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Monday, October 3, 2022
HomeScuba DivingDo Any Ocean Animals Get Sunburns?

Do Any Ocean Animals Get Sunburns?



Query: Do any ocean animals have to fret about getting sunburned? If not, why? — Rachel G

Reply: A lot of animals do get sunburned, however people who keep away from it accomplish that by making their very own organic sunscreen or behavioral avoidance.

Sunburn is a bodily and physiological response to UV gentle from the solar. In people, it’s not solely itchy or painful, it additionally signifies some harm to your DNA. Repeated sunburns enhance your threat of pores and skin most cancers. Just about any animal with uncovered pores and skin is weak to sunburn, not less than to a point, in response to a Smithsonian Nationwide Zoo keeper. Having scales provides a point of safety, so sunburn is uncommon in fishes, however a dramatic colour change in response to intense UV gentle has been documented in hammerhead sharks in Hawaii.

As any diver is aware of, daylight diminishes quickly with depth, so animals that hang around on the floor lots are usually extra weak to sunburn than these that don’t. Sunburn has certainly been documented in animals that come to the floor usually, like whales, and sunburn ensuing from an ozone layer gap was partially blamed for an “uncommon mortality occasion” in Arctic seals.Comparable diversifications are seen in land animals that defend themselves from the solar by overlaying their pores and skin in mud, filth, or sand, whereas others can produce a organic sunscreen-like compound.



Solar publicity isn’t the one doubtlessly harsh environmental situation that ocean animals must adapt to. Animals that get trapped in tide swimming pools must tolerate an enormous vary in water temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen–together with doubtlessly being completely out of the water for just a few hours a day. Animals that reside in estuaries must tolerate big ranges in salinity, particularly after a significant rainstorm. Some organisms can tolerate the acute warmth of dwelling close to a hydrothermal vent, whereas others can tolerate the acute chilly of dwelling within the polar zone. To outlive excessive stress, deep sea organisms are sometimes small or have gelatinous our bodies. For combatting the chilly, some fishes have an antifreeze-like protein of their blood.

Since we are able to’t develop scales or produce our personal organic sunscreen, make sure you put on your sunscreen whereas having fun with a day on the water!


Ask a Marine Biologist is a month-to-month column the place Dr. David Shiffman solutions your questions concerning the underwater world. Matters are chosen from reader-submitted queries in addition to knowledge from frequent web searches. When you have a query you’d like answered in a future Ask a Marine Biologist column, or you probably have a query concerning the reply given on this column, electronic mail Shiffman at WhySharksMatter@gmail.com with topic line “Ask a marine biologist.”

Dr. David Shiffman is a marine conservation biologist specializing within the ecology and conservation of sharks. An award-winning public science educator, David has spoken to hundreds of individuals all over the world about marine biology and conservation and has bylines with the Washington Publish, Scientific American, New Scientist, Gizmodo and extra. Comply with him on @WhySharksMatter on Twitter, Fb and Instagram, the place he’s at all times blissful to reply any questions on sharks.

The views expressed on this article are these of David Shiffman, and never essentially the views Scuba Diving journal.


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