Marine ecology - the study of living things in the ocean and how they interact with their environment.
Broadly speaking, the marine ecosystem refers to the oceans and seas and other saltwater environments as a whole; however, it can be divided into smaller, distinct ecosystems upon closer inspection. There are various types of marine ecosystems, including salt marshes, estuaries, the ocean floor, the broad ocean, inter-tidal zones, coral reefs, lagoons, and mangroves.
In accordance with, but not necessarily because of, their large size and wide range, marine ecosystems are also easily the most diverse of all the ecosystems on the planet. Coral reefs alone are home to over 25% of all marine life, despite occupying less than 1% of the ocean floor.
The marine environment is an essential component of the global life-support system.
Oceans cover 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and provide us with food, oxygen, and jobs. But they are probably the least understood, most biologically diverse, and most undervalued of all ecosystems.
From deep oceans to coastal reefs, from mudflats to seagrass beds, ocean and marine systems provide us with essential services: carbon capture for climate mitigation, renewable energy, and protection from storm surges, to name but a few. As the global population grows, we are probing deeper and further into the oceans - for fish, oil, gas, minerals, and new genetic resources - in an attempt to keep pace with increasing consumption. This is damaging the oceans that sustain us.
Estimating the total value of marine ecosystems could provide policymakers with a strong rationale to improve ocean management and invest in marine conservation. This would reduce environmental risks and ecological scarcities while boosting human well-being.