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Sea Life

The Mediterranean sea

is an Inland sea separating Europe from north Africa, Asia is to the east. It is linked to the Atlantic Ocean at the Strait of Gibraltar, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean by the Suez Canal, and the Black Sea at the Dardanelles and Sea of Marmara.

The Mediterranean coastline runs through 22 countries.

Looking out to sea from Governors beach

The Mediterranean Sea known as the 'cradle of Civilization' was opened as a highway for commerce by merchants trading from Phoenicia and later used by many others including the Byzantine and Arab empires to name but a few.

It. both links and divides the three continents of Europe, Asia and Africa. It is almost completely land locked and stretches from the Straits of Gibraltar in the west to the coast of Turkey, Syria and Israel to the East. In fact the Mediterranean is not one sea but several joined together, divided by a mid ocean ridge running from Italy to the African coast and forming two principle areas of the Eastern and Western Mediterranean.

The fact that water temperatures never drop below 10°C in the Mediterranean Sea, has meant that the area has remained fairly isolated over the years and has evolved a distinct ecosystem. This has played a major role in aiding the classification of the world's marine animals.

The impact of pollution on the local sea environment is very small considering the size of it. Some areas are under increased threat due to tourism but this is usually temporary as the marine life tends to regenerate with the seasonal changes. The Mediterranean surrounding countries do a lot to counter the effects of pollution on the sea.   

One real threat to marine life in the Mediterranean is a killer Algae called Caulerpa taxifolia.  A native of Australia this was first discovered in Europe in 1969 in Stuttgart Aquarium, by some accident this got released into the sea and started to grow.  Since it can be carried easily, survive in cold climates, spread through fragmentation, and there are no predators of this alga, it is getting to become a problem.

The algae is not only overtaking all local marine life; as a by-product of its growth it creates a mud residue, further smothering the ecosystem. A few small nudibranchs have been discovered that feed on this alga but not enough to halt the spread.  A few small bream are starting to eat the alga, however this plant is so toxic that it will take several generations of fish before any are immune to it.  There is the problem of human health, if these toxic fish are eaten.

One way of killing the plant is by spreading a large black plastic sheet over the affected area and then treating the algae with chlorine. This also kills off other types of life but they can usually be regenerated over time.  There are other methods that are now being used successfully. The sea slug Elysia is known to eat the alga exclusively and several types of copepods also thrive on it.  It is hoped that with continued monitoring and response by the authorities that another ecological disaster may be averted.

More will be added to this page later and if anyone has any comments or information to add please contact me and I will be happy to include it.

 


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