The marine environment comprises more than seventy percent of the Earth's surface. A number of ecosystems exist within the overall marine ecosystem due to the diversity of biotic and abiotic factors within the corresponding area.
Salinity is defined as the dissolved substances in the water, principally ions of chlorine, sodium,and magnesium. Salinity is reduced due to freshwater input from rivers and streams, melting ice and rainwater runoff from coasts. Due to differences in the density of salt and freshwater, salinity may vary with depth in a water column.
Water temperature is stratified in many parts of the marine ecosystem as well. The cold deeper waters of the ocean are often separated from the warm surface waters by a boundary layer known as the thermocline.
Because sunlight is absorbed and refracted by the oceans as depth increases, photosynthesis is confined to the top few hundred meters of the ocean.
About one-third of all marine biological productivity occurs along coastal areas. These areas include mangroves, salt marshes, tidal zones and sea grass beds.
One of the harshest habitats for organisms to adapt to and survive is the zone between high tide and low tide. Organisms in this region must be adapted to a desiccating environment subject to great fluctuations in temperature during low tide and then accommodate a submerged saline environment during high tide.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Sherrie Thai
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