The majority of life on Earth is aquatic
May 24 2021
If someone ever happened to ask you “How many different types of species does the Earth have?”, you would be unable to provide them with an exact answer.
A bold prediction is that 94% of the Earth's living species belong to the oceans and two thirds of them still remain unidentified.
Ocean life is composed of animals, plants and other organisms living in salt waters and they affect the Earth’s ecosystem tremendously. The ocean is our greatest source of oxygen. Marine microorganisms produce as much as 70 percent of the world's oxygen, according to National Geographic.
Due to the immense size of the ocean, there are still many areas to be discovered and therefore it’s impossible to know as a fact the number of species that inhabit them. Most of our planet is covered by oceans so when it comes to underwater life, we have barely scraped the surface. Since so little of the oceans has been explored, a lot of the species living under the sea have yet to be discovered. The majority of this undiscovered sea life is probably composed of sea sponges, mollusks or crustaceans.
The Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea (Australia) is the world’s biggest living structure, spreading over 130,000 square miles with an abundance of life species.
Recent research indicates that the number of marine life species is decreasing due ecosystem changes and extinction rates are moving fast not allowing the existing species to adapt to the new conditions. Climate change is taking a big part in these changes and in consequence habitat loss is increasing in areas like the Arctic, the Pacific Ocean and coral reefs. On a positive note, although there is a decrease in some marine species due to climate change, other species are evolving and adapting to the new conditions.
Preserving marine ecosystems is one of the primary strategies that researchers have been studying in the most recent years to minimize the impact of climate change. One of the most successful initiatives has been the adoption of electric vehicles instead of traditional combustion engines. If we talk about the marine ecosystem, it can greatly benefit from the lower emissions, absence of fumes or toxic residue that comes with the use of 100% electric powered boats.
- USGS. How much water is there on earth? USGS website, https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/how-much-water-there-earth, visited 27/05/21.
- National Geographic. Save the plankton, breathe freely. National Geographic website, https://www.nationalgeographic.org/activity/save-the-plankton-breathe-freely/, visited 28/05/21
- PLoS Biology. How Many Species Are There on Earth and in the Ocean? PLoS website, https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1001127, 23/08/11
- Global Change. Habitat Loss Affects Marine Life. Global Change website, https://nca2014.globalchange.gov/report/regions/oceans#statement-16748, visited 26/05/21
- NOAA. How Many Species Live in the Ocean? National Ocean Service website, https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/ocean-species.html, 26/02/21.