In Disney's classic, "The Little Mermaid," Princess Ariel sacrificed just about everything to marry the dreamy, land-dwelling Prince Eric, proving to an entire generation that love just might conquer the thrill of aquatic living. Like a number of other Disney-manufactured myths, we contest the moral of this story, because we think Ariel made a mistake of oceanic proportions when she left behind her underwater kingdom.
In our humble, oxygen-dependent opinion, pretty much everything is infinitely more awesome down in the deep blue sea (and oceans!). Need proof?
1. In the ocean, even the tiniest, simplest creatures are impossibly cool.
This tiny flatworm's body is too thin to accommodate a respiratory system! Sure, we have insects, but they don't have those kinda moves.
2. And the nerdiest individuals have Superman-like capabilities.
This "spookfish" from the Winteria Telescopa species, has a toothless mouth and binocular-sized eyes. While this made it very difficult for them to fit in as a teenager, their funny appearance gives them unbelievably sharp vision.
3. Sexual politics are very progressive in some circles.
Male seahorses hold babies in a cute "brood pouch."
That's Dad, letting a shoal of little baby seahorses into the world for the very first time! Here are some fathers-to-be kickin' it at the seahorse paternity ward:
Nothing like being raised by parents who are hip about gender!
4. You're always discovering more beauty and wonder.
The world is your Pacific-Ocean sized oyster! Seals, or "pinnipeds," are born and nursed on land. When they're ready, they'll enter the water, where they'll eventually learn to dive up to 2,000 feet down, stay under for up to 45 minutes and be pretty darn cute.
5. You make new friends everyday!
You're not imagining it -- this dolphin really likes you!
Dolphins love to socialize and play together and splash around. And if dolphins are too cuddly and sweet for you, don't worry! You have plenty of other options: Between 700,000 and one million species live in the world's oceans, and scientists estimate that between one-third and two-thirds of those species have not yet even been named! Perfect excuse to introduce yourself!
6. Plus, your new buddies don't even judge your gross eating habits.
These starfish bros are sharing the wealth of a dead seal with three-foot nemertean worms on the ocean floor. Starfish eat by pushing their stomachs out through their mouths and secreting enzymes that then digest all the goodies. Then, all those nutrients travel into their big ol' starfish guts.
7. Even the cheerleaders are nice enough, as long as you don't get too close.
Pom-pom crabs have an anemone in each claw. But beware -- they're not doing that dance for school spirit. They use these anemones to sting would-be predators, and to mop up food off of rocks.
8. It's easy to avoid potentially awkward encounters.
The octopus' art of camouflage is especially useful on bad hair days, or when you want to avoid making eye contact with your crush. An ocotpus can match the color, pattern and texture of its surroundings instantaneously, despite being colorblind. This, presumably, also makes for epic games of hide and seek.
9. The ocean's plenty crowded, but it's never too hard to divert traffic.
If you're at the top of the food chain like this shark, that is. Despite having razor sharp teeth, sharks eat their food in huge, gulping chunks.
10. That said, even the smaller creatures have creative ways to avoid unpleasant company.
This sea anemone had dinner plans with his starfish buddy -- then he realized he was the main course. It's hard to run away when you're a sea anemone. The skeleton-free, primarily sedentary sea animal moves by flexing and twisting its body.
11. If nothing else, come for the jellyfish.
The true eye candy of the sea. But don't get too close, they might be hungry:
After a quick snack, they're once again, absolutely mesmerizing.
Pretty much all jelly fish look magical, but one type of jellyfish might even be immortal.
12. You'll never get bored of all the goofy characters dancin' around the neighborhood.
Actually -- call us nostalgic, but this shrimp's melodious movements call to mind that very special ode to the ocean floor ... and we think you know which one we're talking about:
All that's missing is the Disney soundtrack. And the talking crab. Use your imagination! Or don't: After all, long before animators gave the ocean floor that special Disney flair, the real deep blue beyond offered enough magic and beauty to entrance generations.