The aquatic climate biome is far and away the largest biome, covering roughly seventy-five percent of all available area on the planet. Because it is so enormous of an area, it can hardly be spoken of as a single biome. There are a number of sublevel biomes under the broad category of aquatic. In the broadest terms, the aquatic biome refers to any environment that is covered with water. From this general definition we can first split it into freshwater and saltwater environments. Taking a look at each of these two main branches, further subdivisions will become readily apparent.
Freshwater environments include such areas as rivers, estuaries, ponds, and lakes. These areas are typically characterized by shallow water, with many different species from land interacting with the ecosystem in the water. Of course, there are all manner of different versions for each of these categories. Some lakes may be nearly a half mile deep or more, and resemble ocean biomes more than they do ponds. Lakes of certain sizes affect the weather for vast areas around them, while still others develop deep currents that circulate nutrients and wildlife. Rivers range from a trickle in someone’s backyard, with salamanders ruling the ecosystem, to behemoths such as the Nile River or the Amazon River, where raging rapids and crocodiles dominate.
Saltwater biomes occur in oceans, gulfs, bays, and inlets, and are by far the largest aquatic biome. The differences in saltwater biomes are due mainly to the different depths which occur. Saltwater biomes along the shoreline are the ones most humans are familiar with, and in most cases are the only ones which we ever see. Although the shorelines are only a very small percentage of the total area of saltwater biomes, they contain a disproportionately large percentage of species. This is due to the shallow warm waters where food is plentiful and shelter is more easily found. Coral reefs could be considered a whole separate biome by itself, with entire food chains located in its cracks and crevices. Once you look further out from shore, the surface of oceans around the world can be classified together as the open oceans biome. In this area, sunlight and photosynthesizing organisms still dominate, and life flourishes. There are any number of biomes that could be argued for when going to deeper waters of the ocean. The largest difference is between are shallow ocean waters where sunlight still penetrates, and the deeper oceans where there is no sunlight. In these dark depths, bioluminescence and chemical synthesis supports a surprising amount of life. Scientists are just beginning to properly explore these depths, which can exceed 5 or more miles, with the help of advanced submersibles.
While the aquatic biome seems simple at first glance, it contains virtually countless subdivisions and ecosystems. With three quarters of the planet falling within this category, it is no surprise that there is such diversity.