Neritic Zone: Definition, Organisms & Climate

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Advances in Limnology and Oceanography

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 What Is the Neritic Zone?
  • 0:55 Climate of the Neritic Zone
  • 1:38 Sea Life in the Neritic Zone
  • 3:15 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed Audio mode

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

The neritic zone is the top-most layer of the ocean that surrounds the world's coasts. In this lesson, we'll discuss the characteristics of this zone, what lives there, and what its climate is like.

What Is the Neritic Zone?

Have you ever seen images or a video of scuba divers or snorkelers exploring colorful, clear waters filled with fish and other sea life? Maybe you've even been one of those adventurers yourself. Well, even if you haven't, you're in luck, because today we'll be exploring the beautiful top layer of the ocean that is the neritic zone. The name might not sound glamorous, but the neritic zone is home to much of the sea life we picture when we think of the ocean. The neritic zone is also referred to as the coastal waters because it's the shallow waters close to the coast.

The neritic zone extends from the surface of the water to about 200 feet below, where the sea floor, or continental shelf, sits. As the sea floor extends away from the shore, eventually the continental shelf drops off, creating much deeper waters and leading to the open ocean. The neritic zone only occurs before the continental shelf drops off.

Climate of the Neritic Zone

Since the water is so shallow, the neritic zone receives ample sunlight. The water temperatures tend to be relatively stable as well, but the temperature is different depending on what area of the world the zone is in. For example, the neritic zone of the Arctic Ocean is much colder than the neritic zone found in tropical areas, such as off the coast of much of western Africa.

The salinity, or amount of salt, in this part of the ocean is also stable, which helps to support the diverse life found there. The pressure is similar to that of the surface, so that isn't a concern for life in the neritic zone, either. Other, deeper parts of the ocean have extreme pressures due to the water above that prevents a lot of life from flourishing.

Sea Life in the Neritic Zone

Since there's a lot of sunlight in the neritic zone, green plants grow there, providing a high oxygen content to support the brilliant sea life we often see in its shallow waters. The neritic zone is the most productive area of the ocean and is home to thousands of fish species. The more tropical areas contain especially high numbers of fish species, as well as thick coral reefs teeming with biodiversity.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account