There are approximately 1,322 billion cubic kilometers of water in our earth’s oceans, providing a home to many different types of ocean habitats in which organisms, plants and animals live. With approximately 70% of this planet covered in water and 96% of this is ocean, the type of ocean habitat depends upon which ocean zone.
This guide to Ocean Habitats will cover the seven major habitats of ocean life.
Deep Sea Zone – Approximately 80% of the ocean consists of water that is at least 1,000 meters deep. In these waters is the deepest, darkest and coldest part of the ocean which has water temperature of about 35 – 40 degrees.
The deepest part of the ocean is called the Challenger Deep, and is approximately 36,200 feet deep.
Off the coast of California, near the Davidson Seamount you can find the Spanish Dancer which is a type of sea cucumber, which goes to show, that even in these conditions is a surprising number of species that thrive in this environment, or habitat. In the Deep Sea Zone you can also find the anglerfish which attracts its prey with its luminescence. Going deeper, at about 4 miles below the surface, lives the Pseudoliparis Amblystomopsis, a snail-fish which was first filmed in 2008.
Hydrothermal Vents – Though these hydrothermal vents are in the deep sea, they are geysers, spewing hot water and minerals into very cold water.
Hydrothermal Vents support many types of marine life, including shrimp, clams, mussels, crabs and tubeworms.
Pelagic Zone – The Pelagic Zone is the open ocean which is located outside of coastal areas. In this part of the ocean you will find some of the largest species of ocean life.
There are five major subzones which separate the Pelagic Zone, and is dependent upon the depth of the water:
1. Epipelagic Zone – ocean surface to 200 meters.
2. Mesopelagic Zone – 200 – 1,000 meters deep.
3. Bathypelagic Zone – 1,000 – 4,000 meters deep.
4. Abyssopelagic Zone – 4,000 – 6,000 meters deep.
5. Hadopelagic Zone – the deep ocean trenches that are deeper than 6,000 meters.
The ocean life that the Pelagic Zone sustains, are the large ocean life such as Bluefin tuna, jellyfish and giant squid.
Mangroves – To put it simply, Mangroves grow plants that will grow while being exposed to saltwater. There are about 12 plant families and 50 species that grow in Mangroves around the world.
Mangrove plants have a tangle of roots, hence their nickname, ‘Walking Trees.’
Mangroves provide food and shelter to fish, birds, and other types of marine life and provides a nursery area for the marine animals there.
Not only will you find crocodiles, alligators and sea turtles in Mangroves, but you can also find snapper, shrimp and crab.
Intertidal Zone – the Intertidal Zone is the area where land and sea meet. It is a challenging zone to sustain life, but there are many species which do make it.
In the Intertidal Zone one can find such animals as crab, sea urchins and sea stars, snails, mussels and anemones, as well as many organisms. You can also find sea gulls and seals.
Coral Reefs – Though there are some cold water coral reefs but more well - known are the tropical reefs. One has only to do a little diving or snorkeling to view some of the most spectacular underwater scenery.
Coral Reefs are made up of tiny animals called stony corals, which are made up of tiny organisms called polyps. As the polyps live, reproduce and die they leave their skeletons behind. This then, forms the foundation of a coral reef.
Around a reef one can find many different species of fish and ocean life.
Gulf of Mexico – The Gulf of Mexico covers approximately 600,000 square miles in which there are different types of habitat. There is the shallow coastal areas and coral reefs; and there are deep areas as well, such as the Sigsbee Deep which is about 13,000 feet deep.
The Gulf of Mexico has a wide diversity of marine life because of its varying depths. It sustains such animals as whales and dolphins, as well as many different types if fish, shellfish and worms. Sea turtles and alligators have been known to thrive here as well.
Though this Guide to Ocean Habitats barely covers the tip of the iceberg, it does give its readers a basic idea of Earth’s vast oceans and the worlds they produce.