There is no spare ocean

Have you ever wondered why the ocean should matter to all of us? Apart from being one of our favorite places, the sea provides us with multiple benefits. The truth is that, whether we live near the coast or not, the oceans influence our lives much more than we think.

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Forests and jungles

We have learned that the great producers of oxygen on our beautiful blue planet are the forests and jungles that surround us, but this is not completely true. One of every two breaths we take we owe to the ocean, since at least 50% of the oxygen we breathe is produced in the seas. Most of this production comes from seagrasses, algae, and bacteria that photosynthesize. One of these bacteria, Prochilorococcus, is the smallest organism in the world, but there are so many that it is estimated that, by themselves, they produce more oxygen than all the forests on the planet.

The ocean

The ocean contributes to the regulation of the climate, in all its extension it captures 90% of the excess heat of the atmosphere and distributes it through its marine currents. In addition, the ocean absorbs 25% of the carbon dioxide produced by humans.

Similarly, the ocean provides food for humanity and all other organisms on our planet. According to the UN More than 3,000 million people depend on the oceans for their food and if we don't take care of it there won't be enough for anyone; It is also important to bear in mind that 37% of the world's population today depend on marine resources.

 

We must highlight its importance as a thermoregulator of our planet through natural phenomena such as hurricanes and tropical storms. We are usually used to seeing these phenomena as negative effects, when in reality they have beneficial effects on biodiversity such as the ability to recharge aquifers and trigger the germination and growth of different tree species.

Natural phenomena are part of a natural process, but they are usually catastrophic due to inadequate management of the territory by human beings, for example, by building in areas that are not suitable for inhabiting and by destroying natural barriers that protect us against these phenomena, such as the case of mangrove forests and barrier reefs.

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Mexico

Mexico is recognized as one of the megadiverse countries for its wonderful biodiversity, in which the various forms of marine life stand out. The oceans represent more than 90% of the planet's habitable space and contain some 250,000 known species and many more yet to be discovered!

Unfortunately, more than 40,000 species are threatened due to our actions. Currently 37% of sharks and rays, 33% of coral reefs and 28% of crustaceans are in danger of extinction. The main causes of biodiversity loss are: plastic pollution, the introduction of invasive species, climate change and overfishing.

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Each species is important to maintain a healthy ecosystem, the extinction of a species causes an imbalance on the planet. For example, coral reefs are home to fish and provide us with food, jobs, and protection from storms. When the waters get too hot, the corals expel the microalgae that give them their color and turn white. If the bleaching happens with a frequency that does not allow them to recover, the corals die.

As well as corals, some other species in our country are in critical danger of extinction, some are: the butterfly fin fish, the Coral stag horn, the sawfish, the hammerhead shark, the Mexican axolotl and the vaquita.

 

The constant increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, leads to the oceans absorbing greater amounts of carbon dioxide at an ever faster rate. Excess CO2 absorbed by the ocean dissolves in seawater to form carbonic acid, making it more acidic as a result. The increase in acidity affects corals and molluscs, since the calcification capacity of their skeletons decreases with increasing acidification.

From the dune to the abyss

From the dune to the abyss represents the transition from the coastal dune to the depths of our ocean. Formed by three parts: coastal dune, seagrass and reef; and last but not least the seabed.

The coastal dune is formed by sand of biological origin, product of the disintegration of coral reefs and mollusk shells. The vegetation of the coastal dunes is considered pioneering, beginning the ecological successions of terrestrial vegetative communities such as mangroves.

Mangroves

Mexican's mangroves represent 5% of the world total and place our country in fourth place of the 125 countries with this ecosystem. In our country there are 6 species of mangrove. Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa), black mangrove (Avicennia germinans), button mangrove (Conocarpus erectus), Avicennia bicolor and Rhizophora harrisonii. However, the red, black, white and buttonwood mangrove species are under the category of threatened.

These wonderful ecosystems are home to animals and species in danger of extinction such as the jabiru stork (Jabiru mycteria) and threatened species such as the American flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber). In addition, they are a barrier to hurricanes. Florida's mangroves prevented $1.5 billion in direct flood damage and protected more than 500,000 people during Hurricane Irma in 2017.

One of the most important environmental services of mangroves is the so-called “blue carbon”, a term that refers to the carbon compounds captured and stored by marine and coastal ecosystems. Mangroves absorb more CO2 from the air than any terrestrial ecosystem and store it in their leaves, trunks, roots and sediment.

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References

IUCN. Consultado el 02/04/2022. https://www.iucnredlist.org/es/

IUCN. (2017). Introducción a la acidificación oceánica: Lo que es, lo que sabemos y lo que puede suceder. https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/Rep-2017-012-Es.pdf

Harrould-Koliebc E., Savitz J. (2009) Acidificación: ¿Cómo afecta el CO2 a los océanos? Oceana. Consultado el 05/04/2022. https://www.divulgameteo.es/fotos/lecturas/Acidificaci%C3%B3n-oc%C3%A9anos.pdf

UNESCO. (2006). Hablemos de los océanos. https://www.unescoetxea.org/dokumentuak/Oceanos.pdf

Allison, E.H. (2011). Aquaculture, fisheries, poverty and food security. Working Paper 2011-65. The WorldFish Center, Penang, Malaysia. 60 p. https://digitalarchive.worldfishcenter.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.12348/1163/WF_2971.pdf?sequence1=

Castillo-Briceno, P., y Navarrete-Mier, F. (2015). Potenciales Impactos de la acidificación de los océanos para las pesquerías y acuicultura Marina en Ecuador. Sociedad Latinoamericana de Acuicultura. Vol. 24: 28-33.

Pérez, L. (2017). Efecto de la acidificación en el desarrollo de dos etapas larvales de la almeja Panopea glabosa. Tesis de maestría. Centro de investigación científica y de educación superior de Ensenada, Baja California. 81 pp.

Rodríguez-Zúñiga, M.T., Troche-Souza C., Vázquez-Lule, A.D., Márquez-Mendoza, J. D., VázquezBalderas, B., Valderrama-Landeros, L., Velázquez-Salazar, S., Cruz-López, M.I., Ressl, R., UribeMartínez, A., Cerdeira-Estrada, S., Acosta-Velázquez, J., Díaz-Gallegos, J., Jiménez-Rosenberg, R., Fueyo-Mac Donald, L. y Galindo-Leal, C. (2013). Manglares de México: extensión, distribución y monitoreo. Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad, México D. F. 128 pp.

Sánchez-Mejía, S. ¿Sabías que los pastos también crecen en el océano y fijan CO2? Consultado en: https://www.cyd.conacyt.gob.mx/?p=articulo&id=479

Partensky, F., Hess, W. R. & Vaulot, D. (1999). Prochlorococcus, a marine photosynthetic prokaryote of global significance. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews, 63:106-127.

CONABIO. (2022). Dunas costeras. Consultado el 06/06/2022 en: https://www.biodiversidad.gob.mx/ecosistemas/dunasCosteras

Cervantes-Maldonado, A y Quintero, E. (2016). La importancia de conservar las praderas de pastos marinos. CONABIO. Biodiversitas, 128: 12-16.