Ecosystem is a community and the interaction of living and non living things in an area. This interactions creates dependency on each other. Aquatic ecosystems is an ecosystems in a body of water. There are two main types of aquatic ecosystems, which are ocean or marine ecosystems and freshwater ecosystems.
Freshwater ecosystems divide into three types, there are Lentic, Lotic and Wetlands. Lentic is slow moving water, include pools, ponds and lakes. Lotic is more faster moving water such as streams and river. The last one is wetland, which refers to areas where the soil is saturated or inundated for at least part of the time.
Ocean ecosystem is one of the largest Earth’s aquatic ecosystems. It covers approximatelt 70% of Earth surface and contains more than 95% of the planet’s water. Needless to say marine ecosystems takes a huge part in our life. The different between marine ecosystems and freshwater ecosystems is the disolved materials in seawater which are sodium and chlorine. Marine ecosystems distinguished from each other by many zones depending on the water depth and shoreline features.
There are like 5 different zones in marine ecosystems, which are :
- The oceanic zone – habitats of ocean animal such as whales, sharks and tuna live
- The benthic zone – areas where invertebrates lives
- The intertidal zone – it’s basically an area between high and low tides. It is also called the littoral zone\
- Neritic zones (near shore) – Estuaris, salt marshes, coral reefs, lagoons, and mangrove swamps are belongs to neritic zones
- Deep water – hydrothermal vents possibly occur where chemosynthetic sulfur bacteria form the base of food web
Now we are going to talk one by one about some of the marine ecosystems :
- The abyssal plain
The abyssal plain means extensive featureless region of the deep ocean floor. It is contained deep wind blown dust, volcanic ash, chemical precipitates, and occasional meteorite fragments in the deep ocean floor. The thick blanket of sediment that covers most areas of the surface is the main cause of the lack features.
The abyssal plain contain varying amount of iron, nickel, cobalt and copper. They are more common and widespread in the Atlantic ocean and Indian Ocean. It covered like 40% of all ocean floor. It has collected specimens such as unusual looking fish, worms and clam like creatures.
Fjord are long, narrow, deep bodies of water along the coasts of formerly glaciated areas. It’s distribute in polar temperate to polar latitudes of the North Atlantic, North Pacific and South Pacific Oceans. It serves fisheries, ecotourism, aquaculture and artisanal hunting to ecosystems. Killer whales, seals, salmon, cold-water corals and sea anemones are its keytone species.
3. Coral reefs
Coral reef is a rocky ocean features made up of millions of coral skeleton. According to Smithsonian Institute, there are over 500,000 separate species contained in coral reef worldwide. This particular ecosystems provides food and shelter to the highest levels of marine diversity in the world. Increase your knowledge by read Causes of Coral Reef Destruction
4. The deep sea
According to deep water ecologist Tony Koslow, deep see defined as the area below which photosynthesis can function. It means that anything below about 600 feet or 200 meters is considered the deep sea. Deep ocean ecosystems has various types of life characters and conditions.
There’s the Mesopelagic zone or the Twilight zones where creatures such as organism have adaptations to see and keep from being seen, yet the light in this zone is not enough to fuel photosynthesis. There is also the Bathypelagic Zone, it is the area where light no longer penetrates the water and marked by its very low temperature about 5 or 6 degrees Celsius. The last one is the Abyssopelagic zone or the bottomless sea. It is marked by darkness and uniform environmental condition.
- Deep Hydrothermal vents
Deep hydrotermal vents distribution is basically worldwide and particularly at the edges of tectonic plates. It’s physical characters are extremely deep, low energy and low nutrient waters in tectonically active areas. Its ecosystem services are as the potential source of bio products like medicine and other natural compound. See also ocean relief
- Kelp forest
Kelp forest is an underwater habitat filled with tall seaweeds known as kelp. Kelp look very similar like ocean plants but it is actually extremely large brown algae. Its distribution is worldwide in temperate to polar latitudes. Its has physical characteristic such as cold, shallow, nutrient rich and medium-energy water. Read more about Types of Kelp
Kelp forest takes place in ecosystem services for fisheries, ecotourism and kelp-bio product. It has also become keystone species for Sea Urchins, Rockfishers, Sea otters and Seals.
- Mangroves Forest
Mangrove forest has worldwide distribution, particularly in tropical to warm temperate latitudes. It is shallow, brackish, nutrient rich and low energy waters. It is very beneficial to marine ecosystems, which are being juvenile habitat for fisheries species, carbon storage, coastal protection and firewood.
- Open ocean
Open ocean contains clear physical characteristic, often nutrient-poor water and located far from shores. Its special species are tuna, seabirds, dolphins, billfishes, flyingfishes, jellyfishes, deep-sea fishes. Its ecosystem service mainly for fisheries, oxygen production and climate regulation.
- Rocky and Sandy shores
Rocky and Sandy shores distribute worldwide in all latitudes. It’s physical characteristic is extremely high energy and located coastal waters. It’s main service is as coastal protection and especially to keystone species such as sea stars, mussels, barnacles, limpets and other marine snails.
- Intertidal Mudflats & Sandflats
Mudflats is a coastal wetland formed as rivers or tides deposit sediment. Intertidal mudflats and sandflats are submerged at high tide an exposed at low tide. The high biomass of invertebrates in the mudflats is an important food source for diverse range and large number of fish and benthic predators.
Estuarine is mouth of a river where the river’s current meets the sea’s tide. Salt marshes, seagrass meadows and mangrove forest are a few estuarines that the most productive ecosystems on the planet.
Beach is spread worldwide in all latitudes. It serves ecotourism, tradinional tourism and fisheries to the moderately high energy coastal waters. Its keystone species are sea oats, shorebirds, soft-bottom fishes and sand dollars. It has been benefical and important both to human and marine ecosystems.
- Sea turtle and reptiles
Sea turtles considered ancient animal species, because it have been around since the time of the dinosaurs. Sea turtles has served many things to ocean ecosystems but it already face potential extinction. There has been many campaign to protect sea turtles from death as bycatch, habitat degradation and other issues. You may want to read about Endangered Sea Turtles List
Dinoflagellates are unicellular protist with a great diversity of forms. This creatures play huge role and deliver big impact on marine environment. They are mostly photosynthetic and creates their own food through sunlight and yet profiding food source for other organis. Some dinoflagellates shines their own light through bioluminescence, it’s the same thing that makes firefles glows. However some species may becoma a parasite on fish and other protists as well.
- Ocean Fishes
It has been studied that there are more than 20,000 species of fish in the entire ocean. It comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and lives in different depths and temperature. Fish are most likely to be a very vital components of marine ecosystems and habitats. It is complexly related to many organism and a part of very basic food web and organism. Its entire biological communities lies on health sea habitat.
Alongside with fish, seabirds also belongs to marine ecosystems. They’re basically depends on healthy ocean for food and its life itself. There are a lot of types of seabirds and each serves differently to ocean ecosystems. They come in all shapes and sizes, and some cant even fly and it play a vital role in marine ecosystems. One of the seabirds is the emperor penguins. Emperor penguins lives in sub polar latitudes in the southern hemisphere and nest on beaches and rocky shores.
- Sharks and rays
Researcher have established that the basic structure of the ocean ecosystems is fish. Shark itself have played a vital role on maintaining and balancing healthy ocean for hundreds of centuries as a top of predator. From great white sharks to hammerhead sharks, this species have more than 450 types around the world. The awareness of shark and rays importance in the open ocean is very low and that makes one in four shark are threatened with extinction or end up in the global fin trade. Read more about Facts of Sharks
The ocean ecosystems requires more attention with its balance of landscape because the amount of salt water is greater than the amount of fresh water. Its various life forms has distinct characteristics. It is different in each of the five major ocean basins, which are the Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific, Southern, and the Indian Ocean. Countless life forms exist in ocean ecosystems cycle