Taxonomy involves the scientific classification of organisms. When considering the classification of organisms in the ocean, the same process is used that classifies other organisms.
Invention and improvements in taxonomy
Taxonomy, as used today, was invented in Carl Linnaeus. Several of his systems are still used, although Linnaeus invented them in the 18th century. So that the names would be recognizable to all, Linnaeus decided to use Latin, which was the “language of all learned men at that time,” according to “Biological Diversity: Classification.” By using a system based on Latin, which was familiar to scientists worldwide, those scientists could communicate clearly, even though they spoke different languages. The two-word Latin naming system is called binomial nomenclature. Although there have been updates to the system developed by Linnaeus, his system is still the basis of classifications, including that of ocean organisms.
General Groupings of Ocean Organisms
Classification starts with the most general and ends with the most specific taxonomic grouping. There are eight general groupings, with some subgroups being included for the purpose of accuracy. The eight general groupings are: Domain, Kingdom, Phylum (plants), Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. Domain classification is added when Kingdom is not general enough. There are still other classifications that can be added if more detail is needed beyond subgroups and subspecies classifications.
There are five Kingdoms, which are Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plantae, and finally the Kingdom, Animalia. Of the five Kingdoms, only Monera is made of prokaryotic cells, which do not contain nuclei or organelles that are not surrounded by a membrane. There are identifying factors to the other four Kingdoms as well.
The Blue Whale is used as an example
In explaining the classification of ocean organisms, Marine Bio uses the Blue Whale as an example. The Blue Whale rules the ocean, as it is the largest animal ever known to live on Earth. Blue Whales can reach lengths of up to one-hundred feet long and weight of two-hundred tons or more.
The Blue Whale is of the Kingdom Animalia, as are other whales. Whales are of the Phylum Chordata, due to having a spine and gill pouches. Whales belong to the Class Mammalia, due to being warm-blooded, having a heart which has four chambers and they produce milk to feed their young.
Next is the Order Category. This is where whales begin to be distinguished from other mammals, including humans. Whales are called “cetaceans” due to the fact they reside in the water at all times. Whales belongs to the suborder Mysticeti, because of the baleen plates in their mouths. Blue Whales are divided into the Family Balaenidae. Next, blue whales are of the Genus Balaenoptera. Blue Whales are of the Species Musculus, with the final scientific name being “Balaenoptera musculus,” with the genus capitalized, while the species name in lower case. Both names are italicized.
Determining classification of other ocean organisms
Whether you want to determine the classification of the Blue Whale or other ocean inhabitants, once you are familiar with the classification process, it will be easy to figure out the classification of organisms in the ocean, even though you once may have thought it impossible to do on your own.