Marine Ecology

Marine Ecology, a sub-discipline of Ecology, is an integrative science focused on research on and assessment of the biotic and abiotic components and processes of Earth's marine and oceanic environments. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that oceans comprise an astonishing 70 percent of the Earth's surface.


This environmental medium is supplemented by estuaries and coastal areas, and such other brackish bodies of water as the Great Lakes. Marine environments and their ecology are, therefore, critical for life, human habitation, and food and other natural resources. Also, basic and applied marine ecological research address human activity that affects ocean ecosystem composition, structure and function.

  • European otter Featured Article European otter European otter

    The European otter (Lutra lutra) is a broadly distributed marine mammal found in both marine and freshwater systems over considerable portions of Europe, Asia and North Africa;... More »

  • Atlantic hydrothermal vent life Featured News Article Atlantic hydrothermal vent life Atlantic hydrothermal vent life

    Explorers on NOAA expedition discover chemosynthetic shrimp, tubeworms together for first time at hydrothermal vent, also first live vent tubeworms seen in Atlantic waters... More »

  • Overfishing Featured Article Overfishing Overfishing

    Overfishing is the human act of extracting aquatic (that is, marine and freshwater) fauna from natural water bodies at a rate greater than the reproductive and recruitment... More »

  • Abyssal zone Featured Article Abyssal zone Abyssal zone

    The Abyssal zone (from the 4o C isotherm at 2000 to 3000 meters in depth down to about 6000 meters) is a term in oceanography which originally (before the mid-1800s) meant the... More »

  • South African fur seal Featured Article South African fur seal South African fur seal

    The South African fur seal (also Also known as the Cape fur seal, Australian Fur Seal; scientific name: Arctocephalus pusillus) is one of 16 species of marine mammals in the... More »

  • Catching a Coral Killer Featured News Article Catching a Coral Killer Catching a Coral Killer

    First ever case of human-caused marine disease. Catching a Coral Killer Coral reefs play an important role in marine ecosystems, so it's concerning to scientists,... More »

  • Porkfish Featured Article Porkfish Porkfish

    The porkfish (scientific name: Anisotremus virginicus) is a member of the grunt family (Family Haemulidae) that lives on coral reefs in the Western Atlantic Ocean and... More »

  • Wrasses Featured Article Wrasses Wrasses

    Wrasses (the family Labridae) are the most abundant and conspicuous fishes on tropical reefs around the world. Wrasses also comprise an important element of the coldwater fish... More »

Recently Updated
Adriatic Sea Last Updated on 2015-09-29 15:00:08 The Adriatic Sea is a branch of the Mediterranean Sea lying between 2 (50,590 miles2). The Adriatic has a maximum depth of 1233 metres (m) and an average depth of 252 m; although north of a line from Zadar, Croatia to Pescara, Italy, it is less than 100 m deep. The northern end of the sea is the Gulf of Venice and its southern limit is the Strait of Ontranto. By European standards, the Adriatic is both warm (surface water temperature ranges from 8-13oC in winter to 22-25oC in summer) and low in turbidity; correspondingly, this sea is a  popular tourist destination. Map of the Adriatic Sea basin. Source: Norman Einstein/Wikimeia Commons True-color Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image from May 18, 2002. Source: NASA The Adriatic coastline is heavily indented and includes many islands. As a result the coastline is... More »
Spratly Islands Last Updated on 2015-06-01 15:45:31 The Spratly Islands consist of more than 150 small islands or reefs scattered over a sea area of nearly 360,000 square kilometres in the South China Sea, about two-thirds of the way from southern Vietnam to the southern Philippines. The closest countries to the Spratly Islands are Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines. Abundant in marine biodiversity, the Spratly Islands lie in rich fishing grounds and potential gas and oil deposits. (See Energy profile of South China Sea) These islands are strategically located near several primary strategic shipping lanes in the central South China Sea. There are no indigenous inhabitants. But there are scattered garrisons occupied by military personnel of several claimant states, notably the Philippines. They are claimed in their entirety by Taiwan, Vietnam and China, while portions are claimed by Malaysia and... More »
Alcids in marine ecosystems Last Updated on 2015-04-11 18:42:04   Alcidae is the name for a family of marine birds that includes murres, razorbills, dovekies, puffins, guillemots, auklets, and murrelets. They are commonly referred to as alcids or auks. These birds of the open ocean spend most of their lives at sea, coming to shore only to breed. Most alcids are colonial breeders, nesting in dense colonies on mainland cliffs or offshore islands, where they are inaccessible to terrestrial predators. They are long-lived and socially monogamous, often returning to the same nesting site to mate with the same partner, year after year. Females lay a single egg (or two eggs in a few species), and both parents contribute to egg incubation, chick brooding, and feeding the nestling(s) until they are ready to leave the nest for the sea. Three distinct chick-rearing strategies exist among the alcids. Chicks of most species remain at the nest site and... More »
Marine biodiversity and food security Last Updated on 2015-02-28 19:05:44 Harvesting of wild fish and shellfish from the oceans provides food to the earth’s population, particularly in the developing world, and is a major contributor to the world economy. In the USA alone, fishing supports an industry worth nearly $50 billion annually. Although fishing commenced very early in human history, it was during the 20th century that its reach and impact spread around the globe and into deep waters, first with the advent of motorized vessels near the turn of the century, and later as a result of widespread availability of cheap oil, refrigeration, and increasingly effective technology. These developments made fishing an intensive global industry, particularly after Word War II. Modern fisheries, including both landings and by-catch, currently consume 24-35% of global marine primary production in the continental shelf and major upwelling areas,... More »
Daugava River Last Updated on 2015-01-12 07:37:16 The Daugava River drains portions of the countries of Latvia, Belarus and Russia, prior to discharging to the Gulf of Riga. Also known as the West Dvina River, this watercourse is the fourth largest river discharging to the Baltic Sea catchment. This 1005 kilometer long river has suffered environmental damage from agricultural runoff and from hydroelectric dam construction, with major impacts dealt in the Soviet era of collective farming. In ancient history the Daugava estuary was a locus of prehistoric settlement, and later marked one of the eastern limits of the voyages of the Vikings. The lower Daugava valley (nearest the Gulf of Riga) was formed in relatively recent times, as glacial meltwater formed incision on the relatively level terrain near the Baltic Sea coast; these events occurred in the early Holocene, approximately 11,000 years before present. The relatively soft upper... More »