The Effects of Hurricanes in Marine Ecosystems

hurricane damageEveryone knows the devastating aftermath that is left behind by hurricanes. However, not everyone knows the specific details of the situation. Houses get flooded out, reefs erode and turtles become displaced. Whether the storm is light or heavy, there are lasting hurricane effects on marine ecosystems.

A hurricane has different ways of affecting a coastal ecosystem. Strong winds and deep water ruin an area and compromise the lives of aquatic animals. A flood causes erosion that affects water beds and reefs. Saltwater that enters a non-salty region can cause high numbers of fish deaths. Once the habitat is undermined, the rebuilding process takes weeks or years. Some floodwater runs over exposed pollutants and then enters the sea. The water is full of toxins like pesticides and uncovered sewage. Toxins reduce the cleanliness of water and reduce oxygen levels.

The wind is a strong factor that causes just as much damage as water. It destroys the equipment of boaters and fishermen. Their activities are thrown off schedule. In regards to the ecosystem, a storm can destroy boats and pollute the water with debris.

A hurricane causes the most problems on the coast where it applies the most force. Fast winds, heavy rains and floods are guaranteed to inflict some damage. A storm surge leads to sediment erosion. The protective parts will dwindle below sea level. Non-aquatic animals suffer as well. When the wind hits, the birds and rodents have to leave right away. The wetlands and forests become unlivable for some creatures.

hurricane damage2Even though a hurricane can damage a marine ecosystem, the same area can eventually rebuild itself. After a few years, the fish and animal populations return to the original numbers. Even after many fish are killed, the populations recover immediately. People are able to clean up streams of polluted trash and debris. Otherwise, the debris disintegrates over time. Marine biologists and coastal residents should know about the effects that one hurricane has on the environment.

Images via U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Regiondiveofficer


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