At the Aquarium of the Pacific, many different oceanic habitats are presented. These exhibits give the public an idea of the different environments our own oceans hold, providing a hands-on learning experience in the comfort of their own city. The two habitats that interested me are the coral reef and deep ocean. Both the coral reef and deep ocean are very different from each other, having varied ways of survival for the plethora of plants and animals that call those places home.
In the coral reef habitat, food consumption is based on sunlight. The sunlight gives food to the plants, bacteria and algae, which is eaten by the plant eaters or herbivores, such as parrotfishes. The bigger carnivores, such as the Whitetip Reef Shark, in the ecosystem then eat those fishes along with the bacteria and plankton in the water. On the other hand, the deep sea is based on dead animal bodies or waste, shown in the fake whale carcass in the deep sea exhibit. Organisms of the deep sea feed on waste because sunlight does not have the ability to reach that deep in the ocean. Nektons are the fishes that feed on the waste produced by the epipelagic zone.
Though food is everlasting in both the coral reef and deep sea, space is very limited. Organisms in both habitats have to compete for space and survival, having defense mechanisms to keep other species from killing out their kind. Some fishes in the coral reef hide in cracks and crevices along the rocks and corals to hide from their predators. Other fishes camouflage within the brightly colored corals to hide from predators, or even humans looking into their tank. The deep sea holds many small fish, but with large mouths. The large mouths and pointy teeth help the miniscule fish eat their prey, which may be larger than they themselves. Some deep sea fishes have bioluminescence, like the tiny flashlight fish. Their “flashlights” under their eye are probably used to lure their food to them. For defense, the giant isopods can curl up like a “rolly pollie,” letting the hard shell protect the organism. As a result of the different defensive and protective mechanisms, the plants and animals in the coral reef are able to get by, furthermore creating relationships with one another.
Among the organisms in the different habitats of the ocean, many have created varied symbiotic relationships with each other. The coral reef, for example, has sea anemones. The stinging tentacles on the sea anemone may harm other animals, but they do not affect the clownfish at all. The sea anemones are home to clownfish, keeping them hidden and safe. This creates a commensal or mutual relationship between the anemone and the clownfish. The deep sea environment holds the hydrothermal vents, or “black smokers.” They, too, have a commensal relationship with the Giant Tube Worms. The Giant Tube Worms have bacteria living inside them that convert the chemicals spewing out from the vents into food. Now that I think of it, that may be the reason why...