Glossary of Terms

Aquaculture: the farming of marine and freshwater plants and animals for human consumption.

Bioaccumulation: the concentration of long-lived compounds in the flesh and organs of organisms that ingest prey that have ingested those compounds themselves.

Coral Atoll: a circular reef formed when the volcanic peak around which reefs grow as fringing reefs submerges, leaving only the surrounding reefs and interior lagoon.

Dead zones: marine areas having hypoxia – lacking oxygen – virtually devoid of life (as, for example, the dead zone currently the size of New Jersey located in the northern Gulf of Mexico).

Dispersal: the movement of eggs, larvae, or young from one area to another, usually facilitated by currents.

Ecologically sustainable limits: amount of use (extraction) of a resource beyond which the resource cannot replenish itself.

Ecosystem services: processes by which the environment produces resources such as clean water, habitat for fish, and pollination of agricultural and native plants.

Estuary: areas where the freshwater of rivers meets the saltwater of the oceans.

Eutrophication: a condition caused by the inflow of too many, and often unnatural, nutrients into coastal ecosystems, usually characterized by algal blooms.

Fecund: an adjective relating to the number of eggs/young produced by an organism; a species is said to be highly fecund when the number of offspring produced is great.

Frontal systems: areas where major currents converge.

Hypersalinity: the state of estuaries when freshwater (riverine) water is reduced and the water turns from brackish to extremely salty.

Larval retention:the action by which currents act to keep young, often free-floating organisms within an area, giving them a chance to grow to the next stage in development.

Mangroves: trees that are specially adapted to living in seawater, either continually or during high tides.

Marine nursery area: an area in which the density of sub-adult organisms is greater than in other habitats, and in which the habitat confers advantages that result in greater survival of such organisms into the next larger size class.

Mariculture: the cultivation of sea animals and plants in their usual habitats, generally for commercial purposes.

Nutrient loading: the delivery of nutrients, subsequently used as food, to an area – either by run-off, river flow, atmospheric deposition, or currents.

Pelagic: water columnareas of the ocean, usually thought of as offshore of coastal areas, and organisms residing in these areas.

Reef flat: the shallow areas of a coral reef system located shoreward of the reef crest, where wave energy is dissipated.

Sea mount: a submerged mountain or volcano.

Seagrass: flowering plants that colonize soft-bottom areas of the oceans from the tropics to the temperate zones.

Seiche: flow of water onto land and then back to sea caused by wind or waves.

Sedimentation: pollution caused by the introduction of dirt or sediments into the water.

Stock: a genetically distinct population of organisms or a discreet population of fish or invertebrates targeted by a single fishery.

Turbidity: a measure of the clarity of the water – high turbidity meaning low clarity or light penetration.

Warm core rings: eddies that detach from major currents, forming a ring of self-contained water that travels, moving organisms along with it.