Water covers about three quarters of our planet.  From oceans to rivulets, aquatic biomes are host to a wide variety of life-forms, and minerals, from the most common algae to the most mysterious deep-sea creature.

There is still much to learn about aquatic biomes... 

Aquatic Biome Images

Life began in the ocean billions of years ago.  Most of the life forms which currently occupy the earth had their start as single-celled organisms, forced into evolution by an ever-changing environment.  Even now, species are disappearing and  appearing without our knowledge. 

There two types of aquatic biome, the marine regions, and the freshwater regions.  

The marine regions

The marine regions are divided between coral reefs, estuaries, and oceans.  Oceans represent the largest and most diverse of the ecosystems; salt water evaporates and turns to rain which falls on the land regions, while most of the oxygen in our atmosphere is generated by algae.  Algae is also responsible for the absorption of large amounts of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.

The ocean connect to the land via what is called the inter-tidal zone.  Because of rising and falling tides, coastal areas are constantly changing, with various animals and marine plants living at the bottom, and on the seashore.  Rocky coastal areas are host to fewer species due to the fact that only the highest of tides will reach the top of the cliffs.

In the warm shallow waters which line the continents and surrounding islands lie barriers called coral reefs. Coral is a living organism consisting of animal and algae tissues. Corals feed like plants through the process of photosynthesis, and like animals, they also use their tentacles to catch micro-organisms.  The coral reef is also host to other species such as starfish, octopi, and other mollusks.

Out  in the open ocean is what is called the pelagic zone, which is host to many species of fish and marine mammals, plankton ,and some floating seaweed. the area underneath the pelagic zone is called the benthic zone, or deep-sea, and is host to silt, sand, and slowly decomposing organisms.  This area is very cold due to its depth, which is untouched by the light of the sun. There are few plants at this level, and the animals include mostly bottom feeding organisms such as starfish, anemones, sponges, amongst others, as well as various micro-organisms.

The deepest part of the ocean is called the abyssal zone. it is host to many species of invertebrates and fish including such oddities as the coelacanth, a prehistoric fish once thought extinct and found in the depths of the Indian Ocean, and other fish that glow in the dark via a process called photoluminescence.  The abyssal zone is very cold, and highly pressurized.  Its floor features vents formed by spreading tectonic plates which release hydrogen sulfide and 
other minerals which are consumed by the bacteria which are then consumed by other micro-organisms, which are in turn, consumed by the fish, and so on.

Ocean Conservation Website



Ocean (Biomes of the World)
by Edward R. Ricciuti (Library Binding - September 1996)

Natural Reef Aquariums : Simplified Approaches to Creating Living Saltwater Microcosms
by John H. Tullock, Martin A. Moe (Paperback - November 1997)

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