Significance of Marine Biology in the Modern Era
Approximately 70% of the protein humans consume comes from marine life.
Marine biology studies marine life based on scientific research and facts. It is a very vast field since a large number of living organisms on Earth live underwater. Marine biology is interlinked with other science fields like astronomy, biological oceanography, cellular biology, chemistry, ecology, geology, physical oceanography, and zoology. It helps to study the behaviors and interactions of these living entities. It is not limited to studying living organisms ranging from tiny insects to giant animals. Still, it also covers their habitats and the benefits they give to the environment and human beings.
Since lack of resources to fulfill the everyday needs of the masses is becoming a significant issue, especially in developing countries, the utilization of marine life and its rich habitat full of minerals and other valuable materials could prove to be a sigh of relief for the millions of people around the world. From providing food and medicines to enhancing nature’s beauty, marine life contributes in numerous ways to aid benefits to the environment. We will discuss some of the essential applications of marine biology in this article.
SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE
It is an excellent source of knowledge, as evident from many research fields related to marine biology. Biomedical researchers develop and test the efficacy of drugs, many of which are obtained from marine life. Environmental biology and toxicology are other essential research fields that directly impact our society as they check water quality and look for contamination in the marine environment.
Advancements in technology have helped marine biologists devise new instruments and formulate new techniques for collecting water samples and temperature information. Marine biologists have obtained information about aquatic organisms and their habitats with the help of underwater cameras, advanced diving equipment, television, and submarines. Jacques Rougerie, a French architect, has designed a $48 million underwater laboratory to help marine biologists observe and study organisms while living underwater.
SOURCE OF BASIC NEEDS OF SOCIETY
Although the population on Earth is increasing daily, the amount of resources available on Earth is insufficient to cater to their needs. That is where marine life has contributed so much to this ecosystem. Food, water, medicines, and shelter are some of the most essential and basic needs fulfilled by marine life.
Approximately 70% of the protein we consume comes from marine life. It is also the primary source of Omega-3 fatty acid, which is highly effective against various chronic diseases. Technological advancements and research related to marine biology have made it possible to utilize the marine environment to produce multiple compounds used in preservatives, pigments, stabilizers, food ingredients, and dietary supplements.
SOURCE OF TOURISM
According to United Nations World Tourism Organization, the number of international tourist trips worldwide reached 1.3 billion in 2017, and is predicted to reach 1.8 billion by 2030. The World Travel Tourism Council suggests that the marine tourism industry will create 400 million jobs and contribute 25% of worldwide job creation. Although it can bring economic prosperity to the lives of everyone involved, it can also harm the infrastructure. Therefore, proper planning is required to balance the positive and negative effects of tourism on the community.
The business sector may significantly promote ocean and sea protection through tourism, which may be one of the best strategies available. Hotels can support programs to inform visitors about marine life and species, including dolphins, whales, and coral reefs, and sponsor campaigns to increase awareness about maritime vulnerabilities.
REGULATION OF EARTH CLIMATE
Marine organisms significantly regulate the Earth’s climate by contributing to the oxygen cycle and absorbing carbon dioxide. According to marine biologists, about 50% – 70% of the total oxygen on Earth comes from the ocean, produced by plants, algae, and some bacteria. Prochlorococcus, the smallest and most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth, has up to 20% of the oxygen in our entire biosphere.
As the Earth warms, more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. The sea is the most significant atmospheric absorber of carbon dioxide. Its ability to absorb carbon dioxide exceeds that of all forests combined.
PROTECTION OF SHORELINE
Large underwater structures known as coral reefs are responsible for the protection of shorelines from storms and waves. According to reports, about three times as much waste is thrown into oceans as the weight of fishes caught, destroying coral reefs and ultimately killing many underwater organisms.
Coastal communities depend heavily on coral reefs for shoreline protection as climate change intensifies storm strength and increases the likelihood of floods. Coral reefs act as a natural flood barrier by limiting wave energy by 97% due to their rigid structures. Continuous research is being carried out by marine biologists to spread awareness and protect the shores from the hazardous effects of industrial and other environmental pollutants.
Coral reefs are very similar to human bone in their anatomical features; that is why they have been utilized in bone grafting, assuring neat and clean healing of bones. Echinoderms and other invertebrates are being used in research on regenerating multiple organs. Sponges and other organisms produce chemicals, which are used to manufacture several pharmaceutical products.
Seaweed is used to treat cough, asthma, goiter, stomach, and urinary diseases and reduce ulcers and headaches. Omega-3 fatty acid, found in abundant amounts in seawater, contributes to hormone regulation, blood clotting, genetic function, etc. Pseudopterosins, a compound obtained from Sea whip, are used as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent, reducing swelling and skin irritation.
Also, Read: The Pharmaceutical treasures of Marine ecosystem