Glossary of Terms

Acid: A substance that increases the H+ concentration when added to an aqueous solution.

Acid Rain: Rain with a low pH level caused by pollutants that have been released into the atmosphere.

Algae: Any living thing found in an aquatic environment that obtains energy from sunlight through photosynthesis.

Algal Bloom: A rapid increase in an algae population in an aquatic system, leading to an accumulation of algae.

Anoxic: Lacking oxygen.

Anthropogenic: Caused by human activity.

Apex Predator: A species at the top of the food web

Aqueous Solution: A solution in which a substance is dissolved into water.

Aquifer: An underground lake, often between saturated soil and rock, that yields groundwater to supply wells and springs.

Artificial Reef: A reef created by humans.

Autotroph: Any organism that produces its own energy through photosynthesis or chemosynthesis (using chemicals rather than sunlight, as in photosynthesis).

Base: A substance that increases the OH- concentration when added to an aqueous solution.

Binomial Nomenclature: A system of naming living organisms by their genus and species.

Biodiversity: The diversity of organisms in a given area.  Diversity may refer to the number of different species or may refer to genetic differences between individuals within a single species.

Biofuel: Fuel derived from living things; usually plants.

Bioremediation: A process in which hydrocarbon-consuming bacteria are used to break oil into water and carbon dioxide.

Booms: Large floating barriers that prevent oil from spreading by containing it in a small area.

Brevetoxins: Toxins released by Karenia Brevis that are poisonous to vertebrate animals.

Brine Pool: Small, salty lakes on the bottom of the ocean with distinct surfaces and shorelines.

Burning: A process in which oil is burned off the surface of the water.

Bycatch: Any marine organisms caught unintentionally by fishermen while intending catch other species.

Calcifying Organisms: Marine organisms with skeletons made of calcium carbonate.

Carcinogen: Any substance that is known to cause cancer.

Catch Rates: The amount of fish caught during a specific period of time.

Centrifugal Force: A force that causes something to move away from the center.

Classification: A system of classifying living organisms.

Commercial Fishing: Capturing fish and other seafood to earn a profit

Continental Shelf: The border of a continent that slopes gradually into the ocean.

Coral: A living marine organism that forms colonies of polyps; provides habitat for many marine creatures.

Coral Bleaching: The process of corals expelling their zooxanthellae due to high temperatures or other environmental stressors; causes coral to appear white and eventually die.

Coral Reef: An underwater ridge consisting of coral, the algae, plants and animals that grows on it, and various minerals.

Coriolis Effect: The apparent (when viewed from Earth) deflection of objects (including air) above he surface of the Earth as a result of the Earth’s rotation.  Objects in the Northern Hemisphere appear to curve to the right whereas objects in the Southern Hemisphere appear to curve to the left.

Crude Oil: A mixture of naturally occurring hydrocarbons found deep underground; generated naturally from decaying plant and animal material exposed to heat and pressure over millions of years.

Current: The steady flow of water in a prevailing direction.

Decomposer: An organism that consumes dead or decaying matter.

Deep Ocean Current: Water movement patterns more than 300 feet below the surface of the ocean.

Density: The measurement of mass per unit of volume of a substance

Dispersants: Chemicals used to break oil into small droplets, which are then scattered throughout the water column.

Diurnal Tide: A tide pattern characterized by one high tide and one low tide in a day.

Domestic Landings: Fish caught in the United States.

Ebb Tide: The period during which sea level falls over several hours in transition from high tide to low tide.

Endangered: At high risk of becoming extinct.

Endocrine System: A system of glands throughout the body, each of which discharges a type of hormone into the bloodstream to regulate body functions.

Energy: The ability to do work.

Energy Source: A source from which energy can be obtained.

Enzyme: A substance that speeds up a reaction.

Equilibrium: A stable situation in which two forces are in balance.

Estuary: A coastal body of water where freshwater and saltwater mix.

Eukaryote: An organism whose cells contain a nucleus.

Eukaryotic: Having a nucleus.

Eutrophication: The process in which excessive nutrients are added to an aquatic system.

Extinct: No longer in existence.

Fish Kill: An event in which large numbers of fish are killed by brevetoxins.

Fishery: The industry or occupation devoted to the catching, processing, or selling of fish, shellfish, or other aquatic animals.

Flood Tide: The period during which sea level rises over several hours in transition from low tide to high tide.

Florida Red Tide: A harmful algal bloom that is the result of an accumulation of the microalgae Karenia Brevis.

Fossil Fuel: Fuel consisting of the remains of organisms preserved in rocks beneath the Earth’s surface over millions of years; includes petroleum, coal, and natural gas.

Freshwater: Naturally occurring water on the Earth’s surface that is characterized by low concentrations of dissolved salts (less than 500 parts per million).

Genera: Plural of genus

Genus: The taxonomic group more specific than family and less specific than species.

Global Conveyor Belt: A large-scale ocean circulation pattern driven by wind and density differences in the ocean.  Cool, high salinity water sinks in the North Atlantic, travels in deep ocean currents south to Antartica, east across the globe, and north to the North Pacific, where it rises to the surface due to upwelling.  Water then moves in surface ocean currents south and west toward the tip of Africa and north via the Gulf Stream, returning finally to the North Atlantic.

Global Warming: The increase in the average temperature of Earth’s air and oceans cause by excess carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

Goliath Grouper: The largest of the grouper species; can reach 800 lbs.

Gravity: The force of attraction between all objects with mass in the universe.

Groundwater: Water beneath the Earth’s surface, often in aquifers, that supplies wells and springs.

Groupers: Fish belonging to the family Serranidae; teleosts.

Gulf Stream: A warm ocean current that flows from the Gulf of Mexico northward through the Atlantic Ocean.

Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB): An algal bloom that has negative impacts.

Heat Engine: A device that converts heat energy into useful power.

Heterotroph: Any organism that obtains its energy from consuming other organisms.

Highly Migratory Species (HMS): Species, in this case fish species, that undertake migrations of significant distances for feeding or reproduction.

Hydrocarbons: Compounds that contain only carbon and hydrogen.

Hydropower: Power derived from the energy of moving water.

Hypereutrophic: Having too many nutrients.

Hypoxic Zone (Dead Zone): Low-oxygen areas in the world’s oceans where most organisms struggle to survive.

Intertidal Zone: The area that is underwater at high tide and exposed to air during low tide.

Invasive Species: A species that does not occur naturally in a specific area but has been introduced.

Ion: A charged particle.

Irrigate: To supply land with water, usually to grow plants.

Karenia Brevis: The microalgae responsible for the occurrence of Florida Red Tide; a solitary dinoflagellate that releases brevetoxins.

Kinetic Energy: Working energy; energy in motion.

Kingdom Protista: The “junk drawer” Kingdom; includes Eukaryotes that are not animals, plants, or fungi.

Lentic: Of or relating to still water – ponds, or lakes.

Logarithmic: A scale that is based on the power to which each number must be raised in order to produce a given number.

Longlining: The commercial fishing method of using a long line, called the main line, with many baited hooks attached; results in a high rate of bycatch.

Longshore Current: A current created by the energy released when waves break on the beach; these currents travel parallel to the beach.

Lotic: Of or relating to moving water – streams or rivers.

Macroalgae: Large, multicellular marine plants.

Mangrove: A coastal tree that is adapted to saltwater; provides important nursery habitat for many juvenile fish species.

Marine Current Power: Energy captured from the movement of currents.

Marine Oil Spill: Any situation where oil is released by human activity into the ocean or coastal waters.

Marine Protected Area (MPA): An area where natural resources are given greater protection than in the surrounding waters.

Microalgae: Single-celled photosynthetic marine organisms that cannot be seen without a microscope.

Monomer: One unit in a polymer.

Natural Gas: A fossil fuel in the gaseous state; often used for cooking and heating homes.

Natural Resource: A naturally occurring material that is valuable to people and/ or wildlife.

Neap Tide: A tide with very small tidal range.

Necropsy: A medical examination that takes place after the death of a non-human organism.

Neurolytic Shellfish Poisoning: A severe form of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning that can cause extreme neurological disorders and death.

Non-Point Source: A non-specific source of nutrient input.

Nonrenewable Energy: Energy derived from a source that we are using up but cannot replace.

North Pacific Gyre: A Pacific ocean current that has attracted large amounts of trash.

Nuclear Power: Energy derived from the splitting of a large nucleus into multiple smaller nuclei.

Nurdles: Plastic pieces under 5 mm in diameter that often resemble zooplankton and other common sources of food for marine species.

Nutrient Enrichment: The addition of more nutrients to a body of water than its inhabitants require for normal life, growth, and reproduction.

Nutrient Loading: The rapid addition of nutrients to a system.

Ocean Acidification: The ongoing decrease in the pH level of the world’s oceans.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC): A process that uses the temperature differences that exist between deep and shallow waters to run a heat engine.

Ocean Wave Energy: Energy captured directly from surface waves or from pressure changes below the surface of the water that are caused by waves.

Offshore Wind Farm: A group of turbines located far from the coast; used to generate wind power.

Oil Drilling: The process of puncturing the earth’s surface and rock layers to extract fossil fuels.

Oiled: The term used to describe wildlife that has been coated in oil.

Oil Reservoir: An area where crude oil naturally collects.

Oil Spill: The release of liquid petroleum into the environment due to human activity.

Overfishing: The practice of fishing a body of water to a degree that the supply of fish or shellfish is exhausted and the nearby ecological balance is upset; the removal of fish from the water faster than they can reproduce.

Pacific Trash Vortex: The accumulation of trash in the North Pacific Gyre.

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP): A serious and potentially deadly illness caused by the consumption of shellfish that have been exposed to Florida Red Tide.

Parts Per Million (PPM): A way to express the concentration of dissolved or mixed substances.  The amount of a substance dissolved or mixed compared to a million parts of the substance in which it is dissolved or mixed.  This measure is independent of the units of measure, as long as they are the same; it is abbreviated as ppm.  For example, one gram of salt dissolved in 1 million grams of water is 1 ppm.  One pound of sugar mixed in 1 million pounds of flour is 1 ppm.

Pelagic: A term that relates to open oceanic regions, far away from land.

Petroleum: See crude oil.

pH: A measure of how acidic or basic a substance is.

pH Scale: A measure of the number of H+ ions in a solution.

Photosynthesis: The process by which organisms derive energy from the sun.

Physiological: Relating to the body.

Phytoplankton: Plant-like plankton.

Pigment: Substances produced by living organisms that have a color.

Plankton: Marine organisms whose movements are dictated mostly by the currents.

Plastic: A common term used to describe man-made polymers.

Pneumatocyst: A gas-filled chamber that helps keep algae near the sunlit surface of the water where it can photosynthesize.

Point Source: A specific and highly identifiable source of nutrient input.

Pollution: The undesirable state of the natural environment being contaminated with harmful substances as a consequence of human activities.

Polymer: Large molecules composed of repeating structural units (made up of carbon and other elements); each unit in a polymer is called a monomer.

Polyps: The individual organisms that comprise coral colonies.

Potable: Freshwater that is safe for human consumption.

Potential Energy: Stored energy.

Prokaryote: An organism that lacks a nucleus.

Protist: Any organism belonging to the Kingdom Protista.

Protogynous Hermaphrodite: An organisms that is begins its life as a female and morphs into a male.

Quota: A limit, here a limit on the amount of fish that can be caught.

Recycle: To reuse waste materials; often involves treating or processing materials so that they can be used again.

Red Drift Algae: A type of algae that can lead to Harmful Macroalgal blooms commonly experienced in Southwest Florida.

Reef: A line or ridge of coral, rocks, sand, or other structure that rises to or near the surface of the ocean.

Refined Oil: Crude oil that has been processed into other products, including diesel and gasoline.

Renewable Energy: Energy derived from a source that is naturally replenished within a relatively short time period (decades).

Renewable Resource: Any resource that can be replenished naturally with the passage of time.

Rip Current: A current that is the result of water funneling out of a narrow opening; the water flows away from land.

Runoff: Excess water from rain, snowmelt, or other sources that is not absorbed by soil; runoff often picks up contaminants as it flows along the ground, eventually depositing them in freshwater systems.

Sargassum Weed: A type of algae that provides important habitat for many marine species; large patches are often found floating in the Gulf Stream.

Semidiurnal Tide: A tide pattern characterized by two high tides and two low tides in a day.

Skimming: The process of skimming oil off the surface of the water using specially equipped boats.

Shrimping: The practice of harvesting shrimp for commercial use; usually involves the use of trawl nets, which are dragged across the ocean floor.

Sigsbee Deep: A deep ocean trough over 12,000 feet deep and 300 miles long in the southwest part of the Gulf of Mexico.

Single-Celled: An organism made up entirely of one cell.

Slack Tide: The occurrence of still water between high and low tide.

Sorbents: Special absorbent pads used to soak up oil from the surface of the water.

Spawning: The release of many eggs and sperm into open water for the purpose of fertilization and reproduction.

Species: A very specific group of organisms.  Individuals within the same species are able to reproduce fertile offspring.

Specific Epitaph: The second part of a binomial name that refers to the organisms’ species.

Sp.: An abbreviation for species that refers to all organisms belonging to one single species.

Spp.: An abbreviation for species that refers to all species belonging to a specific genus.

Sport Fishing: Fishing for the purpose of pleasure or competition.

Spring Tide: A tide with very large tidal range.

Storm Water Drain: A constructed opening in a road system through which runoff from the road flows into an underground system of pipes, eventually leading to nearby freshwater or marine systems.

Surface Current: Ocean currents that occur at less than 300 feet below the surface of the ocean; most ocean currents are wind-driven.

Surface Ocean Current: Surface currents found in the open ocean (pelagic regions), driven mostly by global wind patterns.

Sustainable: In a manner that will not have long term negative impacts on the environment or population of organisms.

Taxonomy: A system of naming living organisms.

Teleosts: Finfish characterized by stout bodies and large, bony mouths.

Tidal Current: The movement of water caused by the changing of tides.

Tidal Power: A form of energy that converts the energy of tides into useful forms of power.

Tidal Range: The vertical distance between the high and low tide each cycle.

Tide: The rise and fall in sea level caused by the gravitational forces of the moon and sun in combination with the rotation of the Earth.

Tidal Current: The movement of water caused by the changing of tides

Tidal Range: The vertical distance between the high and low tide each day.

Trawling: A method of fishing that involves pulling a large net through the water; has a high rate of bycatch.

Turbine: Amachine that converts moving energy into mechanical power, which can then be used to generate electricity.

Vacuuming: The process of sucking up oil and water, then separating the two substances using a centrifuge.

Water Circulation: The continuous movement of water on, above, and below the surface of the Earth.

Wildlife Management Area: A designated space within a Marine Protected Area that is managed to protect the habitat of species at high risk of becoming endangered or extinct.

Zooplankton: Animal-like plankton.

Zooxanthellae: A type of algae that grows within the cells of coral making up coral reefs; provides energy to coral through photosynthesis and is responsible for coral’s color.