Nine Major Marine Ecosystems • Rocky Intertidal • Sandy and Cobble Beach • Salt Marshes and Estuaries • Open Ocean • Deep Sea Floor • Hydrothermal Vents • Coral Reefs • Polar Ocean • Kelp Forest
Rocky Intertidal • This marine community has extreme biodiversity. It is one of the Earth’s most densely populated areas. The ocean meets the land in this community and it has a large number of habitats and niches.
Sandy and Cobble Beaches • This marine community is where the ocean meets the land. It is a very harsh environment. There are some species who have adapted well to this environment. It experiences the extremes of the ebb and flow of the tides.
Salt Marshes and Estuaries • This marine community is where fresh water meets salt water. It has extreme biodiversity, with complex food webs. The American alligator is a keystone species in this community.
Open Ocean • The Pelagic Zone • This community contains 83% of the ocean’s total biomass in the uppermost 200 meters. Below that few species live.
Deep Sea Floor • The Benthic Zone • This marine community is very cold. It has a high level of salinity, density, and pressure. Some organisms thrive in this environment especially the brittle star.
Hydrothermal Vents • This marine community has super-heated water. It contains white and black smokers. Bacteria are the primary producers and make food through chemosynthesis. Deep sea fish are at the top of the food chain in this environment. This environment could have been the starting point for life on Earth.
Coral Reefs • This marine community comes in three types; fringe, barrier, and atoll. It contains extreme biodiversity, with complex food webs.
Polar Ocean • This marine community has very cold water. It has a large population of organisms but a fewer number of species.
Kelp Forest • This marine community is found along coastlines, in cool waters. El Nino can have devastating affects on this environment. It contains large communities of brown algae. The keystone species are the algae, purple sea urchins, and sea otters.