Deep Diving Into The Astounding Atlantic Ocean Food Chain

Oluniyi Akande
Nov 01, 2023 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Dec 14, 2021
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Learn in detail about the Atlantic Ocean food chain here at Kidadl.

The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest ocean in the world and is home to billions of living organisms.

A food chain is a network of organisms that depend on each other for nutrition, energy, and survival. The Atlantic Ocean's food web is astounding, to say the least.

This ocean covers an area of 41,100,000 sq. mi (106,448,511 sq.

km) and extends between Africa and Europe in the East and the Americas in the West. The Equatorial Counter Current divides the ocean into two parts: the Northern Atlantic Ocean and the Southern Atlantic Ocean.

Understanding the Atlantic Ocean food web will help us analyze how we are changing the ecosystem and take action on what needs to be done to keep the chain going.

Once you have finished reading this article, why not discover Pacific Ocean facts and the smallest ocean facts here on Kidadl?

Deep-Sea Environments And Ecology

The deep sea is the part of the ocean that is below 656 ft (200 m). Did you know that 75% of the deep-sea environment lies below 3280.8 ft (1000 m)?

The organisms that live in the deep sea are adapted to the harsh environment and can successfully survive and thrive there. It was only after the 1800s that scientists actually believed life could exist in the deep sea.

The deep-sea marine ecosystem consists of different organisms that share the sea. Though largely unexplored, scientists believe that there is healthy biodiversity that exists in the deep sea, which creates a continuous and flourishing food web for all species.

Producers And Consumers

Producers are those organisms that produce food, energy, or oxygen for other species to survive.

Phytoplanktons: These are first-level or primary producers and are the first link in the food web. Without them, the ocean ecosystem may not survive. Phytoplankton is a microalgae organism that is found in billions in the upper ocean. Primary producers are placed at trophic level one.

Phytoplankton is the basic food source for most herbivore species in the marine food web. Hence, they form the basis of the food web.

Phytoplanktons make their own food using sunlight, and this process is called photosynthesis. This is why they are the primary link in food chains. Without organisms that make their own food, the Atlantic Ocean ecosystem will not be able to survive.

Herbivores: Herbivores are the level-two primary producers in the food web and include all organisms that eat sea grass, seaweed, and other plants in the ocean to survive. A herbivore is any organism that feeds only on plant matter.

Herbivores come in so many sizes; starting from tiny zooplankton, small fish larva, and mollusks, to medium-sized green sea turtles, surgeonfish, parrotfish, and large manatees and dugongs. Plant eaters make up the middle of the food web.

Zooplankton: It is a group of small wandering organisms that are found in millions in the ocean. The word 'plankton' means 'wandering'. A single zooplankton may be invisible to the naked eye but in groups, they become easy prey. These can be primary consumers as well and depend on the producers for survival.

Carnivores: Just like herbivores that are primary producers, carnivores are primary consumers. A primary consumer is any organism that considers the primary producers as its energy source. A major part of these primary consumers considers zooplankton as their food and energy source.

The smaller carnivores include crabs, small varieties of fish, sea turtles, and sea snakes. Some of the top carnivores include blue whales, manta rays, dolphins, cookie-cutter sharks, seals, and sea lions. The top carnivores can eat fish and other smaller marine species.

Predators: Predators are at the top of the marine food webs. These are top predators and include sharks, killer whales, squids, and great white sharks. The food source of top predators is both carnivores and herbivores. Predators are placed at trophic level four.

Sharks are one of the top predators in the Atlantic Ocean food chain.

Seafloor Characteristics

There are different organisms inside the ocean that make up the food webs, like how there are different seafloor characteristics.

The deep ocean floor is mostly flat, but it may occasionally have guyots, seamounts, trenches, plateaus, basins, canyons, and abyssal plains. There are different shelves in the Atlantic Ocean that make up 11% of the bottom topography.

Nutrients And Oxygen

One of the most vital offerings of aquatic ecosystems, including the ecosystem of the Atlantic Ocean, is the number of nutrients it offers. Two of the most vital of these nutrients are phosphorus and nitrogen. Do you know why?

These are needed by phytoplankton and other plants to survive. Only when phytoplankton and plants grow can the entire ecosystem survive. Other essential nutrients that the ocean provides are iron, zinc, and silicon.

The process by which the ocean recycles its nutrients is called biological pumping. Underwater plant species use the nutrients to grow, and once they die, they decay, and the nutrients are pumped back to the sea. This recycling process is a part of primary production and it helps the aquatic ecosystems survive.

Researchers are of the opinion that 50-80% of the earth's oxygen is provided by the oceans. Plankton plays a primary role here. These organisms include sea algae, bacteria, and some drifting plants.

Shellfish and fan worms eat bacteria in the ocean. Planktons are considered decomposers. These oxygen producers, the fish species, the primary consumers, and all the other living organisms in the ecosystems, however, end up consuming most of the produced oxygen!

Did you know that the amount of oxygen produced by phytoplankton depends on the time of day and the tides? This is a fascinating area of research that scientists are still exploring.

Humans And Aquatic Food Webs

The aquatic food web, without human intervention, is balanced and functions normally. The phytoplankton grows with sunlight, and the herbivores eat the phytoplankton to survive. The primary consumers eat the herbivores, and the predators prey on both the herbivores and other carnivores. When these ocean animals die, their bodies release nutrients that the plankton uses to grow.

What happens when humans intervene?

Studies show that human beings cause irreparable loss to the food chains of the oceans. Energy is a bottom-up approach to energy transfer and a top-down approach to regulation.

Processes such as fishing, hunting, and whaling have all disturbed the marine ecosystems and have led to problems such as the extinction of sea animals, the destruction of algae, sea grass, and seaweed, abnormal changes to the food web, and the absence of vital food sources, predators, and preys that can harm the food web.

Apart from the seafood that humans eat, human activities cause harm to the ecosystem.

Did you know that most of the species of sea turtles are now classified as Endangered by the IUCN because of human activity? Sea turtles are affected by climatic changes and habitat destruction, and so are blue crabs. Dolphins are at the risk of being Endangered.

Of the 41 species of dolphin, about five are Endangered. Out of the 31 species of shark, 24 varieties are Endangered right now! A small number of these species of sharks are Critically Endangered.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for the Atlantic Ocean food chain, then why not take a look at why do oceanic plates go under continental plates or the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean?

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

Oluniyi Akande picture

Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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