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The marine biome remains under threat because of human irresponsibility. These are threats such as poaching, pollution, and changes in the sea floor due to surface instabilities. Learn about the 10 worst threats that the ocean world has been suffering. Save your planet!
Oceans cover 70% of the Earth's surface.
Marine waters are home to more than 2 million species of plants, animals, fungi, corals, and algae. The sampling is partial, as experts say that 90 percent of marine life is still unknown.
The marine biome regulates the climate of the planet, creating rain and wind as well as influencing land temperatures.
The waters of the oceans separate the continents of the world, and likewise, the seas separate the countries. Other marine biomes exist in saltwater lakes, such as the Great Lake of Utah, the Caspian Sea, Lake Urmia in Iran, and the Dead Sea, among the largest.
The five oceans are the Earth's major marine biomes:
There are approximately 50 seas on the planet, bodies of water that connect the land with the oceans. There are the gulfs and bays, a host of saltwater lakes, coastal marshes, and also other beds that receive the ocean's salinity.
The marine fauna includes thousands of species, which divide into three groups based on their light - or not - needs (a true "love affair"):
Euphotic: love light.
Disphotic: love dusk.
Apoptosis: love dark.
The known marine groups of plants are seagrasses, kelp, sargassum, phytoplankton, and red algae. These are plants that can be both floating and emergent and are not always fully submerged, staying in the shallow waters of salt lakes and marshes, such as mangroves, birches, and salt grasses.
Despite the varied diversity of marine plants, it is not that easy to survive in a hostile environment like the deep ocean. It has been found that the marine biome is lethal to 99% of its plants.
The resilient 1% is the one that gets away with predators, especially the worst: humans.
This group that lives at the bottom of the ocean remains mysterious, i.e., many of them are still unknown to scientists. Extremes are common in the marine biome, like, there are the biggest of all, the blue whales, and the smallest of all, the sea pigs, which are almost transparent and disintegrate if they get too close to the surface.
Reptiles such as sea turtles, sea snakes, and saltwater crocodiles live in the marine biome along with more than 20,000 species of fish. Other mammals like polar bears, dolphins, otters, seals, and sea lions dominate the environment. They can breathe oxygen and also live submerged if needed. There are also more than 350 species of seabirds, also considered marine animals.
As for invertebrate marine animals, the best known are corals. Other invertebrates include sponges, mollusks, arthropods, worms, jellyfish, and anemones.
Surviving at the bottom of the sea
On the other hand, deep sea inhabitants are equipped with lungs or swim bladders that compress to cope with the intense water pressure. Many use bioluminescence to deter, hide, or confuse predators in dark waters. Some species can glide along the sea bottom and can effortlessly travel long distances in search of food. Others can go months without a meal. The worst issue turns out to be the most dangerous threat: the human being.
A recent study analyzed the human impact on the oceans and came to a gloomy conclusion. Only 13% of the world's oceans can fit the definition of "marine wilderness", as the rest have already been destroyed by human activity.
10 threats that the marine biome has been suffering:
1 - Drastic increase in seawater temperature
Because of the constant changes in the Earth's climate, which no longer follow the seasons as it used to, sudden temperature increases are frequent. This imbalance is a serious threat to marine animals and those plants that are most sensitive to changes in water temperature, fatal for many species, by the way.
2 - Parts of marine animals sold without an inspection
Despite being a means of survival for the poorest coastal communities, the trade of marine animal parts needs a more effective inspection. The sale of shells, starfish, and other organisms, sometimes does not meet certain situations to avoid excess, as happens with the vulnerable parts of marine vertebrates, such as shark teeth, seal skin, etc.
3 - Toxic waste and loud sound
The dumping of toxic waste in areas or rivers near the sea is responsible for the high mortality rate of marine fauna and flora. Another source of toxic waste is dumped from ships that, besides dumping fuel into the sea, affects the marine biome with its loud sound, causing serious stress in species that are more sensitive to sound.
4 - Illegal exploratory hunting
Many rare marine species that may be in the process of extinction are hunted indiscriminately. Other species are taken out of their natural habitat and go straight into captivity, as is the case with dolphins, sharks, seals, and whales.
5 - Vessel Trawling
This threat is little known and is a common method during fishing that uses huge nets thrown into the water. The problem is that after fishing, the nets are left on the bottom of the ocean. Smaller marine animals are at risk of getting caught in these nets and end up dying of starvation.
6 - Dredging
Dredging is the name given to the removal of sediment or sand from the ocean bottom. This process also helps to lay out routes for ships, making it easier to cross certain dangerous maritime regions. In this collection, the bright side of the moon is that dredging can also remove toxic materials from the seabed. On the other hand, this process can cause a change in the mineral composition of seawater. When this happens, some marine animals or plants find it difficult to adapt to the new habitat and end up dying.
7 - Plastic
The best-known villain of the planet's oceans, the bad guy also known as plastic continues to threaten the marine biome. If some sustainable plastic alternatives cannot be taken in order to reduce the huge plastic amount that lies at the source and in its depth, serious risks might endure for quite a long time yet. Plastic ingestion by marine animals is still high. It kills more than a million birds and hundreds of thousands of mammals. The plastic that becomes litter at sea is also dumped by tourist ships. The result is dumpsites on the high seas, such as the most famous one in the Pacific.
8 - Oceans Garbage Patches
There are many garbage dumps on the high seas which is a huge whirlpool where all the garbage that is thrown on the beaches and from the tourist ships is. The biggest of all is the Pacific Garbage Patch, a crazy vortex, besides the toxic waste, where floats plastics and every material you can imagine. All this junk rotates in the middle of the ocean like a centrifuge. It is a plague that still has no date to end.
9 - Ship recycling without strict inspection
The dismantling of ships is a common practice performed at the end of the ship's life. The parts are reused in new ships or for other reasons. The problem is that this practice is mostly performed in underdeveloped countries that use dangerous techniques that threaten the lives of many workers and, of course, the maritime environment. More effective inspections followed by measures may be taken by Fairtrade International but it seems they are not enough. Therefore, another way to put an end to these practices is specialized ship recycling which might prevent the worst.
10 - Bleaching of the coral reefs
Because of the increase in temperature of the oceans, the acidification of their waters increases. Such a phenomenon may cause the bleaching or discoloration of the corals, which become translucent and end up dying. Hence, invertebrate marine animals are harmed because they are left without food or shelter from predators.
The other threats that can destroy the habitat of marine organisms such as corals, algae, mangroves, and seagrass are bomb fishing and underwater mining activities.