Of the life sustaining biomes, water holds the greatest place of importance. The marine biomes include the oceans, coral reefs and estuaries, with the ocean biomes taking the overwhelming place of distinction. The oceans dominate the Earth’s surface, producing the water that converts into rain. The marine and oceanic algae take in much of the atmospheric gases of carbon dioxide and produce much of the atmospheric oxygen that we need in order to survive.
The ocean biome includes the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Arctic, Southern, and a myriad of bays and gulfs. The ocean biome is very salty, containing about a cup of salt per gallon of water.
The ocean biome is classified in ways that might differ, depending on what a particular scientist is studying. Some investigations might be concerned about light and the ways in which life adapts to the decreasing amount of sunlight at increasing oceanic depth. Others might be primarily interested in the benthic zone, which is the bottom of the ocean, where the soil, silt, rock outcrops and coral provide their own biomes for living creatures, either above the bottom or slightly below the soil or silt. Still others might be interested in pressure, as the deeper realms involve incredible pressure, creating challenges to exploration as well as forms of life that are being newly discovered with each expedition to the depths. Others might be focused on mapping the oceans depths and features.
As a result, each of the classical zones of the ocean biome offer whole worlds of information for a variety of studies and endeavors. There are the zones of the ocean biome: The Intertidal Zone, where land and ocean meet. After the Intertidal is the Pelagic Zone, which is referred to as the Open Ocean, or water that is farther away from land.
Below the Pelagic Zone is the Benthic Zone, which is the bottom of the ocean, or the ocean floor. Some classifications of the Benthic Zone do not include the deepest parts of the ocean, having it ending at the next zone, the abyssal zone. Other classifications have the Benthic zone described as any ocean or marine bottom, no matter how deep. In general, this zone supports life that lives on or slightly under the bottom, in coral and aquatic plants, and in rock outcrops. Now, this zone is found to include the volcanic vents where new life forms have been discovered.
The Hadal zone, in some classifications, is considered to be the trenches of the ocean, which can go far deeper than the abyssal zone. With new submarine technology, where machines are engineered to withstand greater pressures, the exploration of the deeps are revealing whole new environments and life forms. The deepest of the Hadal zone is the Mariana Trench, which is, at its lowest point, 36,200 feet deep.
In terms of nutrition, there are surface forms of nutrition that are very rich for living creatures, from plants to insects to mammals to microscopic life forms. Amazingly, the life forms at the depths manage to scavenge from the dead material that filters down from above, even in the smallest quantity. Or, they convert chemicals into biomass that serves as nutrition.
In terms of light, the three main zones are the euphotic, or top layer, where much light penetrates. The disphotic zone has less to very little light, much like twilight on land. In fact it is often called the “twilight zone”. The third zone is the aphotic zone, or deep sea. The aphotic zone is completely dark and very cold. The deep see constitutes the largest biome, or habitat on Earth, with about 80% of all habitats on Earth.
The Ocean biomes are integral to the planet’s weather, with water movement that is based on the circulation of colder and warmer water, and with evaporation which produces the rains, fog and snow that allow life to be sustained on land. As we know, this can be quite a turbulent process that includes storms, high winds, typhoons, hurricanes, mild to massive rain or snowfalls, tidal waves from undersea earthquakes, monsoons, and even atmospheric rivers, where water is taken up in massive quantities and transported high in the atmosphere across vast distances.
With around 1 million species of plants and animals that have been discovered, and an estimated 9 million species that could conceivably exist. As a salty and predominantly cold environment, the life forms have unique forms of surviving. The algae of the oceans produces much of the oxygen that is essential to animal and plant life on land.
Humans are becoming increasingly concerned about the consequences of their activities and interactions with the worlds oceanic biome, and are becoming more and more aware that the health of the biome affects the health of all of the Earth’s biomes.