Life in the ocean is all about communities. Whether you’re a triggerfish swimming in the coral reefs of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, or a loggerhead sea turtle exploring Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, your survival depends on the health of your community’s ecosystem.
In "Life in the Blue," take a trip to the West Coast, where kelp forests provide shelter and food for giant sea bass, sea lions, sea stars, sea urchins, and more. Holding the kelp forest ecosystem together is the sea otter, which keeps sea urchin populations—the major consumer of kelp—in check.
Then head to the live bottom reef of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary to take in a technicolor view of an ocean floor teeming with life. Here, rocky sedimentary ledges provide a home for a diverse assemblage of invertebrates.
In warmer waters, visit the coral reefs of sites like Flower Garden Banks, American Samoa, and Florida Keys national marine sanctuaries, as well as Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Coral reefs are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, and support thousands of species.
What determines where these ecosystems occur? At the end of this section, learn how seafloor features like rocky banks and salt domes shape ocean habitats and serve as driving forces in ocean communities.
Image: A diver and sea lion appraise one another in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.
Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA