All Russians know that the Black Sea coast is a great place to rest and recuperate. But few people are interested in what the water depths are hiding. But this reservoir is a unique natural phenomenon. The flora and fauna of the Black Sea, though not particularly diverse, but very interesting.
Features of the Black Sea
In its outline, the reservoir most resembles an oval, the largest axis of which has a direction from west to east and a length of about 1150 km. The maximum length from north to south is 580 km. Average depth – 1240 m. (max – 2210 m). The sea bowl holds about 555,000 km³ of water, which has one of the lowest percentages of salinity in the world. This factor, as well as the mild subtropical and Mediterranean climate makes the Black Sea a favorite vacation destination.
The distribution system of animals and plants in the Black Sea is very unusual. Only 13% of the total volume of water is inhabited by living organisms and that to a depth of no more than 200 m. Below this level, the water is saturated with hydrogen sulfide and only some species of anaerobic bacteria, which do not need oxygen, survive there. No other sea in the world has such a division into oxygen and hydrogen sulfide zones.
Diversity of fauna and flora
The relatively small living space is the main reason why the flora and fauna of the Black Sea is not very diverse. Vegetation is represented by various algae and phytoplankton. There are certain species whose diet consists entirely of organics. But the vast majority “get their food” the traditional way – by photosynthesis.
The animal world consists of 2.5 thousand species. (by comparison, there are about 9,000 species in the Mediterranean). The greatest number of invertebrates in the Black Sea – 1140 species. Single-celled and crustaceans account for 500 each, mollusks for 200, and vertebrates (fish and mammals) for 160.
Black Sea Flora
Each plant representative of the depths and coast of the Black Sea is worthy of special attention. And in one article the information about them simply would not fit. So let’s focus on the most revealing ones.
Peridinium algae (dinoflagellates)
They are part of the phytoplankton. These are single-celled algae whose presence in the water can be clearly seen only during the so-called “blooming” period. During the hottest period, they begin to actively reproduce, and their concentration increases several dozen times. The water takes on a distinctly green hue. This is especially noticeable in bays and estuaries. Dinoflagellates are an important link in the food chain.
A special kind of peridinium algae. It lacks chlorophyll, so it feeds on finished organic matter. The algae got its name – nochesvetka – for its phosphorescent abilities. Thanks to it in August you can observe a phenomenon of stunning beauty – the water begins to glow with a bluish shimmering and very mysterious light.
This type of algae is represented by two subspecies – whitewater and wading algae. Both prefer shallow water. The first covers the wet stones with emerald velvet. The second looks like a tangled bundle of thin green threads.
It was called wandering because it swims freely in the water and does not tend to stay in one place. Its threads are both “branches” and “roots. And when a piece of algae comes off, it starts to develop on its own.
Also refers to filamentous algae, but has a red or burgundy color. It grows in shallow water among the rocks. A large number of transverse lime rings support the shape of the plant. This gives the ceramium a funny, almost decorative look: a bush of burgundy striped woolen threads with a loop at the end.
A species of brown algae that forms entire thickets on hard soils. Sometimes its height is comparable to the height of a person. Many small animals (fish, mussels, worms, etc.) live among its branches. Epiphytes – algae-parasites like to settle on the cystosier itself.
Zoostera or Vzmarnik
An amazing phenomenon – grass that has adapted to life under water. It grows on the sand, away from the shore. Refers to higher flowering plants. In the narrow, long green leaves like to frolic fry, hide needlefish and seahorse, lay eggs sea foxes (rays).
Interesting fact about plants of the Black Sea! Many algae are not only an important part of the ecosystem, but are also widely used by humans for their needs. For example, cystosera is used to produce a paint thickener (sodium alginate), phyllophora is used in the confectionery industry and pharmacology, and dried zostera is used to stuff upholstered furniture.
Black Sea Fauna
The Black Sea is home to a wide variety of animals, from unicellular animals to mammals. Although the diversity of fauna is much scarcer than in other seas, there are unique and very interesting species.
Two species of jellyfish live in the Black Sea – Aurelia and Kornerot. These animals are not hunted because they are 98% water and cannot be food for a predator. But that doesn’t mean jellyfish are useless. They are like filters, filtering through the water to clear it of plankton. They are good forecasters – 12-15 hours before the start of the storm they swim away from shore. Aurelia is smaller and completely safe for humans. An encounter with corneret can leave nettle-like burns on the skin. It does not threaten any complications, but it is quite unpleasant.
Bivalve mollusk, on the seabed at a considerable distance from the shore (up to 20 km). On land, the surf often throws out empty flaps that look like a fan. Scallops “invented” a very original way of moving: opening and closing the flaps, they, pushing water, bounce.
When the mollusk is not threatened, it releases sensitive tentacles that form a picturesque fringe around the edge of the shell. When danger approaches, the tentacles hide and the scallop “runs away.
For the raptor, the Black Sea is not its original homeland. This predatory mollusk “entered” this body of water through the Dardanelles and Bosporus Straits and was first recorded in 1947. In its new home it did not have its main enemies – sea stars. Therefore, the population quickly increased, causing considerable harm to oysters and scallops, which the rapana feeds on. The clam is edible and tastes like sturgeon.
Another type of edible clam. These soft-bodied bivalves live attached to rocks, cliffs, and even pier supports. They kiss the water, extracting oxygen and useful organic substances from it. Black Sea pearls can form in them. Fried mussel meat is very tasty and highly nutritious.
Information about the animals of the Black Sea coast will not be complete without mentioning the “sanitary of the beaches” – crabs. According to zoologists, there are 19 species, most of which are included in the Red Book. Black Sea crabs are rarely larger than 12 cm in carapace width. Only certain species can be eaten.
The marine fauna of the Black Sea abounds in different species of fish, 15 of which are categorized as commercial. These are the well-known flounder (Kalkan), mullet, pelengas, anchovy (khamsa), sprat, red mullet, horse mackerel, etc.
Bullfrogs of the perch family are especially respected. During the Great Patriotic War, they saved many people from starvation, and the locals affectionately called them breadwinners. The Black Sea garfish is also a commercial fish. What is surprising is the fact that his bones and blood are green in color.
Katran or Black Sea shark
An adult female can reach a length of up to 2 meters and a weight of up to 15 kg. The male is somewhat smaller. There is no direct danger to humans. But you should avoid its spiny fins, covered with poisonous mucus. Scratching them can cause severe swelling. Is the subject of sports fishing.
Scorpene or sea ruffe
The body of the fish is covered with poisonous spines, the prick of which is very painful and can lead to intoxication with fever and swelling of the wounded area. Fatal outcome for a man encounter with the scorpionfish is not threatening, but the fish risked his life. It is hunted for its delicious meat.
This fish is a native inhabitant of tropical waters, but occasionally appears in the Black Sea. It got its name because of the long and strong upper jaw. It is a large representative of marine fauna: it can be up to 4 meters long and about 0.5 tons in weight. Sport fishermen love to hunt for it.
The appearance is fully consistent with the name. The long, narrow body is up to 23 cm long, very much like an igloo. It has no gastronomic value whatsoever. It is a feeding ground for larger marine predators. Locals often use the unusual fish to make souvenirs.
Outwardly very unattractive fish. It has a slightly flattened body from above, covered with excrescences, and a huge toothy mouth. Refers to the bottom species, lives at a depth of 30-50 m. Spends most of its life “in ambush” waiting for prey. It is very voracious and is able to swallow fish of the same size as itself (up to 1.5 meters in length).
Few people will remain indifferent when they see packs of dolphins frolicking in the water. There are three species of these marine mammals in the Black Sea:
- Aphalins are the largest. Their body length can reach 3 m and weigh more than 100 kg. To keep the willow alive, at least 15 kg of fish must be eaten per day.
- The Squirrel is smaller in size (up to 2 m long, weighing about 60 kg). Rarely do they come ashore. They live in large flocks – the number of individuals can reach 2 thousand. They have a very high level of social development. There have been officially documented cases of young dolphins helping older, exhausted dolphins to rise to the surface to take a breath.
- Azovka or porpoise are the smallest and quite rare. About 5 kg of fish per day is enough to feed them.
Among the interesting facts about the life of animals of the Black Sea coast is the ability of dolphins to make a large number of sounds. And even imitate human speech. But playback is purely mechanical (like parrots), without any meaning.
The animal world of the Black Sea coast
Facts about the land animals around the Black Sea that live on land are impossible to fit into one article. In coastal forests you can find representatives of predators: fox, jackal, lynx, bear, etc. The largest populations of herbivores are deer, roe deer, and hares. Boars, otters, and bats are not uncommon here. There are many representatives of the bird kingdom: hawks, grouse, pheasants, jays, crows, etc. Naturally, there are also waterfowl. These are gulls, cormorants, ducks, gulls, swans, etc. They hunt small fish, etc. marine life.
The Mystery of the Black Sea
As mentioned above, all the plants and animals of the Black Sea coast and depths live in the upper oxygen layer. Below is a water layer saturated with hydrogen sulfide. There is an opinion that there may be an inhabited world underneath it. And the reason for the spread of such a theory was an underwater river that originated in the Bosporus Strait and carries its waters to the bottom plains. It does not mix with the Black Sea water, which means it delivers oxygen and food to the depths.
The combination of these factors may have triggered the development of deep-sea life forms. But to find out how true this theory is, you can only by practical way – by going down to the seabed.
Video overview of the living world of the Black Sea
Going on vacation, pay attention not only to swimming and walks on the beach and embankments, but also to admire the animals and plants of the Black Sea coast. Interesting facts about the life of marine flora and fauna will reveal nature to the observer. And then not only souvenirs will bring a holidaymaker from vacation, but also new knowledge and interesting stories.