Marine habitats are one of the largest and most biodiverse places on Earth. It covers around 91% of the total water on the planet. Marine habitats, for centuries, remained as the most unexplored places due to its hostile environment and the risks it involves. There have been multiple attempts by marine explorers in the past to touch the depth of marine habitats but unfortunately, could not be done, yet.
Marine habitats have remained as nothing but a mystery for thousands of years. But, in the last few decades, immense efforts were made to explore the depths of marine habitats. Even now, we are nowhere close to the complete understanding of mysteries lying deep within the marine environment but we are now familiar with marine habitats like never before.
Based on our current understanding, marine habitats are divided into several categories. The 4 main marine habitats include:
- Intertidal Zone
- The deep sea
Based on the salinity level, marine habitats are divided into 3 categories:
- Inland saline
In this section, we’ll explore different types of marine habitats and its role in keeping the land organisms alive. Despite being the most explored places on earth, marine habitats are richer and unique in life than the majority of places we call biodiverse. From single-celled organisms to the largest creature on earth, marine habitats contributes to the environment in almost all forms of life. Besides its ability to adapt in a different environment, several species in marine habitats are one of the most intelligent species, after humans.
WHAT ARE THE 4 MAIN MARINE HABITATS BASED ON THEIR ENVIRONMENTAL DIVERSITY?
- MANGROVE – These are the combination of trees and shrubs found at the shorelines of oceans, riverbanks, and in estuaries. They are mainly found in tropical and sub-tropical areas. Mangrove is found in muddy soil that is collected by erosion, protecting other species from getting affected.
HOW DOES MANGROVE SURVIVE UNDER HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT?
- Due to its widespread and dense plant-like environment, these areas are able to collect freshwater with the help of their thick succulent leaves.
- These plants are able to extract almost all saltwater coming from the ocean and convert it into freshwater, thus making it fit to cope with salinity levels of the ocean.
- INTERTIDAL ZONE – This is a region between high and low tides that constantly resist harsh and unfavorable habitat. The algae and other intertidal plants grow in abundant sunlight and act as a food source for animals. Brittle stars, Crabs, Green Algae, Isopods, and several other organisms are found in the Intertidal zone.
This zone is exposed to water during high tides and air during low tides, which is the defining characteristic of the Intertidal zone.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF INTERTIDAL ZONE?
Organisms surviving in this region must adapt to difficulties like temperature change, extreme sunlight, ocean predators and so on. There are several species in the Intertidal zone that has adapted itself to a different environment. Thus, taking advantage of the abundant supply of food reaching them from the ocean tides.
- THE DEEP SEA – Unlike Intertidal zone, deep-sea habitat is an extremely harsh region where no sunlight or photosynthesis occures. It is the deepest known region of marine habitat which can possess a depth lying between 700 meters to several miles. After decades of speculating about what lies in the deepest parts of marine habitat, we are finally preparing ourselves to dive deeper into oceans. Deep-sea submersibles and sampling technologies are getting us ready to be able to sneak in the deepest parts of marine habitats.
WHAT ARE THE PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF DEEP SEA HABITAT?
There are several characteristics that play an important role in the dwelling of organisms in the deep sea environment. Non-living characteristics involve temperature, current, pressure, oxygen, and carbon dioxide exchange and some other chemical factors responsible for the sustainable survival of deep-sea habitat. Biotic characteristics involve food abundance, competitors, and potential predators being the factors responsible for life in deep-sea.
- REEF – Being one of the most diverse marine habitats, the coral reef is home to thousands of different marine organisms. Coral reefs are found all around the world in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Because of its need for direct sunlight, it is found in the shallow region of marine habitat. From the ancient times, reefs had developed a sort of an intricate bonding with algae.
WHAT ARE THE DIRECT THREATS EXPERIENCED BY CORAL REEF?
Even though, the list of threats to the coral reefs seems to be endless, there are several direct threats that affect species in this region.
- Warming of water as a result of climate change is one the most threatening factors affecting coral reefs.
- Pollutants extracted from agriculture and sewage to the marine habitat is another alarming factor that directly affects the coral environment.
Based on the salinity level, marine habitat is divided into three main categories:
- BRACKISH – With salinity level ranging from 0.5 – 35 ppt (parts per thousand), brackish habitat makes it difficult for an organism to adapt in a different environment. Estuaries, Mangroves, Brackish marsh are some of the regions which lie within the brackish habitat.
- SEA – The salinity level of the sea habitat is nearly constant, about 35 ppt. With ranging salinity, the density of water is noticed with an exponential change. However, there are areas in the sea that have a higher level of salinity. Due to less abundance of rainwater or river intake, the water density seems to rise as a result of an increase in salinity of sea habitat.
- INLAND SALINE – Salinity level of this marine habitat ranges from 0.5 – 250 ppt. It is the aquaculture of marine animals and plants using inland sources of groundwater. Abundant species found in this region include rainbow trout, brown trout, snapper, and several unicellular algae. This region is mainly used for extensive culture, intensive culture, and semi-intensive culture.
- WHAT PORTION OF OCEANS IS COVERED BY MARINE HABITATS?
Marine habitats cover almost 65-70% of the total surface area of the planet. Both saline and freshwater cover around 71% of total surface area.
- WHAT IS THE TEMPERATURE VARIATION IN MARINE HABITATS?
Depending on their geographical location, the temperature can vary from 0°C in the polar regions to around 30°C in the tropical and subtropical regions.