LIFE ON THE SHORE AND IN THE SEA
the first colonists of Surtsey’s coastal environment were diatoms
discovered on the sandy beach in August 1964.
The dispersal methods used by marine organisms
to reach Surtsey are numerous. Algae have planktonic spores, and many
marine animals have planktonic larvae that are dispersed by ocean currents.
Such organisms are dispersed over long distances. Marine animals that
give birth to living offspring that are similar in appearance to their
parents are usually not dispersed by way of ocean currents but must
crawl or swim to new destinations. Colonization of new habitats is difficult
for such organisms. Animals that had a sessile larval stage and lived
on the bottom of the sea nearby when the eruption began had an advantage
compared to other benthic species. They were able to colonize the new
land as soon as the eruption subsided and the ash no longer covered
them. In addition, it may be possible that birds carried spores and
larvae of marine animals in their feathers, as most seagulls and wading
birds look for food in the sublittoral zone.
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