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Ways to Protect the Environment

Sustainable Fishing
Exploring Pollution Solutions
Protecting Habitats
Understanding Global Climate Change
 Protecting Habitats

Overview | Coastal Development | Introduced Species | What is Being Done?


photo of a marine habitat

What is a habitat and why is it important?

All organisms (living things) have a habitat—a home or place where they are able to meet their needs for life. Different organisms meet their needs in different ways; therefore habitats are very diverse. A habitat may be big or small, on land, in the ocean, or deep within hot volcanic rock. The diverse habitats on Earth are all interconnected. They do not have clear borders, not even between land and sea. An example of this is an underwater coral reef habitat connected to a mountain top habitat. When a large storm washes sediment off the land and into the ocean, the sediment may blanket the coral reef. Coral may die as a result, affecting the habitats of many organisms that live in and around coral reefs. This is one example of how a habitat can change. Habitat changes can be caused by natural events such as hurricanes or tsunamis, or by human disturbances.

What are some kinds of marine habitats?

Some marine organisms have large and varied habitats:

Marine habitats include the places where ocean-dwelling organisms live and meet their needs. Many marine animals migrate far distances during the year and use a variety of habitats. For example, sea turtles use the open ocean, coastal areas, and beaches during their lifetimes. They may migrate hundreds of miles between their breeding territory and their feeding territory. Some organisms, such as the Black-footed Albatross, move throughout the entire Pacific Ocean. These birds breed in the Hawaiian Islands and in Japan.

Some marine organisms have very specific habitats:

Some marine organisms live in small and specific habitats that meet their needs. For example, phytoplankton only live in the surface layers of the ocean because phytoplankton need access to sunlight. There are marine bacteria that only live in deep ocean vents where they use sulfur from inside the Earth to produce sugar.

Research Links Related to Protecting Habitats:

 Species Affected by Protecting
  Harp Seal
Polar Bear
Common Dolphin
Leatherback Turtle
Loggerhead Turtle
Green Sea Turtle
Black-footed Albatross
Pink-footed Shearwater
Southern Elephant Seal
Greater Shearwater
Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle
Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
Harbor Seal
Hawksbill Turtle

 Activities Related to Protecting
  Predators Among Us
147 KB, pdf
This lesson will focus on human beings as predators, specifically in coral reef ecosystems.

 Other Resources Related to Protecting
  Deep Sea Coral
280 KB, mpeg,
There is coral at the bottoms of oceans all over the world, often over a mile deep.

Saving Crop Diversity
1434 KB, mpeg, audio clip
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault will store a backup collection of the worlds seeds to save crop diversity.

Saving the Earth's 'last dinosaurs'
360 KB, mpeg, audio clip
Leatherback turtles are not actually dinosaurs, but they are ancient and amazing animals.

Sea Turtles Dig the Dark
2940 KB, mpeg, video
Public Service Announcement put out by the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect sea turtle nesting habitats.

 Sponsored by:
NASA logoNational Aeronautics and
Space Administration

(NASA Award NCC5433)
NOAA logoNational Oceanic &
Atmospheric Administration

(NOAA Award NA06SEC4690006)

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