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'22 Animal Facts for the New Year

Ringing day 2 of the New Year with wonders of the aquatic animal world. 

In honor of 2022, here are 22 timeless facts to help you celebrate.

A shark swims in the Wild Reef exhibit at Shedd Aquarium.

1. No bones here

Sharks — along with rays, skates and sawfish — don’t have bones. Their skeletons are made of cartilage.

Sea otter Luna rests comfortably in a rubber bucket behind the scenes, her long body coiled to fit.

Sea otters have the densest fur of any animal.

2. A warm fur coat

Sea otters have the densest fur of any animal with up to 1 million hairs per square inch.

3. No can opener needed

Otters use tools like rocks to help them break hard-to-open food like clams and shells.

4. Keeping vegetarian

Adult green sea turtles are the only herbivorous sea turtles, meaning they eat only plants like seagrasses and algae.

Green sea turtle Nickel eats a head of lettuce at Shedd Aquarium.

5. Bad feather day

Instead of shedding a few feathers at a time like other birds, penguins lose their feathers all at once a few times a year in what’s called a “catastrophic molt.” It takes about two to three weeks for a penguin's feathers to fully regrow.

Fluffy tufts of feathers make a molting penguin's normally sleek silhouette look unkept and patchy.

Penguins lose their feathers all at once a few times a year in what’s called a “catastrophic molt.”

6. Together forever

Seahorses are one of the few fishes that mate for life.

A pair of weedy seadragons swim together at Shedd Aquarium.

A pair of weedy seadragons swim together.

Flower Hat Jellies in Underwater Beauty

7. Bioluminescence

Animals that produce light are called bioluminescent. Aquatic bioluminescent animals include some species of jellies, squid, flashlightfish and sea snails.

8. Not a plant

Corals are animals. Small coral polyps, each with a mouth and a stomach, grow and divide to form large colonies that are the building blocks of coral reefs. Corals are related to animals like jellies and sea anemones.

Coral polyps are visible on rigid red stalks of scarlet sea whip coral.

Small coral polyps, grow and divide to form large colonies that make up coral reefs.

9. Canaries of the sea

Beluga whales are nicknamed “canaries of the sea” for the large variety of noises they can make.

A small grey beluga calf sticks its head out of the water

10. Many arms

Sea stars typically have five arms, but some species can have up to 40. They also can regenerate lost arms.

A crown-of-thorns sea star sits on a pebbled bottom.

The crown of thorns sea star has more than five arms!

A group of cownose stingrays swim in their Stingray Touch habitat.

Schools of as many as 10,000 rays migrate together.

11. Group trip

Cownose rays make marathon mass migrations. In the Gulf of Mexico, schools of as many as 10,000 rays migrate from the waters off Florida's west coast down and around to Yucatan. Cownose rays are also found along the coast of West Africa.

12. Barking and roaring

California sea lions are very social and vocal animals. They can "roar" like lions, hence their common name, and can also sound like barking dogs.

A sea lion opens its long snout wide to emit a loud, deep "bark".

Sea lions can "roar" and can also sound like barking dogs.

13. Fast swimmers

Pacific white-sided dolphins can swim up to 25 miles per hour and can jump 20 feet out of the water.

Five dolphins leap high into the air

Pacific white-sided dolphins can jump up 20 feet high.

A pacific sea nettle jelly has a domed top and a long trailing ring of thin, hair-like tentacles surrounding a fleshy mass of thicker, curled tentacles and moves with the currents.

Sea jellies can be found in every ocean on the planet.

14. 95% water. 100% Amazing.

Jellies do not have hearts, bones or brains and are made up of 95 percent sea water. They can be found in every ocean on the planet.

15. Sensational

Each arm of a giant Pacific octopus has 280 suction cups that are individually controlled to feel, grasp, release and rotate. Each sucker also contains chemical sensors that let the octopus taste and smell its environment.

16. Skin breather

Amphibians absorb water and breathe air through their permeable skin, meaning liquids and gases can pass through it. This makes them susceptible to toxic pollutants in their environment.

A tiny froglet, about the size of the leaf it sits on, peers up at the camera.

Amphibians' permeable skin makes them susceptible to toxic pollutants in their environment.

Two alligators blend in with their surroundings, only their eyes visible above the water's surface.

American alligators use tools to hunt.

17. Clever 'gator

American alligators use tools to hunt. During spring, when marsh birds are searching for nesting materials, alligators deliberately collect twigs and sticks on top of their snouts, then sit and wait for the birds to come near.

18. On land and river

Dwarf caimans are semiaquatic reptiles. They are able to swim and spend time in the water, in trees and on land throughout their lives. They have a third, clear eyelid that acts as goggles when swimming underwater.

19. "Living fossils"

Lake sturgeon are the biggest fish in the Great Lakes. They appeared in the fossil record 136 million years ago and have not changed much since then.

20. Sharpshooters

Clouded archerfish and smallscale archerfish, freshwater fish native to Asia, are known for their ability to “spit” water out of their mouths to hit prey with considerable force. They can also leap 11 inches out of the water to catch insects in their mouths.

Clouded archerfish have narrow, lemon-shaped bodies with upturned mouths.

Clouded archerfish are known for their ability to “spit” water out of their mouths to hit prey above the water.

The Tasmanian king crab is one of the world’s largest crabs.

21. The king of crabs

The Tasmanian king crab is one of the world’s largest crabs. A female’s outer shell, called a carapace, can be larger than a football, and the crab can weigh 15 pounds. The males can be twice as large at 30 pounds.

22. Ears or feathers?

Great horned owls’ feather tufts are called plumicorns. They are often mistaken for ears, but owls’ ears - or auditory pits - are hidden behind the feathers on either side of their head. The ear holes are slightly offset, with one higher than the other, for owls to perfectly pinpoint where sounds are coming from.

Great horned owl Logan has long groups of feathers just above his eyes that tuft out from the sides of his head like horns.

Great horned owls’ feather tufts are often mistaken for ears.