Oceanography Final Study Guide

Know These Topics, Facts and Concepts


Part I  -  Marine Life

A. Marine Life – Classification, Physical Factors, and Habitats


Chapter in Perspective
Chapter 12
Concept Checks and Key Concepts Review


Terms and Concepts to Remember:




food web


limiting factor


natural selection

pelagic/neritic zones



euphotic/disphotic zones



trophic pyramid

primary producer

primary consumer

primary productivity





Learning Objectives:

1. Briefly describe the six biological kingdoms

2. Explain how marine are classified.

3. List and briefly describe the major controlling physical factors

4. Discuss how the different physical factors and biological factors affect marine life

5. Explain how the total primary productivity in land communities nearly equals the total primary productivity in ocean communities; but, the biomass of primary producers in the ocean is nearly 1,000 times smaller than the biomass of primary producers on the land

6. Describe the different zones of the marine environment by quantity of light

7. Describe the different zones of the marine environment by distance from a continental shoreline

8. Describe the different zones of the marine environment in terms of pelagic and benthic.

9. Explain the how marine food webs can exist near undersea hydrothermal vents

10.  Describe and explain how life has changed through time in the ocean.

11. Explain the basic concepts of biological evolution, in terms of life responding to environmental pressures.

12. Explain the concept of  natural selection”.


B. Primary Productivity --- Plankton, Algae, and Plants


Chapter in Perspective
Chapter 13
Concept Checks and Key Concepts Review


Terms and Concepts to Remember:



accessory pigment










plankton bloom


sea grass




multicellular algae


compensation depth


Learning Objectives:

1. Differentiate between phytoplankton and zooplankton

2. Discuss the factors that limit marine primary productivity

3. Explain where plankton productivity is the highest, and explain why

4. Describe the four most important groups of organisms contributing to primary productivity in the ocean

5. Describe how seaweeds are classified

6.  Explain “compensation depth”

7. List some commercial products available from diatoms and from seaweeds


C. Marine Animals – Pelagic and Benthic Communities



Chapter in Perspective
Chapters 14 and 15
Concept Checks and Key Concepts Review


Explore Online:

Classification of Marine Animals


Terms and Concepts to Remember:

vertebrate / invertebrate


suspension feeder

radial symmetry

swim bladder


oxygen revolution






gas exchange


salt glands

water-vascular system







intertidal zone





carrying capacity


environmental resistance





eurythermal / stenothermal

J-curve / S-curve

climax community

euryhaline / stenohaline

population density



Learning Objectives:

Part 1: The Invertebrates

1. State when the first true animals evolve and describe what atmospheric changes had to happen before the first true animal life was possible

2. List evolutionary advances characteristic of higher organisms that are first seen in the worms

3. State which invertebrate animal phylum is most "successful" and which invertebrate phylum is most primitive

4. State which marine invertebrate is most intelligent and which is the largest

5. Explain how an arthropod grows without getting bigger, and yet gets bigger without growing

6.  List the major groups of the invertebrates, and explain what makes each group unique from the others


Part 2: The Vertebrates

1. List the seven classes of vertebrates and provide examples

2. Identify which class of vertebrates has no permanent marine representative

3. List the classes of living fishes and indicate which class is: most primitive, most advanced, largest individuals, most economically important

4. State which marine animal phylum is: most advanced, largest sized members, most intelligent members

5. State the name of the largest fish and state the name of the largest marine animal

6. Differentiate between dolphins and porpoises; sea birds and land birds; baleen whales and toothed whales

7.  Discuss the origin of the marine mammals.


Part 3: Communities

1. Differentiate between: population and community; niche and habitat; photosynthesis and chemosynthesis

2. Describe a typical population growth curve and indicate what factors influence the curve's shape

3. Explain the richness of the rocky intertidal zone despite the many problems and rigors facing its inhabitants

4. Explain how inhabitants of hydrothermal vent communities differ from other deep seafloor organisms

5. Indicate the source of nutrition for hydrothermal vent communities

6. Describe and give examples of three types of symbiosis

7. Describe the residents of the most sparsely populated marine habitat


Part II  -  Marine Resources


Lecture Notes (Below) 

Chapters 13, 14 and 15
Concept Checks and Key Concepts Review

Explore Online:

Lesson 11 - Energy from the ocean
Lesson 12 - Food, water and medicine from the sea


Terms and Concepts to Remember:


drift net


maximum sustainable yield

exclusive economic zone




commercial extinction


Learning Objectives:

1. Differentiate between and give examples of : physical resources; biological resources; marine energy resources; renewable and nonrenewable resources

2. Explain how petroleum oil and natural gas form

3. Describe the pros and cons of exploiting methane hydrate deposits

4. Explain several methods of ocean energy extraction

5. List observations that support the statement that most of the world's marine fishes are overfished

6. Distinguish between mariculture and aquaculture; bykill and overfishing

7. Explain why drift net fishing is banned

8. Explain why bottom drag-trawling is so destructive to benthic environments

9. The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California maintains an up-to-date list of seafood obtained in deleterious ways or from endangered stocks. For the most recent information got to seafoodwatch.




    I. Marine Economics

          A. Definition of “Economy” -

1.     Defined

2.     Who is part of the marine economy?

Who makes the decisions concerning what is produced, how it is produced, how much, where it is going, and for how much money?

B. Supply and Demand of Marine Products and Services in Global Markets

1.     Not a truly “free market” system

2.     Some negative aspects of products and services not included in price

3.     Level of growth and exploitation of marine resources

·        Nearly all resources currently exploited at unsustainable rates

·        Little in the way of global regulation and moderation


C. What makes a resource economically feasible?  Unfeasible?

1.    Cost considerations

·        Exploration

·        Research and Development

·        Exploitation/Extraction

·        Transportation

·        Marketing

·        Supply and Demand

·        Competing land-based resources

·        Benefits versus Harmful effects


II. Various Types of Marine Resources

          A. Physical Resources

1. Hydrocarbon deposits

·        Types

o       Petroleum (oil)

o       Natural Gas

o       Methane hydrate

·        Importance

v    Offshore oil and gas generated $300 billion in revenues in 2001

v    35% oil extraction from seabed

v    25% natural gas extraction from seabed

v    1/3 of world’s known reserves occur along continental margins

·        Locations in the USA

v    California, Louisiana, and Texas continental margins

v    North Slope of Alaska

·        Formation of Oil and Gas

v    Nearly always associated with marine shelf sediments

v    Most likely forms from planktonic and/or soft-bodied benthic organisms that die and fall to the seafloor

v    Collect in quiet, low-oxygen basins

v    Progressively buried organic matter slow-cooked

v    Takes millions of years to form

v    Oil and gas rises and collects in geologic structural “traps”

v    Concentrated in porous rock “reservoir” formations beneath an impermeable rock cap layer

·        Offshore drilling and extraction of oil and gas is far more expensive than land-based operations

·        Very little likelihood of oil and gas deposits in the deep ocean seabed

·        Methane hydrate is by far the most abundant hydrocarbon on Earth

v    In the form of methane-laced ice trapped in sediments on the continental shelves

v    Very costly and dangerous to exploit

v    Could pose a significant factor in global warming


2.    Mineral Resources

·        Sand and Gravel

v    Presently most commercially profitable

·        Salts

v    Extracted using evaporation ponds along arid shorelines

v    Various salts are segregated by systematic shifting of the brines

·        Magnesium

v    Third most abundant element in seawater

·        Manganese nodules

v    Litters the deep ocean abyssal plains

v    Also rich in iron, copper, nickel and cobalt

v    Represents a 2000-year supply at current consumption rate

v    Presently no commercial mining

·        Phosphorite deposits

v    Important fertilizer and industrial chemical source

·        Metal sulphides

v    Concentrated at deep-sea volcanic centers such as mid-ocean spreading centers and rift zones

v    Rich in zinc, copper, iron, lead, silver, and cadmium

v    Precipitate from hot mineral-rich hydrothermal fluids ejected at black and white smoker vents


3.    Fresh Water

·        Desalinization

v    Methods include distillation, reverse osmosis, and freezing

v    Over 1,500 plants operating worldwide

v    Desalinization is generally an expensive process

·        Iceberg harvesting

v    Towing of Antarctic icebergs to urbanized coastal centers 


B. Energetics ResourcesTapping Ocean energy

1. Wind

·        Fastest growing source of energy in the world

2. Waves and Currents

·        Wind waves

v    Greatest surface energy source

·        Tidal Currents

v    Commercially-proven technology

·        Ocean Currents

v    Example: Gulf Stream

3. Thermal Gradient

v    The greatest potential for ocean energy by far

v    Proven technology

v    Limited to the deep-ocean tropics

v    Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) systems

4.     All ocean energy sources are

v    Renewable – virtually inexhaustible

v    Very Clean

v    Presently uneconomical, except for wind


C. Biological Resources

1.    Fish, Crustaceans, and Mollusks

·        The most valuable living marine resource

·        130 million tons landed in 2001 by commercial fisherman

·        2001 worldwide marine catch estimated at $90 billion

·        Fewer than 500 species are regularly caught on a commercial scale

·        15 million people employed worldwide in the fisheries industry

·        Most dangerous job in the USA

·        Roughly half of worldwide marine catch taken by only five counties

·        Roughly 75% of annual worldwide catch taken by commercial fishers


2.    Whaling

·        Hunted since the late 1800’s

·        Taken for their meat, bones and blubber (oil)

v    Meat for human and animal food

v    Bones for fertilizer and foods supplements

v    Oil for lubrication and many other uses

·        Estimated 4 ½ million whales lived around 1900

·        Today there is an estimated 1 million whales remaining

·        Eight of the eleven large species of whales are commercially extinct

·        Moratorium on large whaling hunting made by International Whaling Commission in 1986

·        Norway and Japan  have ignored the moratorium


3.    Fur-bearing mammals

·        Killed for their fur

v    Mostly seals and sea lions

v    Close to ½ million animals taken

v    Illegal in USA except the northern seal


4.    Botanical

·        Marine Algae

v    Algin for wide variety of uses

ü     Food and beverages

ü     Cosmetics

ü     Fabrics

ü     Paints and inks

·        Seaweeds

v    Eaten directly as food


   5.  Fishery (Mis)management and Government subsidies

·        Concept of “maximum sustainable yield

v    Defined

v    Critical importance to properly managed fisheries.

v    Presently many fisheries are at this limit or even over it.

·        Concept of “commercial extinction” of marine species

v    Defined

v    Numerous examples

ü     Orange roughy


v    U.S. National Fisheries Service estimates that 45% of the fish stocks of whose status are known are “overfished”.

v    Dominant motivating force of industry is short-term profit.

·        Government subsidization of commercial fisheries

v    Industry spent $124 billion to catch $70 billion worth of marine life in 1995



          6. Commercial Fishing Practices

·        Types of disruptive, mistargeted, commercial-scale fishing techniques

v    Long-line fishing

v    Bottom trawling

v    Drift net fishing

·        The above types of fishing techniques produces considerable “bykill”.

v    Bykill defined

v    Impact on marine communities from bykill

·        Commercial fishing enterprises rarely use reason or restraint in their fishing practices.


          7. Aquaculture

·        Aquaculture defined

·        Currently produces more than ¼ of all fish consumed by humans

·        Most aquaculture occurs in Asian countries

·        Mostly freshwater fish

·        By 2010 aquaculture may overtake cattle ranching as a food source


          8. Mariculture

·        Mariculture defined

·        Mainly done along shorelines in estuaries, bays, and inlets

·        About 1/8 to that of aquaculture production worldwide

·        Several types of marine animals are “farmed” on a large-scale

v    Salmon and plaice

v    Shrimp

v    Oysters and abalone

·        Several types of marine animals are “ranched”

v    Salmon

v    Yellowtail and Blue fin tuna

·        Oyster and salmon mariculture are profitable enterprises in the USA

v    Annual revenues exceeding $150 million


          9. Drugs from the Sea

·        Estimated that 10% of marine organisms have useful drug compounds

·        Several groups of organisms have already showed promising derivatives

v    Sponges

v    Corals

v    Tunicates

v    Bryozoans

v    Annelids


D. Nonextractive Resources

1. Defined

2. Transportation and Recreation are the two main types

3. Transporting

·        Cargo

v    Primary payload is crude oil

ü     Accounts for 53% of shipped tonnage

ü     ½ of world’s oil shipped via tankers

v    Iron, coal, and grain make up another 24%

·        Passengers

v    Waterway commuter routes

v    Cruise ship industry

      4. Recreation

·        Pleasure boating

·        Whale watching, fishing, scuba diving and surfing charters


E. Renewable versus Nonrenewable Resources

          1. Define the difference

          2. Examples of each


III. Law of the Sea

1. Concept of “Law of the Sea” initially defined in 1609 by a Dutchman

·        Forms basis of modern international maritime laws

    2. Concept of “Territorial Waters” first defined in 1703

    3. Modern day Law of the Sea

·        Modern “Law of the Sea” drafted and signed by delegates to the United Nations Draft Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982.

v    USA voted against it

·        The modern “Law of the Sea” document contains the following features:

v    Territorial waters defined

ü     Placed at the 12-mile limit from shore

v    Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) defined

ü     Placed at the 200-mile (370 kilometers) limit from shore

ü     National sovereignty over resources, economics, and environmental protection

ü     About 40% of world ocean under control of coastal countries within the EEZs

v    “High seas” defined

ü     All areas outside the EEZ’s

ü     Common property to all world citizens

ü     International Seabed Authority established to oversee exploitation of deep sea bottom mineral resources

v    Protection and management of world ocean

v    Concerns regarding resources and pollution



Part III  -  Marine Pollution and Environnemental Concerns


Lecture Notes (Below):


Terms and Concepts to Remember:






point source

non-point source


excessive nutrients


synthetic organics

heavy metals


urban runoff

solid wastes



air pollution

greenhouse gases

global warming

ozone layers

estuaries concerns

polar concerns

sea level rise

glacier melting

carbon footprint

carbon dioxide

sustainable living

“inconvenient truth”

Kyoto Protocol


Learning Objectives:

1.  Explain the difference between a pollutant and pollution.

2.  Characterize sources and effects of pollutants on the marine environment; note the difference between point- and non-point sources.

3.  Examine pathways of contaminants through marine ecosystems and food webs.

4. Explain the different types of negative anthropogenic impacts on the global oceans including physical, chemical and biological processes.

5.  List the 10 major types of pollutants entering the ocean, including each type’s major negative effects.

6.  Understand the methods used to assess and quantify marine pollution

7.  Understand the complexity of the marine pollution problem and the impact of our behavior.

8.  Connect the term “marine pollution” to facts and a thorough mechanistic understanding permitting effective discussions and decision making.

9.  Explain strategies designed to reduce marine pollution.

10.  Explain the concept of global warming

11.  List and describe the major types of greenhouse gases, and where and how they are generated.

12.  Explain how humans are inextricably involved in the current global warming pattern on Earth

13.  Describe ways that we can minimize our carbon footprint in an effort to minimize global warming risks




           I. Marine Pollution

A.   Marine Pollution Defined

1.    Define ‘marine pollution’

2.    Define ‘pollutant’

3.    Distinguish between natural and human-generated pollutants


B.   Sources of Marine Pollutants

1.    Runoff and discharges from land

2.    Airborne emissions from land

3.    Shipping and accidental spills

4.    Ocean dumping

5.    Offshore mining, oil, and gas drilling


C.   Charateristics of Pollutants

1. Define ‘toxicity’

2. Toxicity according to concentration and organism

·        High concentration versus low concentration toxicity

·        Selective toxicity according to type of organism

3. Biodegradable versus nonbiodegradable

·        Define ‘biodegradable’

·        Define ‘nonbiodegradable’

·        Ways pollutants become broken down in the ocean

v    Physical processes

v    Chemical processes

v    Biological processes

4. Persistence of a pollutant in the ocean

·        Persistence varies according to each specific pollutant

·        Nonbiodegradable pollutants resist breakdown

v    Due to synthetic nature of compounds

v    Resemble nothing in nature

v    May reside in ocean for thousands of years


D.   Types of Marine Pollution

1. Oil Pollution

·        Both natural and human-induced oil pollution occurs

·        Crude oil less toxic than refined oil products

·        Sources and Amounts of Oil pollution (in million metric tons)

v    Shipping (1.9)

v    River runoff (1.6)

v    Industrial and Sewage wastes (0.6)

v    Input from air (0.6)

v    Natural seeps (0.6 – 10% of total)

v    Urban runoff (0.3)

v    Tanker accidents (0.2)

v    Coastal refineries (0.2)

v    Offshore oil production (0.1)

·         Largest Oil Spills Since 1980 – Ranked (millions of gallons)

v    #1 – Discharge into Persian Gulf during Gulf War

v    #2 – Well spill into Bay of Campeche, Mexico

v    #3 – Tanker Atlantic Empress

2. Heavy Metals

·        Toxic effects of heavy metals

v    Very toxic in very samll amounts

v    Immune supressor

v    Interferes with normal cell metabolism

v    Brain damage

v    Birth defects

v    Concentration buildup upwards marine food chain

Ø     Called biological amplification

·        Types of heavy metals

v    Lead

v    Mercury

v    Copper

v    Cadmium

·        Major sources of heavy metals

v    Both natural and human-derived

v    Industrial discharge

v    Runoff from rivers and urban areas

v    Air emissions from burning coal

3. Synthetic Organic Chemicals

·        Toxic effects

v    Very toxic in very small amounts

v    All are considered harmful to sealife

v    Concentration buildup upwards marine food chain

Ø     Called biological amplification

v    Thin shelled eggs in birds

v    Birth defects

v    Declining fertitilty

v    Depressed immune system

v    Negative behaviorial changes

·        Types of synthetic organic chemicals

v    Chlorinated hydrocarbons

Ø     Pesticides

ü     Example is ‘DDT’

Ø     Flame retardants

Ø     Industrial solvents

v    Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s)

Ø     Widely used to cool and insulate electrical devices

Ø     Also used to strengthen wood and concrete

Ø     Major problem in seals, sea lions, dolphins and whales

v    Dioxin

v    Luminescent compounds

·        Major sources

v    Pesticide residue runoff from farms and yards

v    Illegal industrial discharge

v    Accidental spills into surface and ground waters

4. Eutrophication-inducing compounds

·        Overabundance of organic nutrient compounds

v    Fertilizers and detergents

v    Nitrates and phosphates

·        Define ‘eutrophication’

·        Occurs mainly at the mouths of almost all the world’s rivers via runoff

·        Sources of compounds

v    Wastewater treatment plants

v    Farmland runoff

v    Factory effluent

v    Typically enter ocean via stream systems

·        Effects of eutrophication

v    Explosive growth of marine autotophs

v    Drastic reduction in free oxygen in water

v    High bacterial activity

v    Marine animal suffocation

v    Increased opacity of water column

v    Release of toxic substances released from algae

·        Occurance of harmful algal blooms or HAB’s


·        Apparent increase in number and intensity of HAB’s


5. Solid wastes

·        Trash including plastic is dumped at sea

·        Plastic is virtually nonbiodegradable

·        Close to 10% of human solid waste is plastic

6. Radioactive Wastes

·        Sources

v    Nuclear power plants

v    Nuclear weapons plants and storage installations

v    Industrial reactors

·        Negative effects

v    Radiation poisoning

v    Very long half-life of radionuclides

·        Fundamental problem is finding a safe very long-term waste storage solution

7. Sediment

8. Sewage

·        Sources that enter the ocean

v    Coastal outfall pipes and pumping station overflow

v    Storm channels during heavy rainstorms

v    Offshore sewage sludge dumping

v    Harbor vessels

·        Negative effects

v    High concentrations of bacteria and viruses in coastal waters

v    Promotion of eutrophication

v    Reduction of free oxygen in coastal waters

v    Burial and suffication of offshore sea bottoms by sewage sludge

9. Waste Heat

·        Sources of thermal effluent

v    Mainly generated by seaside power generation plants

v    Sewage outfalls

·        Negative effects

v    Shock to organisms

v    Organisms are sucked into intake pipes

10. Induced Exotic Species

·        Prime examples of very disruptive organisms

v    Chinese mitten crab

v    Mediterranean Caulerpa seaweed


                   E. The Costs of Marine Pollution

                             1. Costs in the United States in 1998 to control terrestrial, atmospheric and marine pollution

·        US governement and industry spent $220 billion

·        Each private US citizen spent an average of $800

2. USA lost 4% of its gross national product to environmental damages


          II. Habitat Destruction

A.   Estuaries and Bays

B.   Coral Reefs

C.   Establishment of Marine Sanctuaries


          III. Global Changes

A.   Ozone Layer Depletion

1. Nature of the ozone layer and its changes

2. Causes of depletion

3. Harmful effects of ozone layer reduction/loss

4. Ways to limit depletion/loss


B.   Global Warming

1. Nature of the global warming phenomena

·        Define ‘greenhouse effect’

2. Causes

·        Greenhouse gases buildup

·        Types of greenhouse gases

·        Sources of greenhouse gases

3. Harmful effects

·        Sea level rise

·        Climate changes

·        Ocean current changes

4. Ways to limit depletion

·        Reduce human-generated greenhouse emissions

·        Increase carbon sinks


          IV. What Can Be Done?

                   A. Think Globally – Act Locally Philosophy and Lifestyle

                             1. Stay educated on environment-sensitive topics and events

2. Intelligent personal lifestyle choices

                             3. Voting choices

                             4. Support pro-environmental causes