partake in cannibalism and eat younger members of their own species

Great Blue Heron

  • Great Blue Herons are the most widespread bird in North America

  • Great Blue Herons are the largest heron in North America, growing 3-4.5 feet tall and with a 6-foot wingspan

  • Great Blue Herons spend approximately 90% of their waking hours stalking for food 

  • Great Blue Herons are well known for their graceful appearance

Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Ribbon Snake

Image courtesy of Creative Commons.
  • There are four subspecies of ribbon snake: Eastern, Blue-Striped, Peninsula, and Northern
  • Ribbon snakes are easily recognized by their three bright stripes which run down the center of their backs and down the sides of their bodies
  • Ribbon snakes are non-venomous
  • Eastern ribbon snakes are semi-aquatic and almost always found in close proximity to water

American Alligator

  • American alligators were on the endangered species list from 1967-1987. Now they are found in multitude across the southeastern US, but especially Florida and Louisiana

  • The average male American alligator is 10-15 feet long

  • Female alligators are gentle mothers- they guard their eggs until they hatch, and then carry their babies in their mouths to water nearby. Young alligators stay with their moms for up to two years

Image courtesy of the United States Coast Guard.
Image courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Content Citations

NOAA Fisheries. Red Grouper. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2018,

Softschools. Seagull Facts. 2015,

Softschools. Sea Urchin Facts. 2015,

The National Geographic Society. American Alligator. 2015,

The National Geographic Society. Green Sea Turtle. National Geographic Kids, 2015,

The National Geographic Society. Ten Facts About Bottlenose Dolphins. National Geographic Kids, n.d,!/register

The Washington Nature Mapping Program. Great Blue Heron. Nature Mapping Animal Facts for Kids, n.d,

Wildscreen Archive. Eastern Ribbon Snake. N.d,