The Arctic Sea: World’s Largest Breeding Ground
The Arctic Sea has long been known to be home to a vast array of marine life, but in recent years, researchers have just begun to uncover the extraordinary abundance of life that exists beneath its surface. From whales to nearly 700 unique species of fish, the Arctic Sea is one of Earth’s largest breeding grounds. Here are five fascinating facts about the wildlife in the Arctic sea.
- Unique Species of Fish
Believe it or not, there are nearly 700 known species of fish that have been documented in the waters of the Arctic Sea. From tiny crab larvae to schooling herring and iconic cod, these fish provide an essential connection between the higher species of arctic wildlife and the larger ocean web. Additionally, the deeper zones of the sea house a variety of species that have adapted to the harsh conditions such as deep-sea stingrays and dragonfish.
- Home to the Most Mammals
The Arctic Sea is home to the most mammal species in the entire world. While the list is ever-changing, here are a few of the key players:
• Beluga whales: These friendly denizens of the deep are unique to the Arctic and are heavily hunted by humans.
• Narwhals: Perhaps the most recognizable of the northern ocean creatures, the majestic narwhal tusks are sought after by whalers, who hunt them for their horns.
• Walruses: These burly residents, with their thick layers of blubber, are some of the largest animals that dwell in the Arctic waters.
• Northern seals: These slippery critters are both frustrating and entertaining for local fishers.
• Polar bears: Arguably the most spectacular creature to behold in the Arctic, the polar bear has been hunted for centuries by humans.
- Not Just Fish and Mammals
The Arctic Ocean is home to much more than fish and mammals; the silvery expanse of the sea also supports plenty of invertebrates. In fact, it’s believed that more than 44,000 species of invertebrates live in the waters of the Arctic Sea! From tiny amphipods, sharks, and giant six-foot clams, to plankton, eels, and other benthic animals that call the sea bed home, the Arctic Ocean is truly a teeming and diverse habitat.
- Food Web Connections
The Arctic Sea is a critical part of the greater ocean food web. Not only does it provide a breeding ground for many species of whales, seals, and other mammals, but it also serves as a vast expanses of forage for hundreds of types of fish to feed upon. Additionally, the Sea is home to vast quantities of plankton, which are the base of the food web. These tiny creatures, along with the smaller vertebrate and invertebrate species, form the foundation upon which larger marine life relies.
- Human Impacts
Unfortunately, human activities are having devastating impacts on the Arctic Sea. From ocean acidification and climate change to aggressive fishing practices, many of the species that call the Sea home are now endangered or on the brink of extinction. In addition to these direct pressures, there are also many indirect impacts to consider, such as the increasing levels of pollutants that are being released into the ocean, which are further destabilizing the food web.
The Arctic Sea is one of the most diverse and fascinating marine ecosystems in the world. While it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of marine life, it should also be noted that this marine habitat is in peril due to the increasing impacts of human activity. As climate change continues to reduce the availability of nutritious food sources and as direct exploitation for fishing and whaling continue, it’s becoming increasingly important to take steps to protect the Arctic Sea and its inhabitants. In the end, the only way to ensure this remarkable marine habitat remains intact is to safeguard it from the effects of human activities and to promote sustainable practices.