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Marine Resources: Characteristics, Formation & Management

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  • 0:05 What Are Marine Resources?
  • 1:09 Formation of Marine Resources
  • 3:20 Management of Marine Resources
  • 4:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

What are marine resources? Learn about the characteristics, how they form, and some of the best ways we can manage them for future generations. Take a quiz to test your knowledge.

What Are Marine Resources?

Grilled salmon is really good for you. It has omega-3s, protein, iron and lots of other good stuff. When you're in a healthy mood, you might drive to the supermarket to buy some. Getting there means keeping gas in your car, and driving along roads containing sand and gravel. What do salmon, gas, and gravel all have in common? They're all marine resources.

Marine resources are materials and attributes found in the ocean that are considered to have value. That value can be intrinsic, or monetary. They include a huge number of things: biological diversity, fish and seafood supplies, oil and gas, minerals, sand and gravel, renewable energy resources, tourism potential, and unique ecosystems like coral reefs.

These resources can have great monetary value, and even when they don't, the uniqueness and opportunity for education and human enrichment cannot be quantified. The way we manage and use these resources is therefore of great importance.

Formation of Marine Resources

Explaining the formation of marine resources is a difficult task for a single lesson, because each resource formed in a different way. Fish and other marine life form through evolution over millions and billions of years. Oil and gas form when dead marine plants and animals are left on the ocean bed and become covered in sediments over many years. When they get buried deeply enough, heat and pressure becomes so great that they are compressed and form oil. With higher heat and compression they can go a stage further and form natural gas.

Sand and gravel are simply sediment that gets broken down by fast-moving rivers and then swept into the sea. Minerals form differently depending on the mineral, but generally form when lava from volcanoes solidifies. Water itself contains minerals, and when volcanoes erupt the lava solidifies to form rock that contains minerals. How fast the lava cools determines whether minerals form. It has to be slow enough that crystals form, since minerals are crystalline. The slower the lava cools, the larger the crystals.

Coral reefs form when coral larvae attach to underwater rocks. These larvae grow to form the reef. Reefs usually form into one of three main structures: barrier reefs, atoll reefs, or fringing reefs. Fringing reefs are most often found around coastlines and go from the shore straight out to sea. Barrier reefs are also along the shore but at more of a distance, with deep water in between. Atoll reefs begin as a fringing reef that surrounds an underwater volcano. When the volcano recedes a barrier reef is formed. Once the reef reaches the surface, it becomes a circular atoll reef.

Coral reefs are a precious marine resource, not only for the unique biological diversity present, but also because of how long they take to form. A coral reef takes at least 10,000 years to form, and barrier and atoll reefs only become fully formed after much longer, in some cases as much as 30 million years. They are hotspots for marine life: algae, fish, you name it.

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