Ocean is the vast water body of the earth. It makes up two third of the whole scope of the earth as mentioned in characteristics of ocean levels. The ocean itself is divided into 5 oceans, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic, and Southern. The classification of the ocean also based on the location of it compared to the mainland. One of the most productive type of ocean is coastal ocean.
Coastal ocean is the water site located above the continental shelf. It is known to be the habitats of so many marine organisms. Coastal ocean is not the type of ocean that can be found in all parts of the world. It certainly has its own characteristics compared to typical ocean. Here are the general characteristics of coastal ocean.
- Low Salinity Surface
The salinity of the coastal ocean tends to be low. The location of the ocean is the one that plays part in making the water less salty than the usual sea. It is located nearer to the land and it is usually the open gate where the river water discharge. The river water mixed with the sea and eventually decreases the salinity.
The salinity may elevate if the weather is humid and more evaporation occurs than precipitation. Regardless, the water in ocean level is not as salty as other types of oceans. To know more about the benefit of salinity, read Common Use of Salinity in Ocean
- Generally Shallow
Coastal ocean is nearer to the coastline and it makes the sea level generally more shallow compared to the mid ocean. It is known for its rich coral reef and is home to so many species. The surface of the ocean also has lighter reflection because the sunlight can reach through its shallow depth.
However, not all coastal ocean is shallow, the coastal ocean that does not have coast line or one that is only surrounded with cliff is deeper then the common coastal ocean. Still, the sea level is not any deeper than the ocean with no land or coastline.
- Home of Many Species
Since sunlight can reach through the deepest level of the sea, oxygen can enter the sea and it makes coastal ocean a lively place to live for many species. The river water discharge also brings a lot of food for them. Thus, it becomes an ideal types of ocean habitats. The food chain in this marine ecosystem mostly consist of small to medium size species.
The good thing about this is most of the species living in coastal ocean is beneficial for human. Most of the fish are edible or economically valuable. Therefore, coastal ocean has been one of the most biologically productive seas.
- Frequent Tide
The depth of the water helps the ocean to be less resistance to the wind. Thus, the part of ocean with deepest level tends to be calmer than coastal ocean. Coastal ocean often is smaller in volume and shallow in depth and the blowing wind will easily causes tide or wave. The wave or tide itself is not of a strong one unless it is the case of cyclone or tsunami.
The tides are utilized by fisherman when they want to depart to the open sea to fish. The movement of ocean water is often strong in early morning and that is why many fishermen take the opportunity to use the force for their fishing boat. This frequent tide generally is a character of coastal ocean.
- Makes Up 7 Percent in Total
The coastal ocean is more accessible for human yet little do they know that the coastal only makes up 7 percent of the total ocean. The coastal ocean directly connected to the land as it is above the shelf continent. Whereas most of the ocean are open seas that fill the empty spots on the earth.
The coastal ocean consists only of the water body that has coastline. It means it is only found when the sea is directly linked to the land. Thus, the coastal ocean only makes up the 7 percent of the total ocean while the open sea is 71 percent which is a great difference.
- Diverse Coral Reefs
Being in touch with the open sea and river’s discharge makes the mineral washed down to the farther sea. Because of this, coral reefs grow richly in coastal ocean. A sea with too much mineral often makes coral reef hard to grow as the habitat will be full of algae.
However as coastal ocean is not only less salty but also clearer from the algae, the coral reefs grow diversely. As a result, other species also revolve around them as many fish and other marine organisms make coral reef as their habitat.
- Various Temperature
The temperature of each coastal ocean differs as it depends on the land nearest to them. The coordinate of the location also affects the temperature. Coastal ocean in equator location tend to have warmer and humid temperature. It is because the place that falls on equator line gets sun exposure throughout the year.
The coastal ocean in the subtropical to those nearer the arctic is colder with occasional ice forming in it. This makes various temperatures.
- Hollow Arch
The coastal ocean naturally has hollowed out arch resulting from erosion and slow dissolution. The cavity created makes the coastline form a curved shape and it is generally the characteristics of all coastal ocean.
The hollowed out arch also make the coastline shape become irregular. The hollow arch often also becomes the home of marine organism.
- Has Tombolo
Tombolo is a ridge of sand that joined the shoreline to an island. In other words, it is the border of the two sites. The tombolo is located nearer to the sea than the main island.
As the name suggests, tombolo is made of the collected sand that connects the main land to the sea. It is mostly created from abrasion and sedimentation. Not every shoreline has tombolo but in general, the coastline that has coastal ocean has it.
- Has River Estuary
As mentioned before, the coastal ocean often meets with the water discharge from river. As a result, it forms what called as river estuary. River estuary is an indentation formed by the tides to the mouth of the river. The indentation occurs as the tides bring along the salty sea water to the mouth of the river along with other materials.
It is a general characteristic of coastal ocean as mostly the shoreline has at least one non-sea water site connected to the ocean.
- Has Lagoon
Another water site that can be found in coastal ocean is lagoon. Lagoon is small and often shallow water side that has the sand ridge or cliff separated it from the ocean. The lagoon actually also consists of sea water but it can also be a little brackish since the water from precipitation is also stored there.
- Higher Turbidity
Coastal ocean having directly in contact with river makes the turbidity in this site faster and more various if it is compared to the open sea. The river whose final flow goes to the coastal ocean often bring suspended sediments and it certainly affects the water flow in the sea while open ocean is more constant.
- Flow Parallel to The Shore
The flow of the sea is parallel to the shore. Its wave is facing in and out the coastline. Also the sea line follows the line of the coast. This is mainly because of the nature of water that flows to the lower shelf and is changeable depend on the shape of the line.
Therefore, the flow of the sea water follows the shape and the direction of the shore
- Land of Biomass
Coastal ocean is high in nutrients and it attracts many living organisms. Those living organism can in turn be a source of biomass, especially the dead one. Biomass is a source of energy that is extracted from organism. Biomass is highly beneficial for human.
The location of the biomass site may not be so close to the coast but it is often is still in the scope of coastal ocean. Most coastal ocean has it, making it general characteristic of coastal ocean.
- Has Stack
Another general characteristic of coastal ocean is the fact that stack may be grow in the sea. It is called as a stack that resulted from the collapsed arch. It usually has needle-like shape that point out to the sky. The stack is often positioned nearer to the cave and it stood like a tower while there is no other sand surrounding it.
Not every coastal has it. It is mostly found in the area where curved arch exist in the shore.
Other general characteristics of coastal ocean are:
- Mostly has Sandy land called Beach
- Home of plankton
- Rocky island (Islet)
- Has head land (Strip of land that jotting out to the sea)
- Has sand dune
- Has Underground cave
- Home of sea amphibi such as tortoise shell
- The final site of sediments
- High chance of algal bloom
- Dominated by local winds
The coastal ocean turns out to be more familiar than people in general think. People in general often only knowing about beach but it is actually more than that. Indeed, there are 25 general characteristics of coastal ocean.
Read also: Characteristics of Ocean Environment