Essential Principle 5

The Bay of Bengal supports a broad diversity of life and ecosystems



A. The Bay of Bengal supports life both in water and on land, and life in the bay ranges in size; from microbes to whales, crocodiles and Bengal tigers. The presence of different water masses in coastal areas has produced sub-systems along the coast that differ in their environmental characteristics, ecology, and biodiversity.

B. Most life in the Bay of Bengal exists as microorganisms. Microorganisms such as phytoplankton and cyanobacteria are the most important primary producers in the bay.

C. The Bay of Bengal and its basin areas are very nutrient rich and support organisms from every kingdom on our planet.

D. The Bay of Bengal provides many examples of life cycles, adaptations and important relationships among organisms, such as symbiosis, predator-prey dynamics and energy transfers.

E. The Bay of Bengal provides habitats for both terrestrial and aquatic species. The bay’s large marine ecosystem is three-dimensional, offering vast living space and diverse habitats from the shoreline and surface down through the water column to the seafloor.

F. Habitats in the bay are defined by environmental factors. As a result of interactions involving abiotic factors such as temperature, clarity, depth, oxygen, pH, light, nutrients, pressure, substrate type and circulation; life in the Bay of Bengal is not evenly distributed spatially or temporally. Abiotic factors within the bay’s large marine ecosystem can change daily, seasonally or annually because of natural and human influences.

G. Ecosystem processes influence the distribution and diversity of organisms from the surface to bottom and nearshore to offshore in the bay.

H. Having a diverse range of ecosystems (wetland, seagrass beds, mangroves, salt marsh, coral reefs) in the Bay of Bengal provides productive nursery areas for many aquatic and terrestrial species which rely on these habitats for protective structure, hunting grounds, migration stops, and raising offspring.

I. The introduction of invasive alien species causes degradation of ecosystems, causing major challenges to the conservation of marine biodiversity in the Bay of Bengal.


Version: January 2019

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