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Red Sea General Info

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The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez (leading to the Suez Canal). The Red Sea is a Global 200 ecoregion. The sea is underlain by the Red Sea Rift which is part of the Great Rift Valley.

The Red Sea has a surface area of roughly 438,000 km². It is about 2250 km long and, at its widest point, 355 km wide. It has a maximum depth of 2211 m in the central median trench, and an average depth of 490 m. However, there are also extensive shallow shelves, noted for their marine life and corals. The sea is the habitat of over 1,000 invertebrate species, and 200 soft and hard corals. It is the world's northernmost tropical sea.

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Red Sea Dolphins

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Dolphins are marine mammals closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera. They vary in size from 1.2 m and 40 kg (Maui's dolphin), up to 9.5 m and 10 tonnes (the orca or killer whale). They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, eating mostly fish and squid. The family Delphinidae is the largest in the Cetacean order, and evolved relatively recently, about ten million years ago, during the Miocene.

Dolphins are among the most intelligent animals, and their often friendly appearance, an artifact of the "smile" of their mouthline, and seemingly playful attitude have made them very popular in human culture.

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Red Sea Name

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Red Sea is a direct translation of the Greek Erythra Thalassa and Latin Mare Rubrum (alternatively Sinus Arabicus, literally "Arabian Gulf"), Arabic Al-Bahr Al-Ahmar or Bahr Al-Qalzam, Somali Badda Cas and Tigrinya. The name of the sea may signify the seasonal blooms of the red-coloured Trichodesmium erythraeum near the water's surface. A theory favored by some modern scholars is that the name red is referring to the direction South, just as the Black Sea's name may refer to North. The basis of this theory is that some Asiatic languages used color words to refer to the cardinal directions. Herodotus on one occasion uses Red Sea and Southern Sea interchangeably.

Some ancient geographers called the Red Sea the Arabian Gulf or Gulf of Arabia.

The association of the Red Sea with the Biblical account of the Israelite Crossing the Red Sea is ancient, and was made explicit in the Septuagint translation of the Book of Exodus from Hebrew to Koine Greek in approximately the third century B.C. In that version, the Hebrew Yam Suph is translated as Erythra Thalassa (Red Sea). (See also the more recent suggestion that the Yam Suph of the Exodus refers to a Sea of Reeds). The Red Sea is one of four seas named in English after common color terms — the others being the Black Sea, the White Sea and the Yellow Sea. The direct rendition of the Greek Erythra thalassa in Latin as Mare Erythraeum refers to the north-western part of the Indian Ocean, and also to a region on Mars.

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Red Sea Scorpaenidae

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Scorpaenidae, the scorpionfish, are a family of mostly marine fish that includes many of the world's most venomous species. As the name suggests, scorpionfish have a type of "sting" in the form of sharp spines coated with venomous mucus. The family is a large one, with hundreds of members. They are widespread in tropical and temperate seas, but mostly found in the Indo-Pacific. They should not be confused with the cabezones, of the genus Scorpaenichthys, which belong to a separate, though related family, Cottidae.

Some types, such as the lionfish, are attractive as well as dangerous, and highly desired for aquaria. In addition to the name scorpionfish, informal names for family members include "firefish", "turkeyfish", "dragonfish", and "stingfish", usually with adjectives added.

General characteristics of family members include a compressed body, ridges and/or spines on the head, one or two spines on the operculum, and three to five spines on the preopercle. The dorsal fin will have 11 to 17 spines, often long and separated from each other, and the pectoral fins will be well-developed, with 11 to 25 rays. The spines of the dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins all have venom glands at their bases.

Most species are bottom-dwellers that feed on crustaceans and smaller fish. Many inhabit shallow waters, but a few live as deep as 2,200 metres. Most Scorpionfish, such as the stonefish, wait in disguise for prey to pass them by before swallowing, while lionfish often ambush their prey. When not ambushing, lionfish may herd the fish, shrimp, or crab in to a corner before swallowing. Scorpionfish feed by opening their mouth, then their gills a fraction of a second apart, creating suction. Stripers, grouper, bass, snook, frogfish, toadfish, sculpin, etc., also feed this way, but the scorpionfish, toadfish and sculpins are the only members of this group that have jaw teeth.

Scorpaenid systematics are complicated and unsettled. Fishes of the World recognizes 10 subfamilies with a total of 388 species, while (as of 2006) FishBase follows Eschmeyer and has 3 subfamilies, 25 genera, and 201 species, some of the species being removed to family Sebastidae which other authorities do not follow.

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Red Sea Manta ray

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The genus Manta contains two species of manta rays: the reef manta ray (Manta alfredi) and the giant oceanic manta ray (Manta birostris), which are the largest species of the rays in the family Mobulidae, and the largest rays in the world. Oceanic mantas reach at least 7 metres in width and there are anecdotal reports of even larger specimens, while reef mantas reach about 5.5 metres in width.

Manta rays are circumglobal and are typically found in tropical and subtropical waters, although oceanic manta rays can move into temperate waters. Oceanic mantas reside in deep water, pelagic zones, making periodic visits to cleaning stations at seamounts and coastal reefs. Minimal concrete information exists on oceanic manta movements, but they are generally believed to be more transient and migratory than the smaller reef mantas, which tend to be resident in shallower coastal habitats.

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Red Sea Sharks

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Sharks are a group of fish characterized by a cartilaginous skeleton, five to seven gill slits on the sides of the head, and pectoral fins that are not fused to the head. Modern sharks are classified within the clade Selachimorpha (or Selachii), and are the sister group to the rays. However, the term "shark" has also been used for extinct members of the subclass Elasmobranchii outside the Selachimorpha, such as Cladoselache and Xenacanthus. Under this broader definition, the earliest known sharks date from more than 420 million years ago.

Since that time, sharks have diversified into over 470 species. They range in size from the small dwarf lanternshark (Etmopterus perryi), a deep sea species of only 17 centimetres in length, to the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), the largest fish in the world, which reaches approximately 12 metres. Sharks are found in all seas and are common down to depths of 2,000 metres. They generally do not live in freshwater although there are a few known exceptions, such as the bull shark and the river shark, which can survive in both seawater and freshwater. They breathe through five to seven gill slits. Sharks have a covering of dermal denticles that protects their skin from damage and parasites in addition to improving their fluid dynamics. They also have several sets of replaceable teeth.

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