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Saguenay–St.Lawrence Marine Park

Bottom Layer

Illustration of the bottom layer of the water column. On the right, a rock wall covered with starfish, sea urchins green, anemones, a sea cucumber and crabs. In the water, a shoal of Atlantic cod. Atlantic Cod Sea Cucumber Green Sea Urchin Starfish Crab Anemone

Green Sea Urchin

Green Sea Urchin

Kingdom: Animal
Division: Invertebrate
Classification: Echinoderm (bears podia)
Types of urchins in the marine park: only one

Description: Diameter: 80 millimetres. Thickness: 38 millimetres. Warning: Covered with spines! Known as the "Sea Porcupine ". Mouth located on its stomach. 5 fine white teeth are used to graze algae on rocks.

Habitat: On rocky sea bottoms and kelp beds (algae) at depths up to 50 metres.

Population: Very abundant in the St. Lawrence Estuary.

Movement: Uses tube feet tipped with suckers called "podia". Can travel up to 5 metres a day.

Feeding habits: Feeds almost exclusively on kelp (algae) or occasionally on dead animals (crabs).

Reproduction: In the spring and fall, it lays eggs that develop in larvae.  

Did you know? Edible species have a bitter taste and are mostly eaten in Asian countries.

Urchin fishing is relatively new and only small quantities have been caught. Therefore, it can be said that the population is doing well and in no way threatened for the time being.





Kingdom: animal
Division: Invertebrate
Classification: Echinoderm (bears podia)
Types of starfish species in the marine park: 16 species

Description:  Starfish usually have 5 arms stemming from a central disc. Some species can have up to 14 arms. Covered with spines which make its skin rough.

Dimensions: Vary greatly from one species to another.

Habitat:  On every rocky or sandy sea floor.

Population:  The St. Lawrence Estuary's sea floor is literally covered with starfish of various colours.

Reproduction:  Lays eggs that it protects with its body and by rolling up its arms into a spiral.

Feeding habits: Shell fish such as blue mussels. Certain species eat other starfish.

Movement: Each arm has rows of tube feet tipped with suckers called "podia" that are used to hold on to surfaces or move around. 

Did you know? Certain species of starfish have the ability to grow back arms if necessary (when attacked by a predator, for example). The process usually takes no more than a month. 

REMEMBER: For starfish, protecting their eggs is an important part of the survival of the species. Consequently, the presence of humans (scuba diving, fishing, etc.) can greatly disturb this essential process. 





Kingdom: Animal
Division: Invertebrate
Types of anemone species in the marine park: The northern red anemone and frilled anemone are the most populous.

Description: Clear resemblance with the flower bearing the same name. No eyes, ears, or brain. The mouth is at the centre of a disc and lined with tentacles. The latter are used to catch its prey, and close up to bring food to its mouth and digest it.

Dimensions: comes in many sizes.

Habitat:  Attached to rocks from the lower tidal limit to the depth of many metres.

Population:  Very abundant in the estuary

Reproduction:  Certain species reproduce by splitting in two and then regenerating. As they move, they detach parts from their bodies that stick to the ground and develop into new anemones.

Feeding habits:  Drifting particles (plankton) or small fish depending on the species.

Movement: Can let go of the ground and drift to attach itself somewhere else. It can also stick to the shells of marine animals and remain on its back to move around from one place to another.

Did you know? Certain species have venomous tentacles that paralyse their prey. If ever you touch one of these anemones, you will get a painful rash but will not be harmed in any way.

REMEMBER: Scallops are caught by dragging nets across sea beds, thus destroying the natural habitat of anemones.



Sea Cucumber

Sea Cucumber

Kingdom: Animal
Division: Invertebrate
Classification: Echinoderm (bears podia)

Description:  Greenish-coloured cylinder resembling a cucumber.  Measuring  7 to 10 centimetres long. Mouth located at the end of the body and surrounded by 100 tentacles. The latter are used to capture prey and put them in the mouth.

Habitat:  In the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence, from one end of the Atlantic coast to the other; from Cape Cod down the entire American coastline. On rocky sea floors and at depths exceeding 350 metres.

Population:  Very abundant in deep waters. 

Feeding habits:  Particles drifting in water (plankton).

Movement: Uses tube feet tipped with suckers called "podia". Buries itself completely in the sand (except for the mouth).

Did you know? Inhabitants of Asian countries enjoy eating a well prepared sea cucumber. 

REMEMBER: Scallops are caught by dragging nets across sea beds, thus destroying the natural habitat of sea cucumbers.



Atlantic Cod

Atlantic Cod

Kingdom: Animal
Division: Vertebrate
Classification: Fish

Description:  Weighs from 2 to 3 kilograms; measures between 60 and 70 centimetres. Slender body with colours that vary from brown to green or grey with small black spots on the back. It has 3 back fins and 2 pelvic fins, and only one well-developed chin moustache called a "barbel".

Habitat:  Cold sea waters. The cod in the Gulf of St. Lawrence spend the winter near Newfoundland, where they form immense shoals. 

Population: Has been fished for centuries. Its population has plummeted due to overfishing, changes in its habitat, and predators such as the seal. Over the past 30 years, it has declined by approximately 80 %.

Life expectancy: 4 to 8 years.

Reproduction:  In the spring, codfish reproduce offshore in depths reaching 250 and 300 metres. Females can spawn between 2 and 11 million eggs, which float in the water column and feed numerous types of fish.

Feeding habits: Young codfish feed off invertebrates and shrimp. Adult codfish eat capelin, herring, and sand lance and various other types of fish, mollusks, crustaceans and even sea anemones.

Did you know? Only one out of a million eggs will grow into an adult cod!

REMEMBER: Atlantic cod is an endangered species mainly because of overfishing. Today, even sport fishing will have a serious impact on an already low population.





Kingdom: Animal
Classification: Crustacean
Order of species in the marine park: decapods (10 legs)
Types of crab species in the marine park: rock crab, snow crab, spider crab

Description:  The body is covered by a very solid shell and has 5 pairs of legs, the first of which has claws. When a crab sheds, it abandons its shell and grows a new one.

Habitat:  It prefers to remain in deep waters but can come to the surface too. Crabs hide under rocks or bury themselves up to their eyes. The spider crab covers itself with shells and sponges to conceal itself.

Population:  Abundant.

Reproduction:  Male spider crabs snatch females and carry them around until they are ready for mating.

Movement:  Curiously, crabs move sideways. 

Feeding habits: feeding day or night, crabs clean sea floors and mostly eat dead fish. 

Did you know? The zodiacal sign of Cancer is represented by a rock crab.

REMEMBER: Scallops are caught by dragging nets across sea beds, thus destroying everything, including the natural habitat of crabs.