And He committed the sea to
serve you; you eat from it tender meat and extract jewelry which
you wear. And you see the ships roaming it for your commercial benefits,
as you seek His bounties, that you may be appreciative. (16:14)
The two seas are not the same; one is fresh and delicious,
while the other is salty and undrinkable. From each of them you
eat tender meat, and extract jewelry to wear. And you see the ships
sailing through them seeking His provisions, that you may be appreciative.
Nearly three quarters of the earth’s surface is covered with
water, and in that vast space God has placed a huge variety of animals.
It would be impossible to talk about all of them, so I have divided
it into three categories: fish, invertebrates and whales. And even
then, I will only touch on a few of the thousands of species. It’s
a fascinating study; so much variety, so much to appreciate.
Fish are a gift from God and a provision for man. He tells us:
All fish of the sea are made lawful for you to eat. (5:96)
Fish is a very healthy food. Most modern nutritionists recommend
a diet that includes fish at least two or three times a week. And
people in cultures where fish is a prominent part of the diet seem
to have fewer heart problems. So it’s an important provision.
It would be enough if there were two or three kinds of fish; we
could survive on that. But God has outdone Himself in providing
us a variety to choose from and appreciate.
There are actually over 24,000 species of fish
known at present. Because the deep oceans
are still being explored and new life is continuously being discovered,
there may be thousands more species yet to be found. We probably
only know a fraction of all the sea life. Fish range in size from
the pygmy goby which is less than 10 mm up to a whale shark that
may be nearly 60 feet long. Fish live in mountain lakes at elevations
of 12,000 feet and higher and in ocean depths of at least 25,000
God gave all fish adaptations in order to survive in the water.
They breath through special organs called gills. Blood circulating
through the gills removes oxygen from the water and distributes
it throughout the body. Carbon dioxide is passed out into the water.
Fish also have a swim bladder, a special air-filled organ which
allows fish to float at the desired depth without using a lot of
energy to swim in place. The scales on most fish offer protection
but are light and flexible. Some fish have spiny knobs for greater
Many fish travel in schools, which is an amazing phenomenon. Individuals
all face the same direction, evenly spaced, moving at the same speed.
They wheel and turn as one. It might seem dangerous to travel with
so many in a tight formation, and in some cases, it does offer an
easy meal for certain predators. For instance, a sawfish will move
into the middle of a school and slash his sharp snout all around.
Then he feeds on the wounded fish. But in general the large group
actually reduces predation by having more look outs, and the larger
group may be intimidating and/or confusing to predators. Also, just
like birds flying in a flock, a school of fish greatly
increases the efficiency of swimming. A school
may number just a handful of individuals or millions. Schools of
herring have been observed that occupied nearly 4.6 billion cubic
meters of ocean.
Many fish are colored to match their surroundings and become nearly
invisible. Bright silvery fish generally swim in groups in well-lighted
waters such as mountain lakes, so the bright sun flashing off their
scales confuses predators—it’s difficult to pick out
an individual fish with all that flashing. Colors and patterns that
break up the outline of the fish may also act as camouflage. Fish
with vertical lines on each side of their bodies tend to live among
aquatic plants and thus blend in with the stems of the plants.
Even the vivid hues referred to as “poster colors”—the
dazzling, complex color patterns on so many reef fish—serve
practical functions, besides being beautiful to look at. In some,
such as butterfly fishes and puffers, colors may signal that the
possessor is too spiny or poisonous to be worth eating. Bright colors
may also be important signs of sex, status or maturity. And interestingly,
the bright colors may also provide camouflage. The sun shines in
patches through the water onto the reef. The brightly colored coral
itself and the sponges and anemones attached to it provide a place
for the fish to actually blend in and hide.
Some fish have some serious teeth! Viper fish, dragon fish, and
barracuda all catch and chew prey. Anglers are a group of fish that
have developed their own unique way of catching other fish.
Cont’d on page 4