Ocean Plants Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Heather Pier

Heather has taught high school and college science courses, and has a master's degree in geography-climatology.

When we study the oceans, we almost always talk about the animals that live there. In this lesson, you will learn about the plants that live among all those ocean animals.

What is a Plant?

You are not a plant. But have you ever stopped to think about what makes a plant a plant before?

A plant is a type of living thing that can make its own food. Trees, flowers, and grass can all make their own food. Humans can't make their own food; we have to eat food that comes from the store or that we hunt for or grow ourselves.

Plants make their own food using the sun's energy. This happens through a special process called photosynthesis During photosynthesis, special chemicals in a plant's cells absorb the light energy from the sun and use it to make food inside the cell.

Ocean plants like these algae use photosynthesis to make their food, just like land plants do.

The photosynthesis process also requires some chemicals from the outside. The plants must take in carbon dioxide to help with the photosynthesis process.

After they have used the carbon dioxide and sunlight to make food, they give off oxygen to the environment around them. We use this oxygen to help us breathe. In fact, if there were no plants, there would be no oxygen, and we wouldn't be able to breathe at all!

How Can a Plant Live in the Ocean?

Plants in the oceans use sunlight like land plants do, but they don't always need as much of it as a land plant would. They also still use carbon dioxide and give off oxygen like land plants do. They just get the carbon dioxide from the water around them instead of the air around them.

All plants need water to survive, but what is it like for a plant to live in the water?

Everybody knows that plants need water to live. That's why you have to water your plants, because if you didn't they would eventually die. But did you know that plants prefer freshwater?

Most plants that live on land really don't like saltwater. They can tolerate it for a little while, but it will eventually kill them. This is why so many plants die when saltwater washes onto land during hurricanes.

But the plants that live in the ocean not only can tolerate saltwater, they thrive in it. Not every type of plant can do that. You couldn't just take a cactus from the desert and plant it in the ocean. It will die. Only very special plants can live in the salty water of the ocean.

Examples of Ocean Plants

Just like there are many different types of plants on land, there are also many different types of plants that can live in the ocean. There are over one million (1,000,000) different kinds of plants found in the ocean. The plants below are the most common examples of ocean plants.

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