What is Aquatic Ecosystem | Functions & Importance to Man

An Aquatic ecosystem is a habitat comprising of living beings residing within a water body.

This waterbody can include marine and freshwater bodies.

The living beings include animals, fishes, snails, reptiles, plants and microbial flora in the sea and oceans.

The aquatic system consists of more than 70% of the earth.

All the human waste, rainfall water, rivers, etc. flow towards the oceans.

So in some way, these aquatic bodies act as dump yards beyond the limit.

But from the time life emerged on earth, there has been a balanced aquatic ecosystem.

Due to pollution, petroleum refineries, industrial dump, the aquatic ecosystem is losing its health. Currently, the aquatic system is highly polluted in some areas and also in grave danger of extinction.

If we continue this level of exploitation, then more of the ecosystem gets damaged and can get extinct.

What is Aquatic Ecosystem

Aquatic ecosystem: The aquatic ecosystem comprises the living organisms in the aquatic world.

There is a food chain within every aquatic ecosystem.

This chain is a way of mutual existence of living beings. It includes microbes, plants, fishes, animals, insects, reptiles, mollusks, etc. (both fresh and marine waters).

Plants———-> Small Fish——–> Big Fish———>Man

what is aquatic ecosystem
Image Credit: Michigan University

Importance of aquatic ecosystem:

1. Source of fish: Aquatic ecosystem is the biggest source of fish which vital food for humans. Fish food is rich in vitamins especially preformed vitamin A.

This fish meat is also a good diet as it is subjected to minimal artificial chemicals and processed foods.

Further, they are free from any infections and diseases compared to other meat-producing animals and fish grown in fish ponds.What is aquatic ecosystem

Besides fish, humans also consume prawns, oysters, snails, crabs, etc.

From a fish diet, one can even get omega fatty oils which are good for cardiac health.

Due to global warming, the scientists suspect that land area for cultivation will go down as ocean levels rise. Then the only source of food for humans will be fish and other marine foods.

So they are even exploring ways how to sustain life by depending on marine food in the future.

2. Source of medicine: The Marine aquatic system is also a great source of medicines. We use them on a regular basis for promoting life span and get rid of diseases. The examples include

♦ Calcium from oyster: Calcium is the key supplement for bone strength. It is one of the largest sold supplements in the world owing to its demand for old age and also orthopedic injuries.

Such a large demand of organic calcium is met from the marine supply.

Even the normal calcium carbonate available from land is also sold but it is less preferred to oyster calcium. This is because the oyster calcium has better absorbance into the blood and is more effective in healing the bone-related problems.

So when you buy a calcium strip next time notice the label. It says either organic calcium or oyster calcium. This oyster calcium is obtained from the oyster shells from the marine.

♦ Cod liver oil: This oil is obtained from fish for its omega-3 oils.

♦ Shark liver oil: Sharks are the deadly animals of the aquatic ecosystem. But still, they are useful to man. The shark liver oil has many claims like wound healing etc.

♦ Anti-cancer drugs: Marine life is said to be a source of many anti-cancer drugs. Ex: Yondelis, kahalalide F, Bryostatin They are obtained from sponges and algae.

♦ Alginic acid: This is derived from brown algae. It is used as a gelling agent in food, medicine preparation and also in cell immobilization.

♦ Agar: A jelly material obtained from red algae is used as a suspension medium for tissue culture and bacterial culture.

Salt industries: Table Salt is made from seawater by a drying process. This is one of the oldest industries which provides revenue for many people in the region.
Transport: Transport by sea or oceans is one of the least expensive methods. This transport has been in place for many centuries. Now they transport goods by ships from seaport to the other. Though we have travel options through air and land. They are expensive and hence only small quantities and items can be transported. But those which are to be exported in bulk like the wheat, petroleum, etc. are done by ships. This is time-consuming but it is very cheap compared to other modes of transport.
Source of minerals: Aquatic beds are some of the richest sources of minerals, petroleum and other products. Hence, you can notice countries trying to claim entire seas and oceans as theirs. It is also believed that there are many ores, diamonds, gems and other valuables in the sea bed. Even pearls which are expensive gemstones are obtained from pearl oysters aquatic animals.
 
In fisheries farming: Fisheries are other means of farming for agriculturists. The land can be converted to ponds to grow fish, prawns, etc. This acts as a good revenue source for many farmers. This fishery business is possible due to the aquatic ecosystem.
The aquatic ecosystem especially the marine is getting polluted a lot due to oil spillage, chemical pollution, plastic waste, excess use of insecticides and pesticides. This leads to the death of many fish and marine animals. Further humans desire whale meat and other exploitation for petroleum lead to an imbalance of the aquatic ecosystem.
We need to take steps to conserve this ecosystem for the benefit of life on the earth.

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