|Sea turtles live in the coastal habitat.|
They may not live in nests like birds nor in dens like foxes, but marine animals do have a home. It's big and wet and salty, and they wouldn't trade it for anything we've got going on land. The ocean is the best place on earth if you're a marine animal.
On land we have neighborhoods. In the ocean there are habitats. Marine habitats are divided into four areas: coastal habitats, open ocean habitats, pelagic zone habitats, and demersal zone habitats.
A coastal habitat begins on land. It's starts where the tide touches the shore and extends hundreds of miles out at sea to the edge of the continental shelf. The majority of marine animals call the coastal habitat their home, even though it makes up only 7% of the ocean.
Sea turtles, dolphins, seahorses, sharks, and whales are among the animals found in this habitat.
|Seahorses live in the coastal habitat.|
Pelagic Zone Habitats:
|Whales live in the pelagic zone of the coastal habitat.|
Whales also live in the coastal habitat, but they--like the sea turtle--must come to the ocean surface to breathe air. As a result, whales too live in the pelagic zone of the coastal habitat. We could say that these animals live in two places at the same time.
Demersal Zone Habitats:
Those animals that stay near or on the bottom of the coastal habitat are said to live in the demersal zone. Two such animals--related to the shark--are skates and sting rays.
|Stingrays live in the dermersal zone of the coastal habitat.|
And so it is that marine animals living in the coastal habitat call more than one habitat their home.
There is one more--very different habitat--to learn about: the open ocean habitat.
Open Ocean Habitats:
Open ocean habitats are found beyond the edge of the continental shelf. Here the ocean bottom drops deep--deep--deep below. According to Smithsonian Ocean, we'd have to stack 20 Washington Monuments on top of each other just to reach the bottom.
Once we arrived at the bottom, it would be completely dark, with lots of crushing pressure, freezing temperatures, and...LIFE! According to scientists there are animals like fish, coral, jellyfish, and worms living down there. But these animals look very different than their cousins in the coastal habitat. In fact, many look like alien monsters with large eyes, fang-like teeth, big mouths, and transparent bodies. You can read more about these animals here.
The anglerfish (shown below) is one animal that lives in the ocean depths; and--like many animals down there--it has a face only a mother could love. You can read more about the anglerfish here.
|Anglerfish live in open ocean habitats.|
If you lived in the ocean, which habitat would you call home?
1. "The Deep Sea". Smithsonian Ocean. Smithsonian. Web. 28 Sept. 2018. <https://ocean.si.edu/ecosystems/deep-sea/deep-sea>.
3. "Anglerfish". Image ID: fig0695. NOAA'S Historic Fisheries Collection. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce.