17th May, 2023 Environment
Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.
- It has been observed that Ocean acidification is not only more dangerous for shelled, smaller sea butterflies but can impact entire ocean food web.
- The sea butterflies, a suborder of sea snails, are tiny creatures that play a big role in the marine ecosystem.
- But the smallest species in this group found in the Southern Ocean are extremely vulnerable to climate change and their population is shrinking in a warming world.
- The shelled pteropods (group of free-swimming sea snails) live at or very close to the ocean surface.
- Like snails, they have muscular feet that they use as flappers to swim around in water, instead of glide on solid surface.
- As the sea absorbs an increasing quantity of carbon dioxide (CO2) that turns the water more acidic, the thin outer casing, or the ‘homes’ of these small sea butterflies, dissolve.
- This leaves them exposed, making it difficult for these delicate species to survive.
IN A NUTSHELL
About Sea butterflies
- Scientific name: Thecosomata
- They are a taxonomic suborder of small pelagic swimming sea snails.
- They have some form of calcified shell, although it is often very light and / or transparent.
- The sea butterflies include some of the world's most abundant gastropod species, and because of their large numbers are an essential part of the food chain, and a significant contributor to the oceanic carbon cycle.
- The sea butterflies are included in the Pteropoda order, and are also included in the informal group Opisthobranchia.
- Sea butterflies float and swim freely in the water, and are carried along with the currents.
- This has led to a number of adaptations in their bodies.
Importance in the food chain
- These creatures, which range from lentil- to orange-sized, are eaten by various marine species, including a wide variety of fish that are, in turn, consumed by penguins and polar bears.
- The sea butterflies form the sole food source of their relatives, the Gymnosomata.
- They are also consumed by sea birds, whales, and commercially important fish.
- However, if sea butterflies are consumed in large quantities fish can get "black gut", which makes them unsellable.
Q) Which of the following statements with reference to Sea butterflies is/are incorrect?
1. Because of their large numbers are an essential part of the food chain, and a significant contributor to the oceanic carbon cycle..
2. Like sea snails, they use flappers to glide on solid surface.
Correct Answer: 2