The Atlantic Ocean was created about 150 million years ago as a result of a continental rift. The southern Atlantic Ocean is home to diverse array of plants and animals that create an underwater ecosystem. Some of the world's more viable commercial fish are found in the Atlantic Ocean, such as flounder, perch and tuna. The underwater plants of the ocean provide cover and nourishment for marine life.
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Phytoplankton are essential, microscopic plants that serve as part of the base of the food chain within the ocean. Animals that feed on phytoplankton include jellyfish, shrimp, snails and whales. Living near the surface of the water, these plants use sunlight to sustain themselves, and can sometimes be seen in what is called a bloom, or a large growth. Sometimes these growths can negatively impact the well-being of the ocean system as well as create health concerns for humans.
The common name for algae is seaweed, and it can be found in the southern Atlantic Ocean as well as washed up on the shoreline. An essential part of marine life, algae provides food and shelter for innumerable species of fish and invertebrates. Algae, or seaweed, also maintains stability along the ocean floor.
Seagrass beds are a vitally important part of the ocean's ecosystem. The seagrasses provide habitat and shelter for smaller fish and act as feeding grounds for various birds. These flowering plants usually require a high level of light to flourish and are vital to the health of the surrounding marine life. Seagrasses maintain water clarity, stabilise the ocean floor at shallow depths, provide shelter for marine life and act as food for birds and fish.
A type of seagrass, turtle grass grows on the relatively calmer area of the ocean floor, away from the wave action. The roots can be up to 25cm deep, and they have flat, green leaves. The leaves are up to 30cm long with round tips. The plant produces large flowers that are green-white or pale pink in colour, and the seed pods from the flowers wash ashore. If the stems of this plant are cut it will lead to destruction of the bed. Herbivorous fish and green turtles feed on turtle grass.
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