By Trevor Day
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Extra resources for Oceans (Biomes of the Earth)
Second, the wetland mud behaves like a chemical processing factory. The mud particles attract and hold poisonous heavy metals such as lead and mercury. The roots of marsh plants absorb nitrates, such as those originating from fertilizers spread on agricultural land. The wetlands thus “clean” the water that passes through them, preventing many harmful substances from washing off the land and into the sea. Finally, coastal wetlands are important nurseries (places where young grow) for valuable fish and shellfish.
In 2000 the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the organization that decides geographical names and boundaries in the ocean, designated the boundary of the Southern Ocean at latitude 60°S. This arrangement served practical and political purposes. The 60°S boundary coincides with the Antarctic Treaty boundary based on an international agreement that governs how Antarctica and its ocean waters should be used and protected. The natural boundary of the Southern Ocean is a feature called the Antarctic 15 16 OCEANS Convergence.
In tropical and subtropical climates they form mangrove swamps (see “Missing mangroves,” pages 212–213). Many people are familiar with the strange, barren landscape of a North American or European salt marsh, where clumps of tough marsh plants grow between muddy creeks. In summer the air is filled with the song of skylarks. In winter flocks of gray geese arrive from their Arctic breeding grounds. At the salt marsh’s seaward edge salt-tolerant cord grasses are almost the only land plants that survive.