MARINE SCIENCE

Marine Science is the study of the plants and animals and how that interact within this exceptional habitat. Marine Biologists are scientists expertly trained  in the field of aquatic habitats. 

Would you like a career in Marine Science?  You can get a head start with our Marine Studies course. Click here for details!

Marine ecosystems are often complex and dynamic environments in which many organisms are involved in many intricate and often totally unobvious relationships. It is due to this complex web and fragility that marine ecosystems can be subject to sudden and dramatic consequences as a result of changing environmental conditions. A prime example of this is the collapse of certain fishing industries due to a lack of efficient control over the fishing quota and practices. Overfishing of a certain species can be expected to produce this result, however there are instances of seemingly totally unrelated species being affected by the exploitation of another species.

 Fishing communities who are reliant on the productivity of these environments can also be adversely affected by the depletion of stocks. The economies of countries such as Peru and Newfoundland have been reliant on the income generated from their coastal fisheries.

 Overexploitation of these systems in response to the growing demand for fish stocks, places huge pressures on the sustainability of these systems to endure such demands Another example (and putting coral reefs at very high risk of being destroyed in the 21st Century) is the consistent rise of global warming and its known effects on coral bleaching.

 Over the past one hundred years, the temperature of sea water in many tropical areas has been rising. Rising water temperatures block the photosynthetic reaction that converts carbon dioxide into sugar (a process carried out by the zooxanthellae – the microscopic algae that reside within the corals). The result is a build-up of products that poison the zooxanthellae. To save itself, the coral expels the zooxanthellae and some of its own tissue, leaving the coral a bleached white. The bleached coral can recover, but only if cooler water temperatures return and the algae are able to grow again. This is an incredibly slow process however, and the rate of destruction of the reefs is far quicker than the recovery rate Overexploitation of these systems in response to the growing demand for fish stocks, places huge pressures on the sustainability of these systems to endure such demands.

 Another example (and putting coral reefs at very high risk of being destroyed in the 21st Century) is the consistent rise of global warming and its known effects on coral bleaching. Over the past one hundred years, the temperature of sea water in many tropical areas has been rising. Rising water temperatures block the photosynthetic reaction that converts carbon dioxide into sugar (a process carried out by the zooxanthellae – the microscopic algae that reside within the corals). The result is a build-up of products that poison the zooxanthellae. To save itself, the coral expels the zooxanthellae and some of its own tissue, leaving the coral a bleached white. The bleached coral can recover, but only if cooler water temperatures return and the algae are able to grow again. This is an incredibly slow process however, and the rate of destruction of the reefs is far quicker than the recovery rate. 

MARINE PLANTS

Fundamental to marine life are plants, in both primitive and more advanced stages. They form the most basic element of the food chain, and without them no marine animal would exist. Plant life is nowhere near as abundant under the sea as it is on land. Most of the niches occupied by plants in the ocean is occupied by macroscopic algae, such as the two most commonly known seaweeds, Sargassum and kelp. Plants that have adapted to life in the ocean are found in shallow waters, like seagrasses. The intertidal zone is also a good place to find plant life in the sea, where mangroves tend to grow. By utilising sunlight via photosynthesis, marine plants form carbohydrates and sugars which provide nutrition to marine life (once ingested) like crustaceans, molluscs, fish and marine mammals. Marine plants also have several other important roles in the marine community. Along with providing a food source for other larger marine organisms they also; Provide shelter protecting many fish species from predators and also harbour spawning and fish eggs Provide very important breeding grounds for various species which are extremely valuable to both local fisheries and as food sources themselves Act as symbiotic partners for the reef building corals (zooxanthellae) Provide reef building materials (calcareous algae) Help to cement the reef together (coralline algae).


CLASSIFICATION OF HIGHER MARINE ANIMALS

The sub phylum Vertebrata is placed within the phylum Craniata. The more complex marine animals fall within this group.

Craniata includes animals with a distinct brain.

Vertebrata includes animals with a distinct back bone.

Classes within Vertebrata include:

- Cyclostomata (Lampreys and Hagfish)

- Chondrichthyes (Sharks, Skates & Rays)

- Osteichthyes (Bony fish)

- Choanichthyes (Lungfish)

- Amphibia (Amphibians-frogs etc)

- Reptilia (Crocodiles, Marine Iguanas, Turtles etc)

- Aves (Birds)

- Mammalia (Mammals)


If you think you would like to learn more about Marine Biology or get a head start on your career in this field.  Click on one of the links below to find out more about the great courses we offer!

Marine Studies I

Marine Studies II

ACS Bookshop also has books on Marine Science which you can purchase. Click here to find out more.