We hope that each of you, our readers, will enjoy and appreciate this article we present about these 5 Marvelous Mediterranean Sea Species. It was our pleasure to gather the information for you. May it provide you with both education and increased awareness.
Certainly, these few species listed herein represent only a portion of the similar marvels in this region. It’s our belief, though, that they serve as excellent representations of the wonders that exist. Check out some of our other articles for similar marvels.
European Eel Facts
- Leading off this compendium of 5 Marvelous Mediterranean Sea Species we give you the remarkable creature known as the European Eel.
- This creation of Nature and evolution most frequently goes by the somewhat deceptive common name due to its range. It’s also known by a variety of alternate monikers. These include such terms as River Eel, Common Eel, Glass Eel, and Weed Eel.
- Among professionals, such as researchers, though, it’s usually referred to by its technical name. That’s the strangely repetitive term of Anguilla anguilla. As such titles go, though it may seem odd, it’s actually fairly simple, compared to other such names.
- The animal originally bore another technical name, however. In fact, in the annals of science it’s been classified under several. The original term assigned to it, though, was that of Muraena anguilla. This ocurred due to reclassification of the remarkable species.
- The credit for the original name, though, goes to the renowned Swedish researcher, Carl Linnaeus. That’s because he made the first known official recognition of it as a separate and distinct species. This scientifically noteworthy deed he accomplished in 1758.
- Sadly, however, its numbers appear to have been drastically reduced. This unfortunate fact seems to hold true throughout the entirety of its known natural range. The IUCN, therefore, presently lists the European Eel as Critically Endangered on its Red List.
- Factors contributing to its plummeting numbers include migration barriers, such as dams, and overfishing. It also faces threats posed by changes to its habitat, largely due to human activities. And, it also faces the threat of climate change, like all of us.
European Eel Physical Description
The remarkable European Eel certainly draws the attention of those who encounter it. That’s simply because it’s a fascinating animal. For most individuals, though, the most impressive thing about this creature is its physical appearance. That includes its sheer physical size.
Specimens attain a respectable growth. Like most its kindred, it also displays only an extremely small degree of the physiological characteristic of sexual dimorphism. In its case, also as in other eels, the only noticeable difference occurs in the structure of the gonads.
Individuals of both genders appear otherwise indistinguishable to the non-professional. On average, members of this species attain a body length of 2.0 – 2.6 ft (60 – 80 cm). Exceptional specimens do occur, however. These sometimes reach up to 59 in (1.5 m).
As is immediately obvious to the observor, the body develops as highly elongated. That’s typical of all its relatives. This particular species, though, has a somewhat more rounded shape than some others. This trait gives the creature a more snake-like shape than some eels.
Other physical traits of the European Eel also remain quite similar to the rest of its Order. This includes the presence of small, slit-like gills. It also displays pectoral fins, but not pelvic. It’s overall color scheme consists of yellowish-brown, mainly on the stomach and sides.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Actinopterygii
- Order: Anguilliformes
- Family: Anguillidae
- Genus: Anguilla
- Species: A. anguilla
European Eel Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The intriguing European Eel evolved as native to a much broader range of the globe than its common name suggests. That’s due to the fact that this marvel of Nature developed as endemic to extensive areas of the Atlantic Ocean. Within that, though, it’s range is specific.
More precisely, the vast majority of specimens make their home in the coastal regions. This does include in Europe, of course, from the White Sea to the Black Sea. It also appears from Scandinavia to Morocco. This gives it a simultaneously broad yet selective range.
Defining its habitat also qualifies as complicated. This holds true due to the nature of its evolutionary path. The greatest portion of its population begin their lives in the main spawning area. This region lies within the section of the ocean known as the Sargasso Sea.
Early in their larval stage, however, individuals migrate to inland, freshwater waterways. These include various lakes and rivers. Some, though, also appear in more brackish waters, such as estuaries. They return to the sea, though, to spawn. Each then dies soon after.
Mature specimens of the European Eel develop as nocturnal in their habits. At night, each hides in the mud, or stones and such. They typically emerge only at night. During most of its life, each individual lives a mainly solitary existence. The lone exception’s during spawning.
It feeds on a wide variety of prey. This mostly consists of molluscs, worms, crustaceans, and insects. It also consumes carrion opportunistically. It itself has few natural predators. Its lifespan in the wild is unknown, but captive specimens live as much as 80 years or more.
Harbor Porpoise Facts
- Next up in this article about 5 Marvelous Mediterranean Sea Species is the appealing mammal appropriately called the Harbor Porpoise.
- Perhaps most notably, the term used for it serves as the most frequently used of the common names for a stunning marine mammal. Like many species, though, the stunning creature also goes by other names, in various portions of its native range.
- These terms include such diverse names as the nise, and, for unknown reasons, the somewhat humorous name of the puffing pig. Its official, scientific name, however remains that of the unique, and hard to pronounce, term of Phocoena phocoena.
- Regardless of which name one uses to refer to it, though, this magnificent creature represents one of only six or seven known surviving species of porpoise. The current discrepancy occurs due to ongoing debates over whether or not one is a subspecies.
- The first known scientific description of this marvelous cetacean occurred in 1758. This comparatively important footnote in scientific history also holds another distinction. That’s because it occurred at the hands of the Swedish zoologist, Carl Linnaeus.
- However, the animal itself had long been known to portions of mankind. That awareness, in fact, dates back to ancient times. In modern times, though, for the moment, the Harbor Porpoise appears to be maintaining a fairly sizable population.
- The IUCN nonetheless currently lists the mammal as Vulnerable. This status appears on its Red List of Threatened Species. Furthermore, this occurs due to concerns over the extreme vulnerability of the species to potential habitat loss and climate change.
Harbor Porpoise Physical Description
Although the Harbor Porpoise remains an impressive specimen of a marine cetacean, it does not earn that status due to size. Even among other porpoises, it’s smaller than average. Yet, it’s not the smallest of the porpoises. That distinction currently belongs to the Vaquita.
This fascinating mammal additionally displays a very slight degree of the physiological characteristic of sexual dimorphism. That remains a characteristic it shares with most of its relatives. In its case, though, that characteristic manifests itself in terms of mass.
That holds true since the females of this particular species have an average body weight equaling 25 – 30 percent more than the males. However, both genders attain roughly the same body length. The females, therefore, have a much thicker-bodied appearance.
In fact, each of the sexes typically reaches an average length that measures between 4.6 – 6.2 ft (1.4 – 1.9 m). In terms of weight, though, males reach an average weight of approximately, 134 lb (61 kg). Meanwhile, though, the bulkier females average a weight of 168 lb (76 kg).
The genders appear similar otherwise. The body of the animal develops as robust, being widest near the dorsal fin. The sides display a light gray, with speckling. The tail fin, back, flippers, and dorsal fin show a dark gray. The underside, though, displays a white in color.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Artiodactyla
- Family: Phocoenidae
- Genus: Phocoena
- Species: P. phocoena
Harbor Porpoise Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Quite amazingly, the beautiful Harbor Porpoise has a uniquely broad range of natural habitation. It’s also simultaneously highly restricted in some ways, though. That somewhat confusing state of affairs occurs because of a combination of factors, however.
Firstly, the beautiful marine animal appears in parts of the Black Sea, the North Pacific, and the North Atlantic. Secondly, however, the animal further only appears in narrow bands. These, as it happens, most often extend along the coastal regions of the continents.
The greatest concentration appears along the coasts of northwest Europe. Its very name provides an indication of its habitat. That’s due to the fact that the cetacean only appears in shallow waters, often near, or even in, various harbors and bays in its region of habitation.
In point of fact, this stunning creature rarely dwells in waters possessing a depth of greater than 500 ft (152 m). The magnificent Harbor Porpoise also frequently travels inland waters. This extension of its range typically includes estuaries, and even far up rivers.
Throughout the entirety of its range, it feeds on a variety of prey. These mainly consist of small fish travelling in schools. But, it also consumes smaller squids and crustaceans on occasion. Understandably, though, its exact prey varies depending on individual location.
Quite sadly, reliable data about much of the life cycle of this fabulous creature presently remains in short supply. Yet, some evidence indicates that this animal prefers to stay within a limited area. This has the regrettable effect of leaving the marvel quite vulnerable.
The creature also appears that the impressive species lives a primarily solitary life. Most often, observed specimens appeared either alone, or in small groups of no more than 5 individuals. It also seems to possess a relatively short lifespan, measuring only 8 – 13 years.
Common Bottlenose Dolphin
Common Bottlenose Dolphin Facts
- Appearing in the third spot in this listing of 5 Marvelous Mediterranean Sea Species, the gorgeous Common Bottlenose Dolphin does so only due to random selection.
- This magnificent ocean-dwelling creation of evolution generally goes by the intriguing name across its known range. The animal does have a very similar alternate general name, though. That’s the informative moniker of Atlantic bottlenose dolphin.
- Within scientific circles, however, it’s better known by its technical name. Fortunately for the layperson, that’s the relatively easy to pronounce term of Tursiops truncatus. No matter which term one chooses, it remains a beautiful and impressive creature.
- It received that official name due to the efforts of the English naturalist, George Mantagu. He accomplished the first recorded acknowledgement of it as a separate and distinct species. This scientifically noteworthy act occured in the year 1821.
- The animal’s common name suits it, as it’s perhaps the most numerous, widespread, and best-known of all its kin. It also has perhaps the most extensive zone of habitation of its relatives. Sadly, it’s also the most popular in marine parks and aquariums.
- Unlike many others of its kind, the Common Bottlenose Dolphin seems to be maintaing a sufficient population base. That further appears to hold true throughout the entirety of its known range. The IUCN therefore currently list it as Least Concern.
- The animal nevertheless does face potential threats to its existence, at least. In this, the same dangers exist as for other marine species. These include such factors as active hunting and accidental bycatch. Doubtless, though, its greatest threat is climate change.
Common Bottlenose Dolphin Physical Description
One way in which the majestic Common Bottlenose Dolphin distinguishes itself from other dolphins around the world is sheer size. That’s due to the fact that this wonder of Nature ranks as the largest of all known beaked dolphins. That’s an impressive claim to fame.
It does follow the same pattern as other many other cetacea, though. That’s because the fabulous animal does display a moderate degree of the physiological trait of sexual dimorphism. In its specific case, this trait manifests itself in terms of simple physical size.
Males generally attain a greater length and body mass than their female counterparts. In most instances, though, the difference isn’t greatly significant. Overall, both measurements vary significantly, often following different ranges. This includes both genders, as well.
As a general rule, however, individuals reach a length of between 6.6 – 13.1 ft (2 – 4 m). Weights also naturally vary accordingly. This ranges from 330 – 1,430 lb (150 – 650 kg). Exceptional specimens do occur, though, in both categories, regardless of gender.
In coloring, the Common Bottlenose Dolphin presents a nearly uniform gray shade. Slight variations occasionally present themselves in individuals, however. Upon close inspection, however, many present a slightly lighter shade on the underside of the body.
The cetacea further possesses a short, wel-defined nose. Often compared to a bottle, this serves as the source of the common name. Its neck evolved as more flexible than its cousins, too. That’s because five of their seven vertebrae aren’t fused, unlike other dolphins.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Artiodactyla
- Family: Delphinidae
- Genus: Tursiops
- Species: T. truncatus
Common Bottlenose Dolphin Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Thankfully, the Common Bottlenose Dolphin evolved as native to a truly extensive range. In fact, it lives in marine waters across much of the globe. Incredibly, this mammal makes its home in every portion of the planet’s oceans, with the exception of the polar regions.
This means the creature is equally at home in either tropical, subtropical, or temperate marine waters. Experts estimate its current global population to be approximately 600,000. It also migrates great distances, either individually or in groups of various size
Intriguingly, groups of the cetacean live in groupings both near the shore and further out to sea. In this repsect, the two differing concentrations display differing habitat preferences. Those populations living further out tend to undertake the more significant migrations.
Those members of the species residing closer to shore typically migrate less often, and for shorter distances. These same specimens also adapt to warm, shallower waters. This frequently includes such varied areas as lagoons, estuaries, bays, and even harbors.
Again following the pattern established by its many kin, the Common Bottlenose Dolphin lives as a very social species. Most specimens live in small groups called pods. These groups average 15 in number, but sometimes exceed 100 members. Lone individual are rare.
Its diet consists mainly of shrimp, squid, eels, and a wide range of fish species. The mammal hunts using echolocation, and does so effectively. The pods often hunt as a team, increasing their effectiveness. It has few predators of its own. These mainly include orcas and sharks.
Atlantic White-Spotted Octopus
Atlantic White-Spotted Octopus Facts
- The next creature making its appearance in this compilation of 5 Marvelous Mediterranean Sea Species is the Atlantic White-Spotted Octopus.
- This dazzling cephalopd most frequently goes by the descriptive common name that it does for obvious reasons. The invertebrate also has another, quite similar familiar name. That, though, is simply the less informative White-Spotted Octopus.
- At least two other alternate, non-technical terms also exist for the distinctive octopus. These, however, aren’t at all like the others. They include the terms grass scuttle and grass octopus. Whichever of these one uses, though, it remains a remarkable animal.
- Meanwhile, professionals, such as researchers, typically use its formal name when referring to the creature. That term’s difficult for non-professionals to pronounce, though. This is because it bears the official moniker of the Callistoctopus macropus.
- It received that name due to the efforts of the respected French naturalist, Giuseppe Antonio Risso. He recorded the first official recognition of it as a separate and distinct species. The researcher accomplished that scientifically noteworthy deed in 1826.
- Luckily, the Atlantic White-Spotted Octopus appears to be maintaining a population base that’s both stable and sufficient. This also seems to hold true throughout its native range. The IUCN, therefore, presently lists the animal as Least Concern.
- The intriguing invertebrate nevertheless should be considered to be facing at least some threats to its existence. Habitat loss due to human expansion may someday pose a threat. Its greatest danger, though, perhaps come from ongoing climate change.
Atlantic White-Spotted Octopus Physical Description
The aptly-named Atlantic White-Spotted Octopus serves as an excellent example of the fact that Nature places no importance on physical dimensions. That’s because, though it easily impresses those who encounter it, the animal does not do so due to sheer physical size.
Like most of its many relatives, this octopus does display the physiological characteristic of sexual dimorphism. In its case, however, the degree of difference remains so slight as to render the genders virtually indistinguishable to the untrained observer.
The central body mass, known as the mantle, attains an average length of about 8 in (20 cm). Its length, in terms of its extended arms, however, becomes somewhat hard to define. That’s due to variations in the lengths of the various pairs of arms the animal develops.
That’s because the first pair grows to a significantly greater length than the rest. These reach an average length of around 3.3 ft (1 m). The three other pairs of tentacles, though, stay much shorter. The resulting total length averages approximately 59 in (1.5 m).
The wonders of the Atlantic White-Spotted Octopus don’t simply end there, however. The entire group of eight tentacles possesses by the wonder of Nature and evolution develop as connected by a shallow web of flesh. This makes it a variety of blanket octopus.
The physical attribute that garners the most attention, though, remains its general appearance. The overall color scheme consists of a light red. White splotches also appear on the body. It’s the numerous white spots on the arms, though, that earn the name.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Mollusca
- Class: Cephalopoda
- Order: Octopoda
- Family: Octopodidae
- Genus: Callistoctopus
- Species: C. macropus
Atlantic White-Spotted Octopus Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Thankfully, the distinctive Atlantic White-Spotted Octopus evolved as endemic to a moderately large portion of the marine areas of the world. For the moment, no evidence exists that it ever possessed a more extensive range. Research remains ongoing, however.
All known populations of this species of octopus appear in portions of two seas and one ocean. One grouping of specimens live in the Mediterranean Sea. Smaller population concentrations also make their home in parts of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.
Yet, even within these regions, the animal displays decided preferences for its choice of specific habitat. Individuals only reside in the temperate and tropical portions of these three regions. Its most favored habitats seem to consist of rubble, sand, or seagrass meadows.
It also displays precise preferences in terms of the depths at which it makes its home. At its shallowest, this range extends all the way to the waterline, near the shore itself. Yet, at its most extreme limits of its range, it never appears at depths beyond 56 ft (17 m).
The tantalizing Atlantic White-Spotted Octopus also evolved another trait that distinguishes it from most of its kindred. That’s true due to the fact that it’s much more selective in its feeding habits. It generally feeds on small fish and invertebrates hiding among coral.
Following mating, the female attaches groups of eggs onto a hard surface, forming a sheet of them. She remains, however, to watch over and protect them. Yet, she also ceases to eat at this time. Consequently, she typically dies soon after the numerous eggs hatch.
Fin Whale Facts
- Closing out this gathering of 5 Marvelous Mediterranean Sea Species is the largest of the group, the massive Fin Whale.
- This magnificent work of Nature and evolution most frequently goes by the common name given to it here. It also goes by the alternate name of the common rorqual and the finback whale. Previously it was also known by two other unique terms.
- Those formerly used names consisted of the razorback whale and the herring whale. Scientists, however, know it by yet another term. It’s a much more difficult to pronounce term, however. That’s its technical name of Balaenoptera physalus.
- The first formal acknowledgement of the astounding creature as a separate and distinct species occurred in 1758. That official recognition additionally took place at the hands of the highly esteemed Swedish botanist and zoologist, Carl Linnaeus.
- Regrettably, like many of its brethren, humans once hunted this mammoth of the seas mercilessly. Due to the actions of humans, its population plummeted. Thankfully, though, the International Whaling Commission issued a moratorium on hunting of it.
- Following this action, its numbers slowly rebounded, though its numbers still lag far behind the original. Current estimates now place its global population at between 100,000 and 119,000. The IUCN, therefore, now lists the cetacean as Vulnerable.
- The beautiful Fin Whale still faces many threats to its existence, despite the ban. That’s because of several factors. One of those consists of the fact that Japan and Iceland have resumed hunting. It further faces the ongoing threat posed by climate change.
Fin Whale Physical Description
The breathtaking Fin Whale quite easily impresses the viewer for several undeniable reasons. The first of these, however, has to be its sheer physical size. That’s due to the fact that the whale represents the second-largest of all creatures known to currently exist.
Physical dimensions actually vary between populations in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Overall, however, the difference remains relatively minor. Individuals further display a moderate degree of the physiological trait of sexual dimorphism.
In its specific case, this trait manifests in terms of physical size. More precisely, females attain an average body length slightly greater than that of the males. The former average around 66 ft (20 m), while the males only attain lengths averaging about 61 ft (18.5 m).
The body weights of the genders, understandably, also differ. In the Northern Hemisphere, the longer females typically weigh 111,000 lbs (50,349 kg), but the males only average 85,000 lb (38,555 kg). In the Southern Hemisphere, both measurements are slightly greater.
Otherwise, though, the two sexes remain virtually identical in terms of general physical appearance. This visual pattern remains a complex mix, though. The underside appears an off-white in color. The upperside, meanwhile, appears grayish to brownish.
The head of the Fin Whale, though, presents a unique pattern of its own. On the left side, this appears a dark gray. The right side, though, shows a surprisingly complex pattern. This consists of various patches of contrasting light and dark gray and brown shades.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Artiodactyla
- Family: Balaenopteridae
- Genus: Balaenoptera
- Species: B. physalis
Fin Whale Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
One factor working in the favor of the awesome Fin Whale continues to be its habitat range. That’s because this species, like most rorquals, has a cosmopolitan distribution. In point of fact, populations appear in virtually all of the major oceans of the globe.
These include regions extending from both the North and South Poles, to all of the tropical regions. The exceptions to this range remain few, in fact. These include the zones near the ice packs at both poles. Others, though, include areas such as the Red Sea.
This wonder of Nature also displays a high degree of versatility in its habitat preferences. That’s clearly demonstrated, however, by its appearance in such wide-ranging climates. It does appear to be more common intemperate and cool waters, though.
Like many of its related species, this cetacean evolved as a filter feeder. It therefore feeds primarily on vast quantities of krill. Its diet does, however, include a smaller percentage of other prey. These include other small crustaceans, fish, and sometimes squid.
It in turn has only one known natural predator, other than mankind, of course. That’s the equally magnificent Orca. To the best knowledge of researchers, however, such attacks occur on a rare basis. When they do, it typically involves several so-called killer whales.
For the amazing Fin Whale, mating usually occurs in the Winter. The females typically give birth every 2-3 years, and to a single calf, though multiples do occur. These sometimes number as many as calves. Finally, mobile groups generally average 6-10 specimens.
5 Marvelous Mediterranean Sea Species
We hope that each of you enjoyed reading, and hopefully learning from, this article we’ve written about these 5 Marvelous Mediterranean Sea Species. It’s also our hope that doing so has left you with either a new or renewed appreciation for such wonders of Nature.
Unfortunately, however, many of their kindred around the world now find themselves facing strong threats to their continued existence as a species. Many of those dangers, in fact, stem from the actions of mankind. We must do all we can to protect and preserve them all.