Week 4: Living Oceans > Topic 4f - Biodiversity - Marine conservation

A diverse range of important ecosystems can be monitored using satellite imagery. Whilst imagery may not be able to identify individual animals from space, it can tell us something about large communities of organisms that live in the ocean.

Methods have been developed to characterise phytoplankton by their size, or function (how they contribute to certain ocean biogeochemical processes for example). These methods are based on the way different traits or species interact with light, which makes up the ocean colour signal.

Other approaches have been developed to map species that form important habitats such as coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves. These habitats provide many important functions for both us and the ocean.

Coral reefs are important biodiversity hotspots, and their calcium carbonate structures are an important store of carbon.

Seagrasses provide another environment in which many species live and breed, and also contribute to photosynthesis. Mangroves exist at the interface between land and sea. They are often nurseries for fish, and provide direct services for coastal communities, acting as barriers to large waves.

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Multi-annual mean occurence of bluefin tuna feeding habitat (%): 2003-2009

The image shows conditions for Bluefin tuna feeding, ranging from unfavourable (blue) to favourable (red) in the Mediterranean
Sea as predicted by an ocean ecosystem and fish population model for the week centred on 16 October 2002. The model uses
satellite data as well as data from an operational ocean model. The zoom shows the Gulf of Lyon, where schools of juvenile
Bluefin tuna (circles) were identified from aerial surveys in the same week. Historical data and simulations are used to validate
the modelling approach. It is expected that such products could be used in the future for monitoring of stocks and fisheries

A Leatherback Turtle leaving the beach of Awala-Yalimapo, French Guiana. One of the last major nesting areas for this species.