“Marine algae (or marine botanicals) range in size from microscopic to towering, and can broadly be divided into three main groups: green algae, brown algae and red algae with each designation being derived from these species’ actual coloration. All algae have two primary functions – primary production and the creation of habitat. Both functions are critical to maintaining balance beneath the ocean’s surface.
Think of primary production as the foundation of the food chain – tiny phytoplankton (the smallest of all algae) float in the water converting sunlight and carbon dioxide to food sources that are consumed by zooplankton. Zooplankton (the smallest animals in the sea) are then consumed by small fish. These small fish are in turn consumed by bigger fish, and the links in the food chain multiply from there.
In addition to forming the foundation of the ocean’s food chain, algae also create the oxygen necessary to help support respiring marine species. It’s easy to forget that fish need to breathe underwater. Through photosynthesis, carbon taken from carbon dioxide is used to help the algae grow, and oxygen is released into the water. Fish, crabs, clams, tuna, and sharks…to name just a few…all respire oxygen present in the water in order to live.”