Texas Aquatic Science Chapter 2 Video Introduction (Click on arrow above to play video) The earth’s water is one, finite...
We are all connected by water. All living things need water. The earth has a remarkable system of transporting and recycling water for our use. Because we live on a planet, with a finite supply of water, we must take care of our natural resources, especially the water we use where we live. It doesn’t matter if we are a community of humans or a community of aquatic plants and animals, we all live downstream of someone or some organism that needs and uses the water. We should treat the water that we use the same way we hope the water we use was treated by others.
The Gulf of Mexico is the ninth largest ocean basin in the world, covering almost 600,000 square miles. This is twice the size of Texas. At its deepest point the bottom is 2.7 miles underwater, but most of the Gulf is much shallower. About 60% of the Gulf is less than 700 feet deep. The Gulf is one of the most productive waters in the world for aquatic organisms. It provides habitat for many of our most important seafoods. The Gulf is productive in other ways, too. The Gulf holds one of the world’s largest reserves of oil and gas, leading to an extensive petroleum industry. The Gulf’s combination of ecosystem productivity, industrial importance, and accessibility has made it one of the most important waters to people on Earth as well as one of the most threatened by human actions and neglect.
Aquifers and springs have attracted humans to settle nearby where water is abundant, but careful use of water is necessary to balance the recharge of aquifers with the use by people. Aquifers and springs also provide aquatic habitats where unique species may live on the brink of extinction.
The hydrologic cycle works like a huge water pump powered by solar energy and gravity. It is a global system, and every molecule of water on Earth travels through it. Because it is a cycle, it has no beginning or end. For three and a half billion years, the Earth’s water has been moving from streams to lakes to oceans, flowing underground, sitting high up on mountain glaciers, freezing and melting on the edges of the polar ice caps and forming clouds in the atmosphere. Average weather conditions over time is what we call climate. Texas is so large it is affected by air drawn in from the Pacific Ocean as well as the humid topical air flowing in from the Gulf of Mexico.