This month we're looking at pelagic waters, which is similar to our open waters post, but the pelagic zone refers to the surface waters of the open sea!
The epipelagic (also known as photic) zone encompasses the first 200m under the ocean's surface, and is home to a huge number of microfauna and flora, including algae, phytoplankton and zooplankton. These microorganisms thrive here because rays of sunlight penetrate the water and allow for photosynthesis. Algae that live in the epipelagic zone are the
keystone food source for most of the ocean's food webs and produce at least 50% of the oxygen in the atmosphere (both through photosynthesis). Many pelagic fish migrate from deeper waters to the epipelagic zone to feed on these tiny creatures and plants under the protective cover of night. Despite the epipelagic zone being one of the smallest habitats of the ocean, it is home to the largest number of marine species overall. Pelagic waters are under enormous threat from industrial fishing, with trawl nets and troll lines depleting global fish stocks at an unsustainable rate and killing megafauna such as dolphins, rays and shark as bycatch.
The UK government recently voted against measures to improve our fishing regulations, and with Brexit leaving the UK exempt from EU fishing regulations, there is concern over the future of the UK's fishing industry, especially here in Scotland. Get involved by educating yourself about how to eat sustainably caught fish, or reduce your seafood intake, or contact your local MP or sign petitions.
Check out the link below for more info on sustainable fishing in the UK: