Last February, Ocean Conservancy became the Ocean Partner for the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee, the first-ever ocean partner in Super Bowl history. Our partnership helps bring attention and action to the health of Florida’s coasts for this year’s Big Game. Like football, protecting the ocean is a team sport. As we don our game faces for the Super Bowl this weekend, we wanted to spotlight some of the ocean’s biggest players. These animals are the MVPs along Florida’s coast.
Every team needs a star player known for both brawn and beauty. Sure, their sluggish pace has earned them the name “sea cows” but what manatees lack in speed they make up for in style. Throughout history sailors had looked down at these graceful swimmers and mistaken them for mermaids. The taxonomic order for manatees and their cousins the dugong is Sirenia, derived from sirens, a nod to their mistaken identity. Without a doubt, manatees would be the face of the team making the fans swoon with their cute looks.
Manatees are also tough. The closest living relatives to manatees and dugongs are elephants. They share their rough skin and have vestigial fingernails on their flippers that resemble their evolutionary cousin. Manatees can weigh up to 1,200 pounds. To keep up that size they have eat roughly 10% of their body weight every day, around 120 pounds of food. Bring forth the nachos, that’s one big pre-game meal!
I’m sure the rules of football prohibit players who can fly, but that doesn’t keep us from wanting to see a brown pelican take the field. Pelicans can hold about 3 gallons of water in their bill with its signature stretchy throat pouch. Their bill would not only be useful to carry a football down a field, it also plays an important role in helping the pelican eat. Contrary to what you may have seen in Finding Nemo, pelicans do not use their bills as a storage space for fish. It helps them drain the water out before they tip their mouths back and swallow their delicious meal. With such an amazing asset, brown pelicans would be able to scoop up a ball and deliver it down the field in no time.
Brown pelicans know how to get in formation. They generally gather in large flocks for most of their lives. In flight they tend to form a long straight line or a “V” shape. They will synchronize their wingbeats as they fly just above the water’s surface. Brown pelicans know how to work together as one with a team of their best mates.
As most hares can attest, turtles are wise, steady and sure winners in a long game of football. The loggerhead turtles are named for their large heads, which some people think resemble logs. They need that extra noggin space to house their powerful jaws which allow them to bite through the shells of crustaceans or mollusks. Early in their life loggerhead turtles spend their time using that powerful set of chompers to feast and hang out in the open ocean where the temperature is agreeable and there are fewer predators.
The true Mr. Worldwide, loggerhead turtles are the most widespread species of turtles in the world. They don’t reach sexual maturity until they are 35 years old. When it is time to breed they’ll make long migrations, crossing the ocean to return to the beach where they hatched as a baby. One of the most common breeding sites is on the southeastern coast of America. These incredible hometown heroes will sometimes journey thousands of miles just to get back to the place of their birth.
Each one of these ocean creatures needs you to continue to thrive. From ocean plastics to shipping to pollution, these animals face a lot of threats to their survival. We want to recruit you for #TeamOcean for the wellbeing of all our players! You can make the winning play by taking action to defend our ocean:
- Commit to Quit the Cutlery and say no thanks to single-use plastic utensils.
- Tackle the spread of single-use plastic by pledging to Skip the Straw.
- Download our award-nominated app, Clean Swell, and pick up trash from your favorite beach or waterway during the International Coastal Cleanup and beyond.