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An ocean current refers to a continuous water flow in the ocean following a defined path. This occurs either at the surface of the ocean or below the surface, it also may be parallel or vertical to the surface. These currents are either caused by wind or changes in density (Thermohaline currents). Ocean currents affect the climate, temperatures, and biotic systems especially the fisheries but also those plants and animals on the seashore (Gray et al. 1).
Ocean currents affect marine life in different ways some of these include; as water flows along a given path, there are many sea animals along the same path. Depending on the strength of the ocean current, sea animals along the path are flown along with the water, and the animals are moved to new regions that are sometimes thousands of kilometers away causing redistribution of marine life. During the flow, nutrients are also moved from the bottom of the sea and exposed to sunlight in the process called upwelling. This increases marine nutrients leading to the increased nutrient provision to marine life.
Ocean currents sometimes cause the movement of warmer water to colder regions or cold water to water regions. This interferes with the temperature of the water and may affect sensitive marine life in the region like it may end up freezing some marine animals to death. This paper discusses how the ocean currents affect marine animals with particular reference to turtles, sea urchins, and Nektones
Ocean Currents and Marine Turtles
Marine turtles rely entirely on ocean currents for their movements. Young marine turtles especially are moved to their pelagic nurseries by ocean currents and these serve as their habitats. The hatching of turtle eggs relies on oceanic tides and more especially on the frontal tides. This reduces the risk of exposing these eggs to predators. The fertilization of the turtle eggs also depends on ocean waves that transport the larvae to allow for fertilization to occur.
During the development of these turtles, their movement is still aided by ocean currents like in the case of searching for food they flow along with the currents to newer regions that could have food to keep them alive. The turtles are cauterized by two major directional movements where one is usually to the feeding area and the other to the nesting area; both two movements are aided by oceanic currents (Luschi, HAys, and Papi 294).
These are families of sea animals that are strong swimmers and large enough to have the strength to propel against ocean currents. Their bodies are streamlined such that they move swiftly. These include fishes, whales, and Dolphins. Ocean currents have such effects on these sea animals as they bring food to them from the shores and other places so the animals can feed on it. Besides the food, they cause the animals to move about and this allows the animals to be away from predators for their survival. During winter, ocean currents cause oceans waters to swirl around which causes a warming effect on the water and this allows the animals to survive the cold weather.
During summers, cold water from the Polar Regions is flown causing a cooling effect in the warmer regions. The currents also allow the animals to migrate or relocate to more accommodating weather conditions. Animals play in water and ocean current give the animals the whirling effect that gives the sea animals especially the large sea animals like Dolphins to whirl out and enjoy the changing weather.
Sea urchins and the starfish are greatly affected by ocean currents just like the other sea animals. Their larvae are transported over long distances to allow for fertilization to occur anywhere in the sea. These currents also aid the movement of these sea urchins. This allows them to have easy access to food, to redistribute to regions that are unoccupied and maybe unexploited. However, it should be noted that sometimes very strong oceanic currents can cause the death of sea urchins (Gray et al. 7)
Ocean currents are water movements in large volumes along a given path in the oceans, seas, or any large water bodies. These movements are usually caused by wind or the upwelling movement in the water bodies. It is important for the sea animals as it causes their movement to food-rich areas or brings feed to the animals. Food is the most essential part of the survival of any creature including those in large water bodies. Ocean currents are therefore inevitable to the survival of sea animals as they cause the flow of food nutrients within the sea.
Gray Eileen, Alexander Ann, Darling Tina, and Sharkey Nelda. “Moving water-Ocean currents and winds.” Drifters, 1998. Web.
Luschi Paolo, HAys Graeme, and Papi Florian. A review of long-distance movement by marine turtles and possible role of ocean currents. Cesenatico: Oikos, 2003.