HomeSea Life CreaturesMarine Animals › Vertebrates

Examples of Marine Vertebrates

The "backbone of the animal kingdom" is a simple way to describe aquatic vertebrates - because all vertebrate sea animals have a spine (a column of bones) and a skeleton.

This section contains facts and information about the 81,000 living species within the subphylum Vertebrata, along with a comprehensive list of marine vertebrates examples.

Marine Vertebrates that Live in the Oceans

A marine vertebrate is any animal within the classification of "Kingdom Animalia" belonging to the sub phylum "Vertebrata".

The group includes more than 60,000 species of the "Phylum Chordata" (meaning animals with backbones).

But, living examples of marine vertebrates make up seven structurally complex superclass organisms (amphibians, reptiles, mammals, birds, bony fish, sharks, and rays).

Extant aquatic vertebrates (e.g. still surviving) range in size from the 7.7 mm microhylid frog to the thirty three (33) metre blue whale.

Vertebrates account for approximately 5% of all classifications of animal species - the others make up the marine invertebrates list (without a backbone).

All vertebrates - marine life included - have an interior skeleton structure; sometimes as traditional bone; others as cartilage; and some with a mixture of both.

World Register of Marine Species

The main aim of the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) is to provide us with an authoritative classification and catalogue of marine names. Their current data lists around 250,000 checked and accepted marine species.

According to WoRMS, the classifications for marine vertebrates fall under the Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, and Subphylum Vertebrata. There are four (4) main marine superclasses:

  1. Agnatha (jawless fishes)
  2. Gnathostomata
  3. Pisces (bony fishes)
  4. Tetrapoda

Superclasses Agnatha and Pisces both represent a form of fish. Agnatha contains one hundred and five species of jawless fish (e.g. hagfish, lampreys).

The superclass Pisces contains more than 27,000 species of bony fishes. They include:

Other important marine classes fall under the superclass Tetrapoda, including Class Aves (birds), Class Mammalia (all mammals), and Class Reptilia (reptiles).

List of Vertebrates in the Oceans

Even though different groups range in biodiversity, population, size, and shape, here are some common examples of sea animals that are vertebrate:

Related Information and Help Guides

Note: The main index section contains further information about sea life creatures with extra details about the threats they face from climate change and overfishing.

Divers also enjoyed reading about...