Introduction: An ecosystem can be defined as a community or system of organisms, all living together. This community is marked out as distinctive because it has certain defining characteristics.
But, what is a marine ecosystem? The word marine comes from the Latin word mare which means the sea. So, it follows from this that a marine ecosystem is an ecosystem based around the sea.
The sea is saline or salty. So, we can also add to this definition of a marine ecosystem the fact that this is a salt water ecosystem.
There are many seas and oceans all throughout the world. We might debate about whether they all form one giant ecosystem or whether they are all distinct ecosystems.
However, there are (to recap the above discussion) several things that we can say for definite about a marine ecosystem. That is, that it is:
- Based around the sea.
- A salt water ecosystem.
- Consisting of a community of organisms that live together.
- This community shares distinctive characteristics.
- Can vary depending on where the sea or ocean in question is located.
Types of marine ecosystem.
There are various types of marine ecosystem, and understanding these different types can also help us to better understand the idea of a marine ecosystem as a whole. So, let us look at some of the key types.
1. Salt marshes: here, sea water saturates the land to create a unique environment where salt water creatures and plants can flourish.
2. Estuaries: where the river meets the sea, we have a fascinating tidal ecosystem which is home to both native and migrating birds and a wide variety of sea and river life.
3. The ocean floor: deep on the ocean floor there is little light but plenty of life. Crustaceans and other weird and wonderful deep sea creatures live here.
4. The broad ocean: right out to sea we can find whales, sharks, manatees and a wide variety of other wildlife.
5. The inter-tidal zone: right on the shore line, an ecosystem forms. Here, the types of creatures that we find in this ecosystem may well depend on whether it is high or low tide. This ecosystem may change vastly throughout the day as a result, but it is always a distinct and recognizable ecosystem.
6. Coral reefs: where living corals form a natural barrier, a new ecosystem can be located. Crustaceans, fish and other organisms base their lives around the coral. The Great Barrier Reef is a world famous example of this type of marine ecosystem.
7. Lagoons: where the sea spills in to a rocky valley, a static lagoon is created. In this calm world, many different types of birds, crustaceans, fish and other animals set up their homes, creating an interesting salt water ecosystem.
Though it comes from the Latin for the sea, a marine ecosystem can be so many different things. As well as the ocean itself we have lagoons, salt marshes, coral reefs and much much more. We must all do all that we can in order to protect these beautiful ecosystems – so why not think right now about what you could do yourself?