When earth is seen from space it looks blue. That is why it has been called ‘the blue planet.’ 70% of it is water and of that, 96% is salt water in the form of the oceans. Those who study the oceans have found that there are different kinds of environment or habitats where animals and plants thrive. There are the freezing polar oceans to the coral reefs in the tropics and everything in between. The various habitats have their own challenges unique to them and the organisms that inhabit them are also unique. Here are some of the marine habitats:
About Marine Habitats:
- Mangroves – This is a term used to describe a habitat made up of several salt tolerant (halophytic) species of plants. There are 50 species to be found across the world in over twelve families. They grow in estuarine or intertidal areas. The roots of mangrove plants are often tangled and grow above the water. This has caused them to be nicknamed ‘walking trees.’ These roots have been specially adapted so that they are able to filter the salt water. Additionally, the leaves of mangroves are able to excrete salt, which allows them to thrive where many other plants are unable. This is a critical habitat because it provides food, nursery areas and shelter for a variety of crustaceans, fish and birds.
- Sea grasses – This is a flowering plant (angiosperm) that makes it home in a brackish or marine environment. There are 50 species of these to be found around the world. They are often found in coastal waters that are protected, such as estuaries, lagoons and bays in both tropical and temperate regions. Usually, they attach themselves to the bottom of the ocean using rhizomes and thick roots. Rhizomes are horizontal stems that have shoots which point upwards and also have roots going down. The roots of these sea grasses stabilize the bottom of the ocean. They are a great habitat for many organisms and are used as nursery areas. Some organisms live in the sea grass their entire lives. Animals such as sea turtles and manatees eat the animals that make their habitation in the beds of sea grass.
- Intertidal zone – This is the area where the sea and land meet. This area usually has water when the tide is high and then it is exposed to the air when the tide is low. Many times it can be sandy, rocky or have mudflats. Within it are different zones: the splash zone, dry area, and littoral zone, which stays under the water. Here, you can find puddles and tide pools as the water is receding. You will find many different organisms living here as well.