Know your Ocean Marine Habitat

Where do animals live in the ocean?

A habitat is an area where certain animals and plants live. Marine habitats are diverse, ranging from tropical waters to polar regions, from shorelines to canyons, and from hydrothermal vents to coral reefs. These areas are home to equally varied animals, from the smallest plankton to the biggest whales. The main ocean habitats include shorelines, reefs, open waters, and deep sea.

Shore - An abundance of life is found along the shore. Some species live on land as well as in the surf, where they must adapt to shifting water levels and wave impacts. Many of them, like mussels, have hard shells for protection.

Reefs - Reefs are made up of corals and other animals that secrete a mineral called calcium carbonate, building rock formations close to shore. These habitats support complex ecosystems. Each species in a reef interacts with the others; harm to one has a domino effect on other wildlife.

Open Ocean - Life is also found in the open expanses of the ocean. These areas are packed with species who depend on the sunlight penetrating the surface. Seaweed and kelp grow in this habitat. Larger animals like whales and dolphins feed on smaller species like krill and plankton. Some of these animals travel between the open ocean and the shore.

Deep Sea including Trenches - Deep sea trenches are narrow canyons in the deepest ocean areas. This habitat has very high pressure from the water above, and no sunlight penetrates there. While big animals like whales and sharks can't live in the deep sea, others have adapted to the tough conditions. Many have gelatinous bodies. Some, like anglerfish, produce their own light called bioluminescence.

Each marine habitat is home to a beautiful array of life, and each habitat is important to the health of the World Ocean.