Location


The aquatic biome is the largest of all the biomes. It accounts for 75 percent of the earth's surface. The aquatic biome includes many different forms of environments. Aquatic biomes include; small ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, oceans, seas, reservoirs, estuaries and many more. They can be found in almost every part of the world.


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Abiotic Factors


There are many abiotic factors that are associated with the aquatic biome. Water temperature, water depth, visibility, currents, dissolved oxygen levels in the water, and endlessly more factors all contribute to the aquatic biome. DO, or dissolved oxygen, plays a very important role in the aquatic biome. The DO level will determine what sort of organisms and creatures live in th
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at specific environment. High DO levels will lead to unclear, mucky, and algae filled waters. They will have few fish than plants. If the DO level is low, then the water will be clearer and there will be more fish present. Another important factor is the water temperature. The deeper the water, the less sunlight penetrates that water, so the water will be colder the deeper the water. The bottom of the seas will be much colder and house different organisms than the bottom of a shallow pond. Animals and organisms adapt to survive in certain environments such as cold or warm waters. Another abiotic factor is salinity. extremely high levels of salinity will provide much fewer levels of life. Organisms in the salt water oceans have adapted to survive on the salinity in the water. Without it, they would die. The same goes for organism in fresh water, they would not be able to survive in high levels of salinity.


Adaptations of Native Plants




Mangrove trees are one type of plant that have adapted to survive in their environment. In just about all estuaries, the salinity of the water changes constantly over the tidal cycle.The mangrove tree has adapted to survive when the salinity changes. Euryhaline are organisms that can respond to rapid changes in salinity. There are far fewer of these in the world than stenoholine which cannot respond to changes and will die. Mangrove trees have also adapted to survive in soil which has no oxygen. Another plant the has adapted to survive is the Zostera plant, or eelgrass. it is a type of sea plant that has adapted to deal with changes in salinity. It survives by releasing solutes as the tide goes out and gaining solutes as the tide comes in. This regulates the plant and keeps it alive. Eelgrass is found near shores and estuaries. A third plant that has learned to adapt is the Sargasso sea weed. This plant is an algae that is found at the surface of the oceans. It has developed air containers that are buoyant. These sacks fill with oxygen and keep the algae afloat so that the algae can stay at the top of the surface and take in the most amount of sunlight possible.

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Adaptations of Native Animals


Aquatic animals have adapted to survive in all sorts of water environments. One of those animals is the angler fish. It lives deep in the ocean where no light penetrates to. The anglerfish has a fleshy growth on its head that acts as a lure. It is similar to a fishing line with a light on the end. The attachment lights up and attracts other fish. When they get close, the anglerfish uses its razor sharp teeth to finish the job. Another animal that has adapted to its environment is the octopus. The octopus has many adaptations that make it so unique. When they are surprised or trying to evade attack by a predator, they will release a jet black ink substance that shields their getaway. Octopuses also have the power of camouflage. They can match their skin tone to almost any substance in the water in mere seconds. This helps the octopus blend in with its surroundings to avoid predation. Another animal that has adapted is the blue crab. Adult male crabs live in the low-salinity waters upstream, while adult female crabs live in the higher-salinity waters near the mouth of the estuary. Their needs mix and they meet in the middle to reproduce. This shows that even though they are the same species, they still have preferences and tolerations between different salinities and aquatic environments.
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Examples of Cooperation/Competition


Cooperation and competition both are abundant throughout the aquatic biome. One example of cooperation is the clown fish and the sea anemone. The sea anemone is a creature that has long tentacles which shock and paralyze its victims. Curiously however, the clown fish mostly resides in the sea anemone. It lives on, and feeds on the anemone. Their relationship is cooperative for a few reasons. The clown fish is believed to have a mucus on the scales that prevent it from being harmed by the sea anemone. The clown fish will feed on leftovers from the anemone's kill, as well as eat dead tentacles off the anemone. Both are benefited because the clown fish attracts prey with its bright colors , then both get the food, and the anemone gets cleaned. The anemo-
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ne also provides protection for the clown fish from other predators. Another example of cooperation is the goby fish and the shrimp. The shrimp will
dig a hole in the sand for both itself and the goby fish. Since the shrimp is almost completly blind, it is extremely vulnerable to attack. So when a predator approaches, the goby fish will alert the shrimp by hitting it with its tail. They then both retreat inside the hole. This team work allows both to accomplish what they desire.

Climate


The aquatic biome is far different than any other biome when it comes to climate. It is underwater so it is different than all the others. Precipitation is not present. Temperature varies greatly depending on many factors including; geographical location, depth of water, amount of sunlight, geothermal energy sources, and types of organisms that live in the water.


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Human Impact


The majority of human impact on the Aquatic Biome comes in the form of sewage and industrial effluence. A significant portion of the water used by humans in activities such as flushing a toilet, taking a shower, and doing the laundry is dumped into the ocean after being treated by a sewage facility. However, there is also a large amount of untreated waste water that gets dumped into the ocean. This problem occurs mainly in ocean water that is adjacent to a developing country with an insufficient waste water treatment system. This waste water is very nutrient rich and can throw off the balance of the conditions in the typical ocean water. This process is called coastal eutrophication and adds high amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous to the water. Animals cannot survive in water that is this nutrient rich, so areas that are the most affected do not support any marine life. The “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico is the most well known example of this phenomenon and covers an area of 7,728 sq miles.

In addition to sewage, industrial wastes are a huge contributor to destroying the aquatic biome. The waste water used by industries is different from the water created by commercial waste because it contains lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. This waste enters the ocean because of pipeline discharges and accidents that occur in the transportation of the water from plant to plant. Also, some companies illegally dump the untreated water into an ocean to reduce their costs. If they are caught doing this, they receive huge penalties and fines, but the illegal dumping continues to happen nonetheless. The deposit of industrial chemicals into the aquatic biome affects the growth and reproduction of marine life. This fact should really make humans think twice about polluting the ocean considering the seafood they eat may very well be contaminated by the pollutants that they contributed to the ocean. In essence, the pollution makes its way back to humans so the sewage has impacts that extend way beyond damaging the ocean.

A third prevalent human impact on the ocean is oil spills. Most of the oil enters the ocean due to leaks and spills that occur on boats that transport oil. The oil spreads throughout the ocean and poisons the aquatic life. The entire food chain gets interrupted which results in the death of a lot of fish. Also, the mammals and birds that live on nearby shores can be poisoned by the oil. The recovery from an oil spill is a long process and the effects remain for years to come.
Effects of Litter
Effects of Litter

Endangered Species


Great White Sharks are an endangered species in the ocean. Overfishing has led to their decline in population. These fish are sought after because of their teeth, jaws, and fins. They are a trophy fish so it is a great honor for any fisherman to catch one. However, the consequences of removing these Great White Sharks from the population are severe. The reduction of their population leads to an increase in the numbers of their prey such as tuna, rays, and other medium sized fish. These surviving fish end up eating more which eliminates the population of scallops and other shell fish. Due to the rarity of these shellfish, their market price increases and they become more expensive for humans to buy. Some measures have been taken by various countries such as New Zealand to reduce the amount of commercial fishing of Great Whites. These countries typically impose a fine of $250,000 and a possible 6 month prison sentence if the fisher is caught.
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Loggerhead Sea Turtles are another aquatic species that are considered endangered by many international governments. They are highly fished by people who are looking to sell their meat and eggs. Also, these turtles are highly affected by the dumping of waste into the ocean. They digest some of the debris which causes intestinal blockage and ultimately can lead to death. The population decrease of Loggerhead Sea Turtles has a significant impact that is felt throughout the aquatic biome. They have the most diverse diet of any species of turtle in existence today. They eat a wide variety of sea plants such as coral and fish such as jellyfish, squid, and even other turtles. Overpopulation will occur amongst all of the species of prey that the turtles are no longer able to eat. Also over 100 parasitic organisms live on the shell of these Loggerheads and they will have nowhere to live if the species eventually becomes extinct. Organizations exist in many countries to help preserve these turtles such as the US Fish and Wildlife Services and the Sea Turtle Association of Japan. Volunteers across the world help remove debris from beaches and the surface of the water to prevent death from choking or getting tangled. This persistent effort is beginning to once again increase the Loggerhead population.
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Blue Whales have been eliminated to a number that is approximately 1% of their original population. Whaling has become a huge problem in the Pacific Northwest due to the value of their meat and oil. Up until the 1970s, an estimated 330,000 whales were killed in the Antarctic. The 99% population reduction of Blue Whales has a great impact on the population of krill in the ocean. Blue Whales feed solely on krill and eat about 8,000 pounds of it a day. Therefore, krill population increases exponentially with the reduction of blue whales in the biome. Whaling was made illegal in the 1966 by the International Whaling Commission. This piece of legislation has led an increase of the population by about 7% per year but the world population still remains somewhere between 5,000 and 12,000.
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Non Native Invasive Organisms


  • Zebra muscles- brought over in ships water storage and are deposited in Harbors along West Coast of US.
  • Lion fish- non native to United States waters. Introduced in 1992
  • Asian Clam- Native to Southern and Eastern Asia and Africa, found in oceans and estuaries all throughout US.

Invasive within Same Trophic Level


  • Competition within the same trophic level leads to the invasive species becoming more prevalent. Lion fish prey on other native fish sources of food. This can create an imbalance in the niches and resources.
  • Spiny Water Fleas were discovered around 1984, they prey on other native species and as a result have caused a decline in the population of zooplankton in the area.
  • The Giant Reed plant also affects organisms and environmental factors within its own trophic level. It crowds out native plants species; reduces wildlife habitat; contributes to higher fire frequency and intensity; and modifies river hydrology

Invasive With other Trophic Level


  • Zebra Muscles are transported to West Coast Harbors and create many problems. They stick to each other and look for a source of heat. They find home to open pipes and tubing. They then attach themselves to the piping and can cause thousands of dollars of damage by clogging the pipes and creating backup. They have no current threat and are hard to stop from being brought over.
  • White Spotted Jelly fish were brought over in hulls of ships from pacific ocean. They prey on native species; negatively impacts shrimp industry by clogging nets and damaging fishing equipment which means they affect humans trying to do there job and make a living.
  • Chinese Mitten crab is originally from Coast of china. They were accidentally introduced and now cause damage to all sorts of plumbing, piping and any sort of sewage and water treatment plants.

Works Cited


Clark, Robert B. Marine Pollution, 4th ed. New York: Oxford Press, 1997.

Gorman, Martha. Environmental Hazards: Marine Pollution. Santa Barbara, CA: ABCCLIO, 1993.

"Oil Spills: Impact on the Ocean." Water: Science and Issues. Water Encyclopedia, 2011. Web. 01 Nov. 2011. [[http://www.waterencyclopedia.com/Oc-Po/Oil-Spills-Impact-on-the- Ocean.html]].

"Salinity." NASA Science. NASA, 23 Feb. 2011. Web. 01 Nov. 2011. http://science.nasa.gov/earth-science/oceanography/physical-ocean/salinity/.

"Threatened and Endangered Species - MarineBio.org". MarineBio.org. 1 November 2011 <http://marinebio.org/Oceans/threatened-endangered-species.asp?>.