A Guide to Ocean Habitats

There are various ocean habitats that the planet earth has. This is because the earth is only 29% land and 71% water. These habitats nurture specific living things and therefore allow them to grow and flourish. These organisms have the ability to adapt to their habitats; hence you can conclude that creatures are sometimes products of man’s environmental practices. Ocean habitats can generally be classified into two: the pelagic and demersal.

The pelagic habitat refers to where the tide reaches and extends up to the continental shelf, which is away from the ocean’s bottom. The pelagic habitat, on the other hand, involves beyond the continental shelf or near the ocean’s bottom. A more detailed guide would be to divide ocean habitats into the following:

1. Pelagic or limnetic Zone

This is the open water of the ocean where there is reduced light penetration; hence photosynthesis produces oxygen which is just sufficient for the organism’s respiratory needs.  Nektons and planktons survive in this zone. These habitats are dependent upon the ocean currents.

The pelagic zone is further subdivided into the mesopelagic, bathypelagic and abyssopelagic zones. Mesopelagic is shallow up to 200 meters, bathypelagic is from 1,000 meters to 4,000 meters, and abyssopelagic from 4,000 meters and deeper.

2. Oceanic Zone

These are waters not included in the continental shelf. The depth is usually more than 200 meters.  All of the lighted zones are included in this region.

3. Neritic Zone

This includes coastal waters over the shelves, which are shallow and near the shore. Because sunlight can penetrate easily, various benthic organisms survive. The temperatures are also stable, with more oxygen that supports various marine organisms like zooplankton and phytoplankton.  Fish and shrimps are supported by this zone.

4. Benthic zones

These include the littoral zone and the continental shelf. The littoral zone is the area between high tide and 100 meters deep of ocean water. Benthic organisms live in this zone as well, because it is the lowermost zone which sunlight can penetrate. The zone can be subdivided into the littoral, which is well lit, and the abyssal in which light barely penetrates the zone. It is in the well-lit portion, the benthic littoral region, that most marine life are supported by the ecosystem.

Ocean habitats are diverse as the plants and animals they nurture and support. Learning about them would enlighten your mind to the life beyond the terra firma that you stand on, and create an awareness of these essential facts of marine life and survival.