The Basis of the Marine Life Food Chain
The Food of the Sea and Oceans Marine Life
Every creature which walks upon the Earth needs to eat, but not every creature walks the Earth. Instead they swim or crawl on the bottom of the ocean floors. Not just the ocean floors, but that of the seas, lakes, rivers and other water ways. In fact there may be millions of more species living in the water than out of it.
However while the sea is a mystery full of a vast ecology of marine life throughout the world, the life living there, still needs to eat. Bigger fish often eat smaller fish, unless they're completely vegetarian.
One creature of the oceans and the seas, which is eaten by a majority of its neighbors in the vast world underneath the sea is but a single celled organism. This organism is called plankton.
A Few Types of Plankton
Not all plankton are the same, some are considered plants instead of animals.
One of the plankton which is considered to be a plant is that within the phytoplankton category. This is probably because they use photosynthesis to gain energy. After all, plant life basically only uses photosynthesis as their source of energy.
Credit: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wikimedia Commons Among the most common of phytoplankton are the dinoflagellates and diatoms. Some phytoplankton, such as the diatoms are single celled algae. This type of algae form together into long chains.
Not all phytoplankton rely on photosynthesis alone for their energy. The dinoflagellates rely on wrapping themselves around food in order to absorb it. Not all dinoflagellates do this, but there are those which do.
It is the phytoplankton which unfortunately for them are at the lowest end of the food chain in the ocean. They are however crucial to the survival of the rest of oceans and seas ecosystem.
Zooplankton, although they are plankton their diet consists mostly of phytoplankton, their cousin. Zooplankton however are considered to be animals of the ocean rather than plants. These marine animals are usually single celled organisms and either are incapable of swimming or are weak swimmers at best.
When looking for zooplankton the best places to find them are in places where the sunlight touches or deep in the ocean.
There have been larger zooplankton as they range in size, though only a small portion of their brethren get so large. They can be as small as a tiny microbe or as big as a jellyfish.
Who Studies Plankton?
Those who study marine life in general are known as marine biologists. However marine biologists can specialize in the study of different aspects of marine life. Some could choose to study fish which is otherwise known as Ichthyology. Others may wish to study the life of invertebrates which live in the sea, ocean or other water ways which is called invertebrate zoology. It is those marine biologists studying phycology who study plankton. Or at least the plankton which fit into the study of algae.
Is Plankton an Important Part of the Marine Life Ecosystem?
Credit: Nhobgood Nick Hobgood on Wikiemedia Commons Nothing may be more important to the ecosystem of the water dwelling creatures than that of plankton, because the other creatures within the sea consume plankton. The creatures which consume plankton to survive are then eaten by bigger fish and the bigger fish are then eaten by the sharks, dolphins and whales. Were plankton to become extinct, it is highly probable, more like a sure thing, that all marine life would over time cease to exist.
Plankton really does play a crucial part in the food chain of marine life. Whether its phytoplankton or zooplankton both are necessary to the continuation of a healthy ecyosystem under water.
Possible Dangers to Plankton
Credit: Wilfredo R. Rodriguez H. on Wikimedia Commons Since we're not talking about the show SpongeBob SquarePants, the danger isn't Mr. Krabs or computer wife Karen to Plankton. No, the danger facing plankton is pollution. Pollution is a hazard to every living being on the planet Earth, including the polluters themselves.
There is so much garbage filling up land fills that no one knows what to really do with it all. Some of it isn't even biodegradable making it a larger problem week after week, month after month, year after year. Then there is also the oil spills which happen in the water ways which take the lives of a lot of critters living in the water ways, but also land animals, particularly birds.
There is also the problem of algae fuel as some phytoplankton are algae. The world is looking for a better source of fuel, but therein lies a problem despite how better biofuel is. That is that there is a possibility that turning to algae fuel could lead to the extinction of phytoplankton and then that would in all likelihood cause a domino effect of causing zooplankton to become extinct. As more plants and animals of marine life which other marine life eat become extinct, so too will the other critters sharing the same ecosystem.
It might bring down the worlds overall carbon footprint which is a problem, but it could also in turn create a whole new problem.
In the past, animals and plants have been over-harvested to the point of endangerment, if not extinction.
What Should Be Done if Algae Fuel Becomes a Reality
If algae fuel is the future of fuel, then a plan needs to be made that does not effect the population of the oceans, seas or other waterways phytoplankton or other plankton. It isn't just plankton and the fish, mammals and crustations that feed on them which could die out, but also countries which rely heavily on Marine Life for their livelihood. Such as Japan (otherwise known as Nihon) and other small islands and areas along coastlines where agriculturally the land isn't suitable for farming. Living along a coastline or on an island surrounded by waterways, the food of the land does not come from the land. It comes instead from the ocean, the sea or other waterways.
So not only is plankton important to the rest of Marine Life, but also to the peoples whom get the majority of their nutrition from creatures of the ocean and anywhere else they might exist.