Many people think of coral as hard, rock-like formations that attract abundant, diverse marine life. In fact, corals are tiny marine animals called polyps that live together in colonies.
Ocean ecosystems are found in polar regions, coastal waters, coral reefs, hydrothermal vents, the abyssal plain, and at the bottom of the sea.
These animals live all or part of their life suspended and drifting in fresh or salt water, rarely come in contact with hard surfaces.
Marine mammals are warm-blooded vertebrates that bear live young and nourish them with milk as land mammals do, but that spend most or all of their lives in the ocean.
Microbial life can be found throughout the ocean, from rocks and sediments beneath the seafloor, across the vast stretches of open water, to intertidal and surf zones.
Ocean plants are critical to marine life—they are an important food source, they provide oxygen to surrounding marine life, and they supply refuge and nursery grounds.
Seabirds have adapted to life in an ocean environment. There are many species of seabirds, and they vary greatly in behavior and physiology
Fish serve important ecological and economic functions. Ecologically, they are both predator and prey, providing food for other animals, and serve to keep the numbers of prey species in check, many of which could destroy important ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangroves if their numbers are allowed to grow.