Environmental Protection Agency Narragansett Bay Commission University of Rhode Island Office of Marine Programs

Estuarine Science

Pelagic Community

1. What is the pelagic community?
2. How do we investigate the Pelagic Community?
3. Why are nekton important to the biological community of estuaries?
4. What types of nekton live in Narragansett Bay?


1. What is the pelagic community?

The pelagic community lives in the water column above the seafloor and below the surface. It consists of free swimming creatures known as nekton. Unlike plankton that are at the mercy of the winds, tides and currents, nekton are capable of moving through the water at will. They are predominately vertebrates, including fishes, reptiles, birds and mammals. Some free-swimming invertebrates such as squid are also nektonic.


Silversides
(Courtesy of Jerry Prezioso)

Most estuaries, including Narragansett Bay are highly productive. These relatively shallow waters are rich in nutrients that support photosynthetic phytoplankton. Plankton are abundant in estuaries and serve as a food source for larger organisms. Small fish, bivalves and crustaceans feed on the plankton and they in turn become food for larger pelagic animals including larger fish, birds, and seals.


1. What is the pelagic community?
2. How do we investigate the Pelagic Community?
3. Why are nekton important to the biological community of estuaries?
4. What types of nekton live in Narragansett Bay?


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