Coast: The toughest place to live in the entire ocean: The seashore can be many places – rocky shore, sandy spit, pebble beach, salt marsh, mudflat, estuary, fjord or sea cliff – but they all have one thing in common: they are places of constantly changing extremes.
Coast: The toughest place to live in the entire ocean
Life here is pounded by waves, fried by the sun, frozen by snow and ice, and swamped by freshwater. There are rapid swings of temperature, salinity and light intensity, with the constant danger of overheating, drying out or being washed away… and all of this in a single day.
Then there are people. Evidence is mounting that the first humans followed the coast and fed on marine life as they colonised the world. Today, coastal waters, more than any other part of the ocean, play host to countless millions of us, along with our recreational fads, unpleasant effluents and insidious pollution.
All this is predicted to worsen as more energy enters the system, with a warming world and rising sea temperatures leading to a predicted increase in the number and intensity of powerful storms. This would destroy not only the coast’s natural habitats but also places of human habitation.
Yet marine life thrives here. It is the sea’s most productive zone, so the stakes are high and the rewards great, but they come at a price. Living organisms must have the ability to survive between two very different worlds.
This is where the land meets the sea, the toughest place to live in the entire ocean.