As we are all aware, the earth is made up of eco-systems and sub eco-systems. Well so are the oceans. We hear how removing something from an eco-system causes damage and changes, but let’s have a closer look at this from the oceans perspective.
Firstly, the marine eco-systems are the largest of the earth’s eco-systems and include salt marshes, intertidal zones, estuaries, lagoons, mangroves, coral reefs, deep sea, kelp forests and sea floor. Think about it, the oceans cover more than two thirds of the planet, and many will attest to the oceans’ influence. Every day, we are pretty much breathing in the ocean. Irrelevant of whether you stay at the coast or further inland, your life is inexplicably intertwined with the ocean, and its health has a direct impact on human lives!
The ocean plays a role in the patterns of weather that we’ve come to expect, the supplies of fresh water that nourish our crops and reservoirs, and the seafood that is so important to so many, and more than that, it is the source for half of the oxygen that you breathe.
Modern science has connected a healthy marine eco-system to a healthy human existence, so overall health of both marine and terrestrial environments, and only in recent modern history, have we seen that our actions as human beings has and does devastate the marine eco-systems!
“A community and interactions of both living and non-living things in an area.” Is how an eco-system is described. All the water, whether freshwater or salt water is referred to as a hydrosphere, and it’s this that connects all the water the earth over. High salt content, and global circulation make marine eco-systems different from other aquatic eco-systems. Other factors such as geology, temperature, tides, light availability, and geography determine the distribution of marine eco-systems. Marine eco-systems have distinct organisms and characteristics that result from the unique combination of physical factors that create them.
Some marine eco-systems are very productive. Like the near-shore regions, including estuaries, salt marshes, and mangrove forests, these teem with life. Whereas others, like the abyssal plain at the bottom of the ocean, contain only pockets of life that are spread far apart. Some marine eco-systems, like the deep sea, are in constant darkness where photosynthesis cannot occur. Other eco-systems, like rocky shores, go through extreme changes in temperature, light availability, oxygen levels, and other factors on a daily basis. The organisms that inhabit various marine eco-systems are as diverse as the eco-systems themselves and are highly adaptable to the physical conditions of the eco-system in which they live. An example of this would be, organisms that live in the deep sea that have adapted to the darkness by creating their own light source – photophores. These are cells on their bodies that light up to attract prey or potential mates.
Many parts of the ocean remain unexplored and so much still remains to be learned about marine eco-systems, but my question and legitimate concern is; if we continue to explore and investigate these as yet untouched and unspoilt areas, will we not just do what we always do, and create more damage and ultimately ruin what is beautifully and let’s face it, in 100% working order, and has been for millions of years!?
I will continue with the second part to this blog, where we will talk about the importance of the Marine Eco-System, so watch out for that next week.
Till we meet again, keep that toothy grin!
By, Nadine Bentley