An aquatic ecosystem is where there is more saltwater than freshwater involved in the balance of the landscape. Other aquatic ecosystems are freshwater lakes, rivers and estuaries. The aquatic ecosystem includes all life forms and land forms that might occur in each location.
Aquatic ecosystem topography can include tidal zones, coral reefs, river mouths, estuaries and reefs where saltwater is predominant. The life forms that live in the aquatic ecosystem will be adapted to life in a salty environment.
Even tropical aquatic ecosystems will have similar conditions as underlying criteria for classification. The levels of saltwater will effect the life forms able to exist in the symbiotic relationships needed between aquatic ecosystem and sustainable life.
In studies of an aquatic ecosystem, the predatory nature of some forms of life will mark the food chain of the particular area. In the aquatic ecosystem the food chain begins with the largest predatory mammals and fish and will continue down through the strata of life forms to the smallest poly and coral life. Seals, whales and dolphins exist in an aquatic ecosystem. They make the top of the food chain with fish such as sharks and large predators like turtles and sting rays.
Further down the food chain in an aquatic ecosystem are the smaller fish and crustaceans. It is the way that these creatures exist among the plant life and coral formations that make up the unique relationships in the aquatic ecosystem. Without plant life or plankton the larger species could not exist. Without the tides, the currents and the sand bars or rock reefs the plants could not exist. Without the movement of schools of fish, jelly fish, rays, eels and turtles, the levels of life would not remain in balance.
The impact of human activity on an aquatic ecosystem may not at first be discernible, but study would give an idea of how man has changed the balance of life in any aquatic ecosystem. Not only through the act of fishing, does human activity impact on the aquatic ecosystem, but activities such as fertilization of crops can affect the delicate balance in the aquatic environment. Toxins washing into the tidal zones, plastics floating through an aquatic ecosystem, long lines, waste material and oil spills can all damage a fragile aquatic ecosystem.
Taking care of an aquatic ecosystem, whether it is in tropical waters or in the Arctic or Antarctic oceans will mean the survival of thousands of individual species. There is no aquatic ecosystem that exists without being impacted by what happens in other parts of the globe. The aquatic ecosystem is vital to the health and welfare of all life forms that pass through it.