Life Near the Surface

The pelagic environment is the water column itself, away from the bottom or the shore. Pelagic organisms live suspended in their liquid medium. With few oddity, the pelagic lacks the solid physical structure provided either by the bottom and other geological attribute or by large organisms like corals and kelps. There is no place for attachment, no bottom for burrowing, nothing to hide behind.

Like nearly all ecosystems, the pelagic realm is fuelled by solar energy captured in photosynthesis. Epipelagic ecosystems differ from many shallow-water ones in that nearly all the primary production takes place within the epipelagic system itself. Coastal ecosystems often receive large amounts of food from elsewhere. The intertidal zone, for example, gets plankton and drifting seaweeds from offshore, and rivers carry organic material into estuaries.