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Algae and marine plants provide shelter and food to fish and other marine life. Many people don’t realize that algae aren’t just important to modern aquatic ecosystems – they actually provide about 80% of Earth’s oxygen, making it difficult to understate the importance of algae.
Algae and other marine plants have similarities and differences to their land cousins. Like terrestrial plants, algae require sunlight to grow and flourish. Because of this, it’s only found in depths where the sunlight can reach.
A difference between aquatic plants from terrestrial plants is that they use anchors to secure themselves to the sea floor, which are like roots but doesn’t provide any nutrients to the plant itself. Instead, nutrients are absorbed from the water.
Marine algae, which includes phytoplankton and seaweeds, are a loose group of simple organisms that contain chlorophyll. Marine algae can be found throughout the ocean and either cling to substrates like reefs or rocks or float freely. Most seaweeds are red algae, which have approximately 6,000 different species. There are also green algae with approximately 8,000 species and brown algae with approximately 2,000 species. None of these species are known to be poisonous, and many are safe for human consumption. With so many species of algae, the amount of algae information to learn is nearly endless!
All algae, including Pacific Ocean algae, have chlorophyll; however, most lack stems, vascular tissue, roots, and leaves. They play an important role in today’s aquatic ecosystems by forming the energy base of the food chain for all marine life and organisms.
Algae is an autotrophic organism that converts water to carbon dioxide and then sugar through photosynthesis. This generates oxygen as a byproduct, which is crucial in the survival of fish and most other aquatic organisms.
Without the presence of algae, bacteria would become the foundation of the food chain in the ocean. This type of ecosystem would be extremely vulnerable and eventually collapse.
Additionally, if bacteria were the foundation of life in the ocean, the probability of serious diseases and illnesses arising from consuming fish and other marine life would be high. This would also impact oxygen production and change the modern world significantly.
There is still a lot unknown about the ocean and ocean life. While scientists are working on learning as much as possible, the unknown outweighs the known.
If you want to learn more about the ocean, algae (specifically Pacific Ocean algae), and all ocean life, keep checking out our blogs. You can also get up close and personal with algae and the ocean by booking an experience with Harbor Breeze cruises. Not only do you get to enjoy time on a boat and the open water, but you can learn more about this interesting and fragile ecosystem.