The ocean needs nutrients in the same way a garden would need fertilizers. Nutrients help the ocean to flourish and feed the creatures that live in it. The life and death cycle of many marine creatures will create nutrients.
Some nutrients are introduced through that while others are gained through the air or ocean currents. These 15 Importance of Nutrients in the Ocean will give you more insight on their uses. See how complex their relationships are with the marine ecosystem.
1. Help Phytoplankton to Grow
Nutrients can help phytoplankton to grow. The nutrients that they need the most in the ocean are phosphorus and nitrogen. If these nutrients are absent from the ocean water, then the phytoplankton will slowly die out. However, too much of them can also become toxic. The ocean needs to have a good balance to keep phytoplankton alive.
2. Give Energy to Phytoplankton
Phytoplankton produces their food through the process of photosynthesis. Other than that, they also consume nutrients. Phytoplankton needs both organic and inorganic nutrients. They act similar to how fertilisers help to keep plants alive. In case a condition is limiting phytoplankton to carry out photosynthesis, they can can still rely on the nutrients.
3. Create Food Web
Nutrients contribute to the marine food web. Plants and algae heavily rely on nutrients to help them survive. But once those creatures die, their bodies will become deteriorate. The nutrients that they once used will be dissolved in the ocean water. Zooplankton may also eat them to help dissolve the nutrients.
4. Increase Fish Production
Fish production can increase through the food web that is started by the main producer, phytoplankton. Nutrients keep them growing and so the zooplankton can eat them too. In turn, fish can consume the zooplankton. The population will flourish and increase. Shellfish such as oysters, scallops and clams will also have a healthy population.
5. Shells for Shellfish
Shellfish include creatures such as crabs, lobsters, clams, oysters, scallops, mussels and shrimps. Their bodies have hard shells that often protect their delicate flesh. Nutrients actually help to make that shell stronger. Without the appropriate amount of nutrient, they will have difficulty in creating tough outer body.
Upwelling is the process when deep ocean water rises up to the surface. At the same time, the surface water is brought down. These waters contain many useful nutrients. They help keep the area to have highly reproductive creatures. With a lot of nutrients in circulation, everybody can gain something that will help them live in the ocean.
7. Maintain Marine’s Variety
There are hundreds of thousands different species living in the ocean with the help of nutrients. Each has their own role to maintain the wellbeing of the ocean but most importantly, each makes the marine to be diverse. The marine’s variety is an important thing as it helps in studying the environment, interactions or the existence of other unknown creatures.
8. Helps Marine Reproduction
Marine creatures need certain conditions in order to produce their young ones. They also have to be right. Too much or too little nutrients might make them to swim into other parts of the ocean that will provide the right condition. The right amount of nutrients will make them well enough to replenish the population.
9. Produce Healthy Ecosystems
Nutrients create healthy ecosystems in the ocean. Almost all living marine creatures need them. There are numerous ways the nutrients get absorbed into all parts of the ocean too. Without nutrients, the ecosystem will be ruined. For instance, silicon or iron is a nutrient that can prevent blooms which are able to kill marine species.
10. Create Functioning Coral Reefs
Coral reefs are complex. Lack of nutrients can kill them as well as too much of it. The key here striking the right balance. They need the nutrients as they act similar to how fertilisers work. The coral reefs growth are immensely affected by the right level of nutrients. Ammonia is an element that is kept by the corals as nutrient.
11. Slows Down Global Warming
Carbon is one of the biggest contributors of global warming. Phytoplankton can absorb most of it as long as they receive nutrients. Without nutrients, the current rate of the global warming would be faster.
Currently, new research in geoengineering is used to study the effect of introducing more nutrients such as iron to slow down global warming. You might also want to know other ways on How to Reduce Global Warming Effects in Ocean.
12. Maintain Regular Climate
Apparently, there are around 15% of carbon stored in the deepest parts of the ocean. Nutrients maintain the healthiness of the ocean and every living thing inside it. They ensure that the ocean can still carry out its number one ability which is absorbing most of the toxic gases left in the air.
Remineralization often happens in the surface water. When phytoplankton die, they release all their nutrients back into the water. As zooplankton feed on them, they also release the organic materials into the ocean. The nutrients are used by others to carry out photosynthesis.
14. Reduce Carbon Dioxide in Air
Carbon dioxide are harmful gases in the air. But phytoplankton can absorb them which reduces the amount left in the atmosphere. As the phytoplankton decompose, the carbon dioxide is not released into the air. Most are trapped in the ocean. This whole process helps to keep the gas from being reintroduced into the air.
15. Healthy Growth for Diatoms
Diatoms are crucial microalgae as they are the producers in the food web. To make their cell walls, they need a huge amount of nutrients such as silica. When growing in the right condition, diatoms can multiply quickly. A huge population will mean that the ocean will become more reproductive and liveable.
The biggest concern for nutrients in the ocean right now is when there’s too many of them. Pollution caused by humans can overwhelm the ocean with nutrients. Continuous exposure will kill the ocean. It’s important to realise how we should always rethink our action to limit harm to the oceans.