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Marine biology

      Marine biology is the scientific study of organisms in the ocean or other marine or brackish bodies of water. Given that in biology many phyla, families and genera have some species that live in the sea and others that live on land, marine biology classifies species based on the environment rather than on taxonomy. Marine biology differs from marine ecology as marine ecology is focused on how organisms interact with each other and the environment, while biology is the study of the organisms themselves.

Marine problems

Oil spills
A staggering amount of waste - much of which has only existed for the past 60 years or so - enters the oceans each year.

Over 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based activities.
From plastic bags to pesticides - most of the waste we produce on land eventually reaches the oceans, either through deliberate dumping or from run-off through drains and rivers. This includes:

Distribution factors

       An active research topic in marine biology is to discover and map the life cycles of various species and where they spend their time. Marine biologists study how the ocean currents, tides and many other oceanic factors affect ocean life forms, including their growth, distribution and well-being. This has only recently become technically feasible with advances in GPS and newer underwater visual devices.


       Marine life also flourishes around seamounts that rise from the depths, where fish and other sea life congregate to spawn and feed.


       The deepest recorded oceanic trenches measure to date is the Mariana Trench, near the Philippines, in the Pacific Ocean at 10,924 m (35,838 ft). At such depths, water pressure is extreme and there is no sunlight, but some life still exists. A white flatfish, a shrimp and a jellyfish were seen by the American crew of the bathyscaphe Trieste when it dove to the bottom in 1960.

Vents and seeps

       Zooarium chimney provides a habitat for vent biota

       Hydrothermal vents along the mid-ocean ridge spreading centers act as oases, as do their opposites, cold seeps. Such places support unique biomes and many new microbes and other lifeforms have been discovered at these locations.

Deep sea

       The deep sea starts at the aphotic zone, the point where sunlight loses most of its energy in the water. Many life forms that live at these depths have the ability to create their own light a unique evolution known as bio-luminescence.

       In the deep ocean, the waters extend far below the epipelagic zone, and support very different types of pelagic life forms adapted to living in these deeper zones.

Surface waters

      In the open ocean, sunlit surface epipelagic waters get enough light for photosynthesis, but there are often not enough nutrients. As a result, large areas contain little life apart from migrating animals.

Open ocean

       Elevation-area graph showing the proportion of land area at given heights and the proportion of ocean area at given depths

Coral reefs

       Reefs comprise some of the densest and most diverse habitats in the world. The best-known types of reefs are tropical coral reefs which exist in most tropical waters; however, reefs can also exist in cold water. Reefs are built up by corals and other calcium-depositing animals, usually on top of a rocky outcrop on the ocean floor. Reefs can also grow on other surfaces, which has made it possible to create artificial reefs.