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Ocean Resources, Types, Examples, Characteristics & Formation

Ocean Resources

Marine Resources are the resources which we derive from the oceans. The ocean is the most prominent feature on the planet. oceans cover 70.8 per cent of the earth’s surface. The ocean is linked to the beginning and development of life on Earth. On this planet, the oceans have a vast history. The Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Arctic Ocean are the four major oceans that make up the Earth’s surface. The Pacific Ocean is the world’s deepest ocean and the earth’s largest geographic feature. It was named in the year 1520 by Ferdinand Magellan.

One of the most valuable natural resources on the planet is the ocean. Ocean Resources or Marine Resources support billions of people worldwide by providing jobs, goods, and services. They are extremely valuable economically. Their resources include food, fuel, energy, medicines, minerals, and building materials. Oceans are drilled for crude oil and mined for minerals (salt, sand, gravel, and some manganese, copper, nickel, iron, and cobalt can be found in the deep sea).

The oceans are vital in absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and supplying oxygen. They also largely influence the Earth’s climate.

Ocean Resources Types

The seas and oceans are equipped with a diverse range of biotic and abiotic resources from two primary sources. Firstly, the rivers carry a variety of materials into the sea as they flow through the lithosphere’s land areas. These materials contain various mineral elements, plants, and animals. Second, plants in shallow waters generate some resources. Resources come in two varieties:

  • Biotic Resources
  • Abiotic Resources.

Read More: Natural Resources

Oceanic Biotic Resources

Biotic refers to living things. Phytoplanktons, zooplankton, fish, crustaceans, molluscs, corals, reptiles, and mammals are among the sea’s biotic resources.

Planktons in Ocean

Plankton is a varied group of organisms that live in water (or air). They are unable to swim against the stream (or wind). Plankters are the individual creatures that makeup plankton. Plankton is commonly associated with water, but airborne forms, known as aeroplankton, spend part of their lives drifting through the air. Many small and large aquatic species, such as bivalves, fish, and whales, rely on them for nutrition in the water. Bacteria, archaea, algae, and protozoa are drifting or floating animals that make up marine plankton. They live in the saltwater of seas and the brackish waters of estuaries.

Algae in Ocean

Algae are a class of primarily aquatic, photosynthetic, and nucleus-bearing organisms. However, they lack roots, stems, leaves, and specialized multicellular reproductive structures found in plants.

Algae found in the ocean is used in multiple ways. Brown algae produce algin. Algin is used in the paint industry as a stabilizer, to strengthen ceramics, and to thicken jams. Agar and carrageenan are both found in red algae. In research, agar is an important medium for bacterial cultivation.

Desserts and pharmaceutical items include it as well. Carrageenan is used as an ice cream stabilizer and an emulsifier in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.  Sea lettuce is used as a flavouring in soups and salads. Kelp can be grown to produce methane gas and converted into energy.

Read More: Forest Resources

Zooplankton in Ocean

Zooplankton is minute aquatic microorganisms in the water column. Zooplankton can be divided into two categories based on their food consumption. Primary consumers eat free-floating algae. At the same time, secondary consumers eat other zooplankton. Primary and secondary consumers together make up the zooplankton community. Zooplanktons include crustaceans, rotifers, insect larvae, and aquatic mites.

The aquatic food web is extremely dependent on the zooplankton ecosystem. These organisms function as a link in the food chain. They transmit energy from planktonic algae (primary producers) to larger invertebrate predators and fish that eat them. Changes in aquatic habitats have a significant impact on zooplankton. Changes in species composition, abundance, and body size distribution can be used to detect the effects of environmental disturbances.

Nekton Community in Ocean

The active swimming aquatic organisms in the water body are called nekton. The most important of them is the fish. Demersal fish are found on or near the bottom of the ocean. Reef fish, on the other hand, is connected with coral reefs. Fish that live in the pelagic zone of lakes or oceans are neither close to the bottom nor are they close to the coast. The marine pelagic environment, which covers 1,370 million cubic kilometres (330 million cubic miles) and is home to 11% of all known fish species, is the largest aquatic habitat.

Benthos Community in Ocean

The benthic zone is a community of creatures that dwell on, in, or near the bottom of the ocean.

Types of Benthos

Epifauna: Epifauna resides on the surface of the ocean’s bottom. They cling to hard surfaces such as pebbles, shells, and pilings. Epifauna includes Oysters, sponges, sea squirts, sea stars, barnacles, etc. An epifaunal benthic community is an example of an epifaunal benthic population.

Infauna: Infauna digs into the sediments at the bottom of the ocean. Worms, clams, and other infauna develop their communities. Many diverse species can be found in a healthy infaunal community.

Importance of Benthos

Benthos connects primary producers, such as phytoplankton, to higher levels in the food chain. Clams and oysters are filter feeders that eat plankton and organic particles. Larger, economically important species such as blue crabs, striped bass, spot, croaker, and white perch eat many benthic animals, particularly clams and worms. Furthermore, bacteria, decomposers, and detritus feeders living at the ocean’s bottom decompose waste products, dead plants, and animals.

Read More: Types of Resources

Fishing Ocean Resources

It refers to catching aquatic animals other than fish, such as molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms (such as starfish and sea urchins). Fishing is done in different water bodies. Fishing is divided into categories based on its location.

Comparison of Inland and Marine Fishing

Inland Fishing Marine Fishing
Inland fishing is practised in fresh waters such as canals, ponds, reservoirs, and rivers. Fishing in seawater or saltwater is referred to as marine fishing.
Large numbers of fish are raised for human consumption in tanks or ponds. A large number of fish are caught in marine fisheries using synthetic fibre nets, mechanized fishing, etc.
These fish are caught as part of commercial freshwater fishing operations. These fish have the potential to be exported to international markets.
Inland fisheries include Rohus, Grass Craos, Callas, Mrigals, etc. Catfish, molluscs, mackerel, sardines, tunas, crustaceans, and other marine species are examples of marine fisheries.

Fishing Grounds in Temperate Ocean Regions

The following are the reasons for the development of fishing grounds in temperate regions:

Plankton Availability

Plankton is a tiny unicellular marine organism. There are two kinds of these: phytoplankton and zooplankton. Zooplankton eats phytoplankton, which marine fish then eat. As a result, the availability of plankton is a critical factor in the development of a fishing region.

Nature of Continental Shelves

The continental shelf’s vast, open extension is ideal for fish concentration. Pelagic fish always prefer shallow water. The coral reef and other banks are excellent locations for fish breeding. It is estimated that coral reef ecosystems protect smaller fish species from the aggression of larger fish species. Banks or submerged land surfaces, such as Grand Bank, Georges Bank, and Doggers Bank, provide excellent breeding grounds.

Rate of Carbon Fixation

Experts believe that the rate of carbon fixation is essential in attracting the fish community. According to marine biologists, each cubic meter of water should not have more than 0.3 g calorie carbon fixation rate per day. The carbon fixation rate in most temperate upwelling systems, such as the Benguela and Canari systems, is optimal.

Indented or Broken Coastline

It provides natural shelter for fish. Fishers can catch them easily at this location. Port construction is simpler. Storms do not threaten fishing vessels.  For example, The Fjord coast of Norway and Sweden has excellent fishing harbours.

Fish Variety and Improved Quality

Many temperate fish are edible. Unlike in tropical seas, where many fish species are toxic.

Temperate Climate

Fish is a perishable commodity. It will be sold as soon as possible after the catch. A temperate, cool climate helps preserve naturally for much longer periods. Aside from the preservation factor, fishing in warm areas is extremely difficult. The per capita fish catch in temperate regions is far greater than in tropical areas.


The fishing industry is unsuitable for gritty, inaccessible terrain. Plain coastal areas are ideal for fishing.

Presence of Forest

Forests play an essential role in the overall development of the fishing industry. They provide wood for the construction of boats and ferries. The forest regulates the temperature of the sea. Cooler seawater temperatures near the forest area increase the fish to catch. The fish community benefits from forest-weathered material as well.

Reasons for Backwardness in Commercial Fishing in Tropical Regions

Various factors are responsible for the underdevelopment of the fishing industry in the tropical region.

Plankton Deficiency

Tropical oceans are hotter for obvious reasons. This hot water is not suitable for the growth of plankton. Planktons cannot survive in hot water and have a very low survival rate in tropical seas. The abundance of plankton primarily determines the concentration of fish.

High Temperature

The tropical region’s year-round extreme heat poses a significant challenge to fishing activities. Heat makes it difficult for fishers to preserve the fish.

Species Diversity

Tropical seas are home to a diverse range of fish species. Many of these species are not edible and, in some cases, toxic. As a result, a significant portion of the fish catch is generally discarded. As a result, the cost of fish production rises significantly.

Absence of a Shallow Continental Shelf

Shallow continental shelves or banks are natural breeding grounds for fish. Fishes are abundantly collected from these banks. However, tropical seas are extremely deep and devoid of banks.

Indented Coastline

A broken or indented coastline is suitable for the construction of fishing harbours. This facility is not available on tropical coasts.

Transportation Halt

The rapid trans-shipment of perishable fish is a critical factor in the growth of the fishing industry. Transportation in tropical areas has been underdeveloped. This is because of the underdeveloped economy and the inaccessible nature of the terrain.

Unsanitary Situation

Epidemics have infested tropical areas massively. Fishermen must be able to withstand a wide range of tropical diseases.

Underdeveloped Economy

The fishing industry lacks the necessary technology and modern equipment due to low investment capacity and the industry’s unorganized nature.


Fishermen have remained impoverished over the years. This leads to a vicious circle. People have a very little surplus as a result of their low income. So they are unable to invest more money in fishing. Thus,  low investment leads to low output and minimal surplus.

Major Fishing Grounds of the World

Major Fishing Grounds of the world are given below:

North-East Pacific Region

It extends from the Aleutians to the Philippines in the south. This region also includes the eastern coastal waters of Russia and areas of China, South Korea, Japan and the Philippines. China, Japan, and South Korea contribute 13, 8, and 3 per cent of the world’s catch.

North-East Atlantic Region

It extends along European coasts from Portugal to Iceland. The major fishing countries are Norway, Great Britain, and Denmark. The North Sea is also a prominent fishing area.

North-West Atlantic Region

It extends along the continental shelves of the New England region of the USA, New Brunswick, Novascotia, and Newfoundland of Canada. Grand Banks also are important fishing grounds in the world. The productivity of the fish is very high due to the convergence or mixing of the cool Labrador ocean current with the Gulf stream near Newfoundland.

South-East Pacific Region

It extends along western coastal areas of South America, mainly the coasts of Chile and Peru. Peru is famous for its continuous upcoming nutrient-laden water that attracts a lot of fish. The nutrients are supplied from below due to the upwelling of cold water mass. During strong El Nino, the western coast of South America incurs huge losses in fishing as most of the fish types die.

West-Central Pacific Region

It extends from the Philippines to the eastern coastal areas of Australia.

Oceanic Abiotic Resources

These are non-living resources. They include mineral resources and energy resources.

Mineral Resources

Oceans contain both metallic and non-metallic resources. Running water transports the majority of these minerals from land to sea. The rest is made up of detritus (leftover components) from marine creatures and undersea volcanism. Only a few marine mineral deposits are currently economically viable for mining. Some of them are offshore oil, natural gas extraction, sodium chloride extraction, and magnesium and bromine salt extraction.

Surface deposits are found combined with sand on continental shelves and slopes. Sand is mined to obtain calcium carbonate along the Bahamas’ coast. Calcium carbonate is extracted from coral sands in Hawaii and Fiji.

A placer deposit is a collection of valuable heavy minerals that have been worn and eroded from their source rocks. Placer minerals can accumulate only a few kilometres away from their source rocks because of their high density. Deposits of marine placers build upon the continuous shelves close to the shoreline. Cassiterite (tin ore), ilmenite (titanium), rutile (titanium), zircon (zirconium), chromite (chromium), monazite (thorium), magnetite (iron), gold, and diamonds are the most economically essential placer minerals.

Hydrocarbon Deposits in the Sea

Large amounts of hydrocarbons can be found at depths of 1,000 to 2,000 meters below sea level. Shales, salt domes, and anticlinal folds in the ocean are major sources of hydrocarbons. Apart from liquid hydrocarbons, natural gas is also found.

Marine Phosphorite Deposits

Phosphorites are phosphate-containing natural substances They can be found in shallow water and as nodules on continental shelves and slopes. No offshore resources are currently being exploited because non-marine phosphates are abundant.

Deep-Sea Mineral Deposits

Manganese nodules (also known as polymetallic nodules) and metalliferous sediments are two economically important mineral deposits found in the deep sea.

Read More: Ocean Deposits

Polymetallic Nodules and Crusts of Marine Manganese

Manganese nodules are iron and manganese oxide concentrations that can include economically valuable quantities of manganese (30 per cent), nickel (1.25-1.5 per cent), copper (1%), and cobalt (0.25%). Iron (6%), silicon (5%), and aluminium are among the other components (3 per cent). These nodules are formed by metal precipitation from seawater, hot springs associated with volcanic activity, and metal hydroxides generated by microorganism activity.

Nodules are potentially attractive to future mining because of their abundance, composition, and occurrence as loose material on the seabed’s surface. The United States of America, Madagascar, Brazil, Antarctica, Argentina, Japan, South Africa, Canada, and India are the top ten countries with the biggest resource potential for nodules and crusts. One of the few areas where nodules have been discovered is in shallow waters in Papua New Guinea.

Gas Hydrate Deposits in the Sea

Gas hydrate is crystalline ice found at depths of the ocean and in shallow polar regions.  It’s made up of methane gas molecules wrapped in water molecules. Gas hydrate remains solid at great depths in the ocean because of freezing temperatures and high ocean pressure. Organic matter trapped in marine silt decomposes to produce dissolved gas. As a result, gas hydrate deposits are expected to form where the seafloor rises above 500 meters, and there is an unoxidized organic carbon source in marine sediments. At standard atmospheric pressure, gas hydrate breakdown produces 164 times its own volume of methane gas.

It is believed that gas hydrates contain more methane than is now in the atmosphere. They have double the energy of all carbon-based fossil fuels combined. Gas hydrates have been discovered on North and South America’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Evaporite Deposits in the Sea

The major components of marine evaporites include anhydrite, gypsum (calcium sulphates), sodium, magnesium, and potash-bearing minerals. The evaporation of seawater generates them in geologic basins. Salt domes and other diapiric structures are formed by the upward protrusion of rock salt (salt domes explained in Volcanism). They can create structures in the sedimentary strata suitable for hydrocarbon buildup.

Ocean Energy Resources

The energy carried by ocean waves, tides, salinity, and temperature differences is referred to as marine energy or marine power (also known as ocean energy, ocean power, or marine and hydrokinetic energy). The movement of water in the world’s oceans generates a massive reservoir of kinetic energy. Some of this energy can be used to generate electricity. This electricity can then be used to power homes, transportation, and industries.

The oceans contain enormous amounts of energy and are located near many of the world’s most densely populated areas. Ocean energy has the potential to provide a significant amount of new renewable energy all over the world.

We have already discussed Wave and Tidal energy in the Energy Resources segment. We will now discuss Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)

The process of generating electricity from the natural temperature difference (thermal gradient) of different ocean parts is called OTEC.  The OTEC plants are also known as Solar Sea Power plants. Solar energy heats the ocean’s surface. In tropical regions, surface water is generally warmer than deep water. This temperature difference is used to produce electricity and desalinate ocean water.

OTEC is a renewable source of energy. The supply is infinite. It is also environmentally friendly. However, it has remained untapped due to a lack of cost-effective technology. Makai Ocean Engineering’s OTEC  power plant in the US is the world’s biggest plant. It is located in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Ocean Resources UPSC

The conservation and wise use of the oceans, seas, and marine resources is a requirement of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14. Indian Ocean resource exploitation should be accelerated by India. Utilizing technology is necessary to utilise ocean resources in the Indian Ocean. In this direction, India has launched the O-SMART scheme, which aims at regulated usage of oceans and marine resources.

List of Important Ores
Aluminium Ore Copper Ore
Iron Ore Manganese Ore
Chromium Ore Cobalt Ore
Nickel Ore

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What is marine resources?

The physical and biological components of seas and oceans known as marine resources are helpful to humans. They consist of fish, crabs, coral reefs, fungi, etc. To safeguard these resources from human damage activities like pollution and overfishing, significant conservation effort is needed.

What are the 4 types of marine resources?

Typically, live and non-living resources are used to divide up marine resources. In addition, marine resources can be broken down into food, energy, and mineral resources.

What is the importance of marine resources?

They frequently perform crucial ecological tasks, safeguard the coasts, and are essential sources of food, energy, tourism, and economic growth. Such marine and coastal systems are threatened or under stress in many regions of the world due to a number of both natural and human-made factors.

What are the marine resources of India?

On the sea floor, there are sizable sulphide concentrations of manganese, copper, iron, zinc, silver, and gold as well as nodules rich in nickel, cobalt, and iron. Important sources of titanium, zirconium, tin, zinc, and copper can be found in coastal sediments from the Indian Ocean.

What are the characteristics of marine resources?

High salinity, fluctuating temperatures, a surface photic zone, and a deeper aphotic zone are some characteristics of the marine environment. Biodiversity varies according to depth and place. The following marine resources are available for extraction.

What are 3 ocean resources?

Energy resources (petroleum and gas) and raw materials can be found on the ocean floor (sand and gravel, phosphorite, corals and other biogenic carbonates, heavy metal ores).

What type of resource is ocean?

One of the most precious natural resources on Earth is the ocean. It offers food in the form of fish and shellfish, with an annual production of around 200 billion pounds. Ocean resources are of enormous economic significance and supply commodities, services, and employment for billions of people worldwide.

What are ocean resources examples?

Seaweed, jellyfish, sea urchins, sea turtles, seals, and even polychaete worms are a few examples. Fish make up the great majority of the marine resources gathered, accounting for about 84% of the global catch.


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