Marine Science and its Importance to the World
Aster, Virginia, Age 13
Marine Science is the study of the ocean, its ecosystems, and its life forms. The ocean and its wonders are a mystery to us all. The ocean is a very complex system made up of different species, plant life, habitats, and all of the science behind it. Most important of all, it involves all sorts of questions just waiting to be answered. Many people think of marine science as just the water and don’t think of the life involved with it, but it is much more than that. That is why “marine science” doesn’t refer to the water itself, but to all of the organisms that make up the water. Science makes up the water and its life. Some other titles for marine science are oceanology and oceanography. Although these names sound the same, oceanography usually focuses on the physical aspects of the ocean, like the currents, the tides and the dynamics, which is the motion and flow of the water, while oceanology tends to involve all of the sciences, like the chemical and biological process.
Studying aquatic animals is amazing and puzzling. There are many different kinds of animals and plants, each with its own story to tell. They each have a different way of life to maintain, and that is what sets them apart. Some can swim and others can’t, some are made up of many different cells, while others only have a few. These animals may sound similar, but they are truly unique in their own way. Animals that live in the water are called aquatic animals because the word aquatic diverges from the Latin word “Aqua,” which means water. These animals are often hard to study and document because of their distinct living conditions. Not all aquatic animals can swim; ones that can swim are called nektonic. Whales, seals, fish, sea snakes, turtles, octopuses, and squids are all nektonic. Animals that cannot swim are called benthic. Crabs, lobsters, sea snails, clams, and sea stars are all benthic. Sessile animals are ones that do not move and just sit in one place. Corals and sponges are sessile. They may sound like polar opposites, but all of these species share the same evolutionary process for adapting to their vast environment.
Marine science isn’t just about animals, it’s about the habitat too. Each animal adapts to their own habitat in their own unique way. Some animals hide while others try to blend in with their surroundings. Some animals are born used to their habitat, but others have to adjust to salt levels, water temperature, light, and more. Some animals have to migrate to shallower areas, and some prefer to stay where they are. The continental shelf is where the water starts to get deeper and slope downward; it is called this because it is part of the continent that is under water. Sometimes it’s shallow for miles and miles, and sometimes it’s shallow for only a few feet. Along the continental shelf you will find many different habitats such as mangrove forests, kelp forests, coral reefs, and sea grass meadows, and closer to the shore, rocky shores with animal rich tide pools. The continental slope is like a giant cliff. There are places where it goes straight down and places where it slopes down a bit more gently. The abyssal plain is the deep dark ocean floor that goes for miles and miles. These are all examples of the many habitats to be found in the ocean.
Another well known physical aspect of the ocean is the tide. The tides are caused by the moon when the moon pulls on the earth and its oceans with its gravitational pull. As the moon pulls on the earth’s oceans, the oceans bulge towards the moon, causing these tides. When the water comes way up onto the shore, this is called high tide. When it pulls way back exposing more beach, we call it low tide. Many creatures are dependent on the tides, especially ones that stay in tide pools. Fish that depend on the tide to feed wait for the tide to pull smaller fish out to sea, and some smaller fish that live in tide pools depend on the water to wash in nutrients from the ocean. The tides also provide a way for baby turtles to get to the ocean once they are hatched. The tides sometimes change during a lunar cycle, causing them to be lower or higher then usual. These are called spring tides.
As you can see, the oceans and all of its wonders have supplied years of studies and research to the world. From the strange creatures, to the microscopic organisms, to the unexplored habitats, all of these organisms are truly unforgettable in their own way. Making up 71 percent of the earth’s surface, marine life has managed to truly amaze us as we try to dig deeper on earth’s largest aquatic habitat.