Hello Ocean Lovers! Here at Marine Conservation Costa Rica, ocean cleanups are a common part of our monthly activities. Diving for Debris has been a well known and largely participated event. It has left divers feeling both accomplished and hopeful for a healthier underwater ecosystem.
We need the natural cleaners of the reef
But are we the only ones working to keep our ocean clean? If that were true, our reefs and the health of the sea would have been inevitably doomed long ago. No matter how much effort we as concerned humans have put in to “undoing” what the human race has already carelessly destroyed. Fortunately, there are other marine species who work full time jobs to filter and clean the ocean long before we were ever brought to the attention to do so.
Invertebrate filter feeders
Sponges are aquatic invertebrates that many divers take a moment to stop and admire. What you may not know is that they are not just interesting to look at. They also play an important role in the health of its surrounded area. Sponges filter large amounts of water and can produce up to three times the amount of oxygen they consume.
Parrotfish, otherwise known as a “keystone species”, spend the majority of their time feeding. They do this by using their beak-like mouths to scrape off algae and dead coral. If you listen closely, you can hear them doing so underwater. In addition, they excrete what they have consumed in which we call sand. Parrotfish can produce up to 320 kilograms of sand per year!
The Marine dentist
Cleaner shrimp are not just little crustaceans that are fun to hunt in tiny crevices. They are sometimes referred to as, and what I like to call them, “Marine Dentists”. These shrimp do a great service of performing rock dances and cleaning their predators teeth. Pretty brave souls if you ask me!
It is our responsibility to co-exist on this planet and take care of what nature has given us. We are all included in a chain and each species plays a vital role. These are only a select few marine species that consistently work hard to keep our oceans and our home both healthy and happy! We must continue to help our ocean friends by doing our part as well.