If you aren’t interested in ocean plants, now might be a time to learn some quick health and environmental facts about them! It turns out that ocean plants are incredibly beneficial to us as humans, but also to Earth as a whole!
Not too sure much about marine ecosystems and ocean plants? Keep reading to find out.
Importance of Ocean Plants
Ocean plants, also called marine/aquatic plants, play many crucial roles in the marine ecosystem and overall help keep our planet healthy and happy! Their importance is both environmental, ecological, and beneficial to our own health.
Ocean plants help produce oxygen. Plants like marine algae and phytoplankton help with a significant portion of the earth’s oxygen production through photosynthesis. This means that they are also essential for the survival of marine life as they help regulate oxygen in the ocean.
They also are important for carbon sequestration (CO2). This means they absorb CO2 and convert it into organic matter. The carbon is then transported to the ocean floor when the plants die, which contributes to the long-term storage of carbon and helps mitigate the effects of climate change.
We could go on and on about the environmental benefits of ocean plants and we will later! For now, just looking at these two aspects of ocean plants highlights how important they are to the planet! Let’s now look at how they could potentially benefit our health.
Health Benefits of Ocean Plants
Seaweed is a diverse group of aquatic plants that can be found in many forms. Seaweed is a great source of food for both humans (ever seen a seaweed snack at the market?) and marine animals! Seaweed is rich in nutrients like iodine, iron, vitamin K, and antioxidants. It helps play a key role in the ocean’s ecosystem through absorbing excess carbon and nitrogen. It also helps to reduce ocean acidification and eutrophication. Bioactive compounds have also been found in seaweed (fucoidian and phycocyanin) that can have anti-inflammatory properties.*
We use seaweed in our 5-minute Asian-Inspired Rainbow Salad!
Kelp, which is a brown seaweed, is another beneficial ocean plant that is both potentially nutritious and important for the ocean’s ecosystem. Kelp forests are home to marine life and help provide habitats for marine life + other organisms. They can help protect from erosion and storm surges, and help regulate the ocean’s climate through carbon dioxide absorption. Kelp is nutritious since it has rich amounts of iodine, potassium, and iron, and is a potentially good source in dietary fiber.
You might eat kelp through seaweed salads, smoothies, miso soup, or through kelp noodles.
Phytoplankton is a diverse group of small, single-celled plants that will float near the surface of the ocean. They are an important piece of the ocean ecosystem since they are responsible for producing around half of the oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere. They also act as an important part of the ocean food web! We as humans do not eat them, but many of the marine animals do like small fish, krill, and whales.
- Sea moss
Sea moss is another aquatic plant that is both rich in nutrients but also important to its ecosystem. We have written about it on our website under Irish Sea Moss 101 and we went over the skin benefits of sea moss! Sea moss is high in essential minerals such as iodine, potassium, iron, and is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and Vitamin K. It is also rich in antioxidants! Sea moss is a great food source for both humans and marine animals.
We use sea moss in our Vegan Version of the Hailey Bieber Strawberry Skin Glaze Smoothie.
We touched on two really important environmental benefits of aquatic plants that are vital to our ecosystem. There are a few others that are also important to our ecosystem that should be noted!
- Habitat and Biodiversity
Ocean Plants help provide habitat and food sources for many marine species. Seagrass beds, kelp forests, and coral reefs are vital to the ecosystems and their marine life. These habitats help foster protection, potential breeding grounds, and feeding areas for diverse marine species.
- Shoreline Protection
Coastal plants help to stabilize shore grounds through help reduce erosion that can be caused by waves, currents, and rising water levels. The roots of the plants anchor sediment which can help prevent the loss of valuable coastal land, and also protect communities from storms.
- Nutrient Cycling
Aquatic plants help with nutrient cycling in marine ecosystems. They help to absorb nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus from the water. This helps regulate nutrient levels and prevents excessive nutrient runoff.
- Climate Regulation
Aquatic plants can influence climate patterns with their role in regulating ocean temperature and currents. Kelp and other larger marine plants can help to “dampen” the impact of waves or currents which helps to lower the effects of storms or ocean turbulence.
Aquatic plants are incredibly important environmentally to the marine environment, but also to our ecosystem as a whole on earth. They have a vital effect on the global environment as they contribute to oxygen production, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, and shoreline protection. Making sure our marine plants are healthy, helps ensure that so much else is healthy in the world.
Did you like this health-benefits blog? You’ll love some of our other plant-powered focus blog posts.