The ocean can be separated into separate biomes based on the animal species and plants which can be found in the different areas. There are four major zones of the open ocean biomes, which are grouped as such: the intertidal zone, the pelagic zone, the benthic zone and the abyssal zone. The environments found in each vary greatly, and they play host to a diverse population of ocean flora and fauna.
The intertidal zone is the area you see before you when you sit on the beach. It is the shoreline, and is interrupted by the constant to and fro of the ocean waves. The tidal pull supports a variety of sea life. Small fish and crabs, seaweeds and algaes and any hardy creatures that can sustain the constant pounding of the surf. It also features the birds which prey on the worms and crabs, their kitchen pantry the sand and rockpools.
The pelagic zone is the water you look out to as you watch the sun dip below the horizon, staring out to sea. You might be familar with the term pelagic fish. Tuna is one example. This is the open ocean, where fish are constantly on the move, and are without the protection of rocks and reefs. Dolphins and whales live in the pelagic zone. Water temperature is generally cooler than in the intertidal zone.
The benthic zone lies beneath the pelagic zone. The sea bottom so to speak and all that lives there. In the sand, numerous creatures thrive such as sea sponges and starfish, or sea stars as well as glorious anemones and bottom feeding fish.
The abyssal zone is one that we rarely see. Immortalised in movies such as ‘The Abyss’, the abyssal zone suggests the unknown. Indeed there is a large portion of the ocean in the abyssal zone that remains untouched. It is simply too deep to reach. The temperatures here are extremely cold, as little sunlight can reach these extreme depths. Nonetheless there are some incredible species that have been discovered and thrive in such an environment, such as fish with lights and lures to reel in their prey.
All four areas contain a huge variety of species. The zoning allows us to categorize more easily and creates a point of reference. Humans have only begun to explore the abyssal zone with the assistance of deep sea submarines; the extreme pressure exerted at such depths requiring specialist equipment.
Understanding not only the differences in the biomes, but the similarites allows us to piece together more of the puzzle.