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The Intertidal Zone
Transcript of The Intertidal Zone
What Is the Intertidal Zone?
Lichen live in the spray zone. They are two organisms living together: fungus and algae. The fungus provides protection from rough weather and gives the lichen a thick coating. The fungus can also store 35 times its own weight of water for later use. Also, the fungus is firmly attached to a surface which it lives on with the algea. The algal cells live within the fungus coating and photosynthetically provides food for both itself and the fungus. Lichen are the dominant species of the spray zone.
Whats in the Intertidal Zone?
There are four different parts of the intertidal zone. They are: The Spray Zone, the High Intertidal Zone, Mid Intertidal Zone, and the Low Intertidal Zone.
The Spray Zone
The spray zone is the uppermost area of the intertidal zone and contains the grow-on-land animals. It is only fully covered by water in a storm, so it's more land than water. It is usualy rocky. Very little vegitation grows here.
The High Tide Zone
The high tide zone is flooded during high tide only, and is an environment full of salt. The abundance of water is not high enough to sustain large amounts of vegetation, though some plants survive here. It is right under the spray zone.
The mid-tide zone is wet for equal periods of time per high tide cycle. The temperature is always fairly low, but not extremely low, due to lack of direct exposure to sunlight. Waves are more extreme in this zone than in the spray and high-tide zones. There are little rock pools providing homes to animals which you will learn about in the next few slides.
The intertidal zone, also known as the littoral zone, is the area of the foreshore and seabed that is exposed to the air at low tide, and drowned at high tide.
Low Tide Zone
The low tide zone is submerged underwater most of the time, exposed only at low tide. In this area, there is a lot of vegetation, mostly seaweed. There is much diversity in organisms. The low tide zone is made of sand, mud, moss and rock.
Spray Zone Animals
This is the dominant species of the high tide zone. The blue-green seaweed are closely related to bacteria, but obtain food through the process of photosynthesis. They reproduce rapidly and grow in colonies, so they are quite visible. They come in all different colors despite their name.
High-Tide Zone Animals
Barnacles are the most common organism in this zone. They are crustaceans that are very much like shrimp. They are attached to rocks and are stationary creatures. When there is no water to protect them, which happens a lot, they shelter inside their calcium shells. They are related to lobsters and crabs. They filter feed, which means that they feed on drifting food particles in the water.
Mid Tide Zone Animals
This species dominates the low tide zone. They attach themselves to a firm surface and are stationary. They do not have roots, so they obtain nutrients by absorbing it from the tides that bath them almost everyday. It also uses photosynthesis. The algae also shades, camouflages, moisturizes, and hides other species from predators. The seaweed is also flexible, which does not allow the tide to rip it off the surface it has stuck to.
The Black Oystercatcher
The Black Oystercatcher is one of the few Intertidal Zones birds that live in the spray zone. This bird does not eat oysters, but it's usual dinner is limpets and mussels, which it whacks off the rocks and pries the shell open with its beak. It lives mainly on the spray zone, since it favors rocky shorelines.
Striped Shore Crab
The Striped Shore Crab is a very small crab, measuring four centimeters long and four centimeters wide. It feeds mainly on green algea and dead marine animals. It lives in small rocks and cracks in the high tide zone, because if it lived in any lower zone, it would get washed away in the tide.
Ghost Shrimp live in crevices in the mid tide zone. They are very rare and barely seen, but when they are found, ghost shrimps can be very striking. They eat plankton and/or any kind of particle floating in the water (filterfeeding). The reason it is called a Ghost Shrimp is because its body is transparent and only a small, orange dot is visible in the center of it's tail. Its maximum length reaches four centimeters. These creatures need water to survive.
Low Tide Zone Animals
This snail species is very common in the low tide zone. They are herbivores and mainly feed on algae and seaweed like Cladophora and Enteromorpha. The species are freindly and sometimes form large clussters in one area. This makes that part of land have less algea and seaweed, slightly modifying the environment. The snail has a thick shell protecting it from injuries and rough weather. The snail can also survive for several hours without the tides as well.
No or less tides in all zones
The intertidal zone is a balanced out eco-system, but if we change one thing, like having less or even no tides, the balance will fall apart. Without the tides, animals will dry up, die of thirst, and lack of moisture like the Periwinkle. Also without the tide, animals like barnicles can't filterfeed. Without these animals, their predators will die and their pray will overpopulate, which unbalances the entire eco-system.
More tides in all zones
If there were too much tides, in the splash zone and the high-tide zone, it would leave the land-needing animals like the Black Oystercatcher without habitats. If that happened, the animal spieces would die. Also, animals that need the sun like seawed and algae will not get enough of it, if the water is blocking the suns rays. Animals like lichen and blue-green seaweed will not survive here any more. Also animals that need both land and water, like the Striped Shore Crab can not survive with only water. The death of these animals will disrupt the food chain, unbalancing the entire ecosystem.
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