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Marine Biology Terms


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A phycocolloid extracted from red algae that is widely used in food processing.
Viruses that infect bacteria.
The resistant stage of diatoms that restores the maximum size characteristic to the species.
boring sponges
Sponges that bore through calcareous skeletons and shells.
archaea (sing. archaeum)
Prokaryotic, unicellular microorganisms in the domain archaea.
abyssopelagic zone
The pelagic environment from a depth of 4,000 m to 6,000 m.
Non-target catch that is taken while fishing for other species.
(phylum Chordata) Animals that display a hollow dorsal nerve cord, gill slits, and a notochord. Includes the protochordates and the vertebrates.
The anterior portion of the body of many arthropods, which consists of the head fused with other body segments.
beard worms (pogonophorans)
Tube-dwelling annelids that lack a digestive system.
A green photosynthetic pigment.
biogenous sediment
Sediment that is made up of the skeletons and shells of marine organisms.
A complex carbohydrate that is the main component of fibers and other support structures in plants.
The leaf-like portion of the thallus of a seaweed.
bony fishes (Osteichthyes)
Fishes with a skeleton made mostly of bone; they also have opercula and fin rays.
The organelle where photosynthesis takes place.
Invertebrates that have jointed appendages and a chitinous, segmented exoskeleton.
A diploid generation found in the red algae. It produces non-motile carpospores.
A non-living (physical or chemical) component of the environment.
caudal fin
The posterior, or tail, fin of fishes.
aerobic respiration
The chemical process involved in the release of energy from organic matter. Organic matter (glucose) + oxygen (O2) --> carbon dioxide (CO2) + water (H20)
calcareous ooze
A type of biogenous sediment that is made of the calcium carbonate shells and skeletons of marine organisms.
The production of light by living organisms.
Marine fishes that migrate to fresh water to breed.
A member of the infauna that moves sediment while burrowing or feeding.
carbon (C)
An element that is an essential constituent of all organic compounds.
carrying capacity
The maximum population size that can be sustained by the available resources in a given environment.
back reef
The inner part of a barrier reef or an atoll.
apneustic breathing
Breathing pattern shown in many marine mammals that involves deep breaths followed by exhalation.
Pressure-loving. Applied to organisms or enzymes that grow or function best, or only, at high pressure.
(class Aves) Vertebrates that have feathers and lay eggs with calcified shells on land.
biological clock
A repeated rhythm that is synchronized with crime.
abyssal zone
The bottom from a depth of approximately 4,000 m to 6,000 m.
The layer of upper mantle that lies below the lithosphere.
bilateral symmetry
The arrangement of body parts in such a way that there are only two identical halves, with different anterior and posterior ends and dorsal and ventral surfaces.
central rift valley
A depression in the mid-ocean ridge.
calcareous green algae
Green algae that deposit calcium carbonate in their thallus.
central nervous system
The brain (or a similar aggregation of nerve cells)and one or more nerve cords.
anthropogenic impact
Disturbance to the natural environment caused by humans.
ampulla (pl. ampullae) of Lorenzini
One of several sensory structures in the head of sharks that detect weak electric fields.
black smoker
A chimney-like accumulation of mineral deposits that is found at hydrothermal vents.
A type of asexual reproduction by which a separate, new individual is produced from a small outgrowth, or bud.
A coral reef that develops as a ring around a central lagoon.
(class Bivalvia) Clams, mussels, and other molluscs that possess a two-valved shell, filtering gills, and a shovel-like foot.
bar-built estuary
An estuary that is formed when a barrier island or sand bar separates a section of the coast where fresh water enters.
anaerobic bacteria
Bacteria that do not need oxygen.
Aristotle's lantern
The set of jaws and associated muscles used by sea urchins to bite off food.
The filtering plates that hang from the upper jaws of baleen whales.
bacterium (sing. bacterium)
Prokaryotic, unicellular microorganisms in the domain Bacteria.
(class Polyplacophora) Molluscs that have a shell divided into eight overlapping plates.
(order Cetacea) Marine mammals with anterior flippers, no posterior limbs, and a dorsal fin: whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
adductor muscle
One of two muscles that close a bivalve's shells.
chloride cells
Cells in the gills of fishes that are involved in the excretion of excess salts.
cartilaginous fishes
(Chondrichthyes) Fishes with a skeleton made of cartilage: sharks, rays, skates, and ratfishes (or chimeras).
A sudden increase in the abundance of an alga or phytoplankton.
chemosynthetic (chemoautotrophic) prokaryotes
Autotrophic bacteria and archaea that use energy by releasing it from particular chemical compounds.
The dark-colored rock that forms the sea floor, or oceanic crust.
A sensory appendage on the head of arthropods.
A commercially important phycocolloid extracted from red algae.
big bang theory
The theory that a cosmic explosion produced clouds of dust and gas from which the earth and solar system originated.
baleen whales
The filter-feeding whales.
black corals
(order Antipatharia) Colonial anthozoans that secrete a black protein skeleton.
Undigested material that accumulates in the intestine of the sperm whale.
binomial nomenclature
A system of naming species using two names, the first of which refers to the genus.
An animal that eats other animals. A top carnivore is one that feeds at the top of the food chain.
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
Chemicals, used in sprays, air conditioners, and other products, that affect the ozone layer.
Cnidarians whose life cycle consists of a complex polyp and no medusa.
byssal threads
Strong fibers secreted by mussels for attachment.
brittle stars
(class Ophiuroidea) Echinoderms with five flexible arms that radiate from a conspicuous central disk and tube feet that are used in feeding.
carbon cycle
The cyclic conversion of carbon between carbon dioxide and various organic compounds.
anaerobic respiration
The breaking down of organic matter by organisms in the absence of oxygen.
The outer protein coat of viruses.
(class Cephalopoda) Octopuses, squids, and other molluscs that possess a foot modified into arms that surround the head.
Members of the kingdom Animalia, which consists of heterotrophic, eukaryotic, multicellular organisms.
algal ridge
A ridge of coralline algae that is found on the outer edge of some coral reefs.
biological magnification
The increased concentration of non-biodegradable chemicals in the higher levels of the food chain.
Lacking oxygen.
(phylum Ectoprocta or Bryozoa) Small, colonial, encrusting invertebrates with delicate, often lace-like skeletons.
arrow worms
Planktonic invertebrates characterized by a streamlined, transparent body.
The smallest unit into which an element can be divided and still retains its properties.
Made of calcium carbonate.
ambulacral groove
Each of the radiating channels of echinoderms through which tube feet protrude.
asexual (vegetative) reproduction
The type of reproduction that takes place without the formation of gametes.
Vertebrates that lay their eggs in fresh water: frogs, salamanders, and allies.
algal turf
A dense growth of often filamentous algae.
alternation of generations
A reproductive cycle in which a sexual stage alternates with an asexual one, as in the case of a gametophyte alternating with a sporophyte.
An organism that manufactures its own organic matter by using energy from the sun or other sources.
bathypelagic zone
The pelagic environment from a depth of 1,000 m to 4,000 m.
One of a group of yellow, orange, and red plant pigments.
alga (pl. algae)
Any of several groups of eukaryotic, autotrophic protists that lack the structural features (true leaves, roots, and stems) of plants.
carbon fixation
The conversion of inorganic carbon into energy-rich organic carbon, usually by photosynthesis.
anal fin
The last ventral fin of fishes.
A living component of the environment.
A phycocolloid extracted from brown algae that is widely used in food processing.
Organisms that live on the bottom.
barrier island
A long and narrow island that is built by waves along the coast.
The expulsion of zooxanthellae by reef corals in response to stress.
Freshwater fishes that migrate to sea to breed.
brown algae
(phylum Heterokontophyta, class Phaeophyta) Seaweeds with a predominance of yellow and brown pigments.
A complex derivative of carbohydrates that is the main component of the skeleton of many animals.
The total mass of living organisms.
A thick layer of fat under the skin of many marine mammals.
The shield-like structure that covers the anterior portion of some crustaceans; the shell of sea turtles.
A group of small, laterally compressed crustaceans that includes beach hoppers and others.
ATP (adenosine triphosphate)
A molecule that stores energy and releases it to power chemical reactions in organisms.
abyssal plain
The nearly flat region of the deep-sea floor.
active continental margin
A continental margin that is colliding with another plate and as a result is geologically active.
Able to be broken down by bacteria or other organisms.
Crustaceans that live attached to surfaces and are typically enclosed by heavy calcareous plates.
carbon dioxide (CO2)
A colorless gas that is required in the process of photosynthesis.
aboral surface
The surface opposite the mouth (or oral surface) in cnidarians, comb jellies, and echinoderms.
carbon dating
A procedure used to determine the age of recent fossils.
chlorinated hydrocarbons
A group of non-biodegradable, synthetic chemicals. Some are toxic and become pollutants.
An organic compound that consists of chains or rings of carbon with hydrogen and oxygen attached to them.
The slowing down of heart rate during diving in marine mammals.
barrier reef
A type of coral reef that develops at some distance from the coast.
The farming of marine and freshwater organisms.
amino acid
One of the 20 nitrogen-containing molecules that make up proteins.
active transport
The transfer of substances across membranes by a cell against a concentration gradient.
Leaping into the air by whales.
The nostrils, or nasal openings, of cetaceans.
bathyal zone
The bottom between the shelf break and a depth of approximately 4,000 m.
calcium carbonate (CaCO3)
A mineral that is the major component of the shell, skeleton, and other parts of many organisms.

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