Open Ocean Information:


The open ocean, compared to all ecosystems, occupies the largest area of the earth. It traditionally begins beyond the continental shelf and may get deeper than 6 miles. The upper 600 feet (200 meters) is regarded as the photic zone because light penetrates there and supports the growth of algae, the base of a food chain. Below 600' (200 meters) is the benthic zone, where light never shines (aphotic). The benthos is largely a detrital zone, with decomposition of dead animals and plants that fall from above. There are deep sea rift communities here that are not detrital, with the base of their food chain being bacteria that derive energy from sulfur from volcanic vents. The surface temperatures of the ocean vary with the latitude of the ocean area. The ocean depths are very cold with temperatures rarely above 50°F. Nutrient availability in the open ocean is very low and life is scarce, except near the continental shelves, where plankton can be plentiful. The major producers are algae (phytoplankton) and the major animals are sharks (passing through), jellyfish, large sea turtles, and large fish such as tuna. Mammals such as large whales can also be found here, feeding on the plankton.



A ctenophore Leucothea pulchra larva in the open ocean.

By Ed Bierman from Redwood City, USA (P7010163) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


A sea turtle, a common traveler in the open ocean.

By Delam2 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


The Portugeuse Man-o-War, a venomous creature of the open ocean.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


A Great White shark, traveler of the open ocean zone.

By Sharkdiver.com (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


The open ocean.

By Tiago Fioreze (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Ocean Distribution:

By Serg!o, Public Domain