Chances are you live near a body of water like a lake, river, or ocean. Majority of the most beautiful places in the world are by healthy natural bodies of water. However, these ecosystems are being greatly harmed both indirectly and directly by humans. The protection of these bodies of water should be considered a high priority because aquatic ecosystems are home to many different plants and animals. They have a large impact on our lives and when we harm them, we harm ourselves. Around 71% of the Earth is covered in water. Oftentimes we forget that these ecosystems are greatly harmed by our actions because they are out of sight and out of mind. My objective is to remind you about why aquatic ecosystems are so important, what we do to harm them, and how we can all work together to protect them.
Marine ecosystems are aquatic habitats that contain high amounts of dissolved salt. These ecosystems are mainly located in the oceans and seas. They make up around 97% of the Earth’s water.
Freshwater ecosystems are aquatic habitats that do not contain high amounts of dissolved salt. These ecosystems are mainly located in the rivers, lakes, ponds, bogs, springs, streams, and wetlands. They make up the remaining 3% of the Earth’s water.
Importance to Humans
Aquatic ecosystems support humans in many different ways. They allow for nutrients to be recycled throughout the bodies of water as well as the surrounding land areas. They also help create rich soil for farming.
Aquatic ecosystems provide a lot of materials. They provide a large percentage of the world’s food protein supply from fish and other aquatic animals. Freshwater ecosystems provide reliable and high quality drinking water. They also allow for the creation of more medicines and medicinal resources because the of the large diversity of plants and animals found in water.
Wetlands are very important in the process of naturally purifying water. The destruction of wetlands not only takes away the homes of plants and animals that live there but it is also harm the people nearby. Not having wetlands allows water born disease to travel further infecting more plants, animals, and people.
Humans use the aquatic ecosystems daily for recreational opportunities such as fishing, boating, swimming, and so much more. Healthy aquatic ecosystems are also used in education to teach children the importance of water and how these ecosystems work. Most likely everyone enjoys the beauty and diversity these ecosystems hold.
Importance to Wildlife
Clean water bodies provide habitats for animals that live both in the water and nearby. They provide a wide variety of food, such as seaweeds, fish, and other plants that grow right next to these bodies of water, for many different animals. The water is also used as a drinking source for many animals living by or passing by these ecosystems. Birds are also impacted greatly by aquatic ecosystems. Birds migrate from one aquatic ecosystem to another where they find safety, take rest, and get nutrients.
How we harm the ecosystems
There are many different ways that we harm aquatic ecosystems. The main direct harms include the overuse of freshwater. In our homes, we use around 108 gallons of water per person per day. 2,400 gallons of water are wasted per year if you have a leak of one drop per second. Chemical runoff from cities and farmlands greatly harms ecosystems. We often forget that these drains lead to the bodies of water nearby, so when trash or runoff goes in them the plants and animals that live by or in these afflicted bodies of water are in danger. Pollution is one of the most obvious problems. Around 8 million metric tons of plastics are added to our oceans yearly. Virtually everything ends up washing into the bodies of water around us. Contamination from pollution is also a huge problem. Around 750,000 gallons of water can be contaminated by just one gallon of gasoline.
Global warming is due to humans producing excessive amounts of CO2 and methane. We are gradually raising the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere. The increased heat causes stress on all ecosystems. For example, coral reefs can only handle a certain amount of heat before they start to bleach. When they bleach, many aquatic animals lose their habitats. The corals become weak which allows for strong waves, that used to be calmed by the corals, to reach the shores and endanger the people living nearby. Also rising water temperatures in freshwater ecosystems makes it impossible for many different organisms to live.
Majority of people live by a lake, river, ocean, or some other body of water. Animals, plants, and humans are all dependent on clean water being available. We all need healthy aquatic ecosystems for resources, habitats, recreational activities, and so much more. We must not forget that even though they may seem to be clean and healthy they could be in danger. I hope my photography as well as other photographers can help to keep this issue at the forefront of people’s minds. Let’s all work together to make all these aquatic ecosystems healthy, clean, and beautiful.
How are you going to help?
Let me know what you think in the comment section below:
- How important are clean bodies of water to you?
- Do you do any of things I mentioned above in my infographic?
- How are you going to help keep aquatic ecosystems clean, healthy, and beautiful?
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