Education

Coastal Habitats

Gulf animals get no breaks!

No place to hide

There isn't much shelter in open Gulf waters but that isn't a problem for some fish. Great hammerhead, lemon and bull sharks rely on sheer size to protect them from becoming another fish's prey.

Smaller fish like bluefish and tarpon blend into the background to avoid being eaten. Seen from above, the fish's dark backs match the seafloor, seen from below, their pale bellies fade into the light from the surface. Stingrays and cownose rays count on camouflage, too, burying their flat, brownish bodies in the soft bottom.

Not much is home grown

Most of the food that offshore animals eat comes from one of two sources. Organic matter is carried into the Gulf by the rivers while tiny plants and animals grow near the surface then slowly sink to the bottom.

Worms and other deposit-feeders swallow the mud on the bottom, digest the food in it and expel the rest. Filter-feeding tube worms sift food out of the water before it reaches the bottom. Flesh-eating fish and crabs hunt for live food or clean up the scraps others leave behind.

Animals of the Gulf Waters

Learn more by clicking on an image below.


Select a coastal habitat:

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