February 14, 2024 at 9:39 pm

What Would Happen If Every Saltwater Fish Disappeared?

by Trisha Leigh

We hear a lot about the myriad ways that climate change will change our planet and lives – mostly for the worse.

If you’re wondering, though, how each piece really fits into the puzzle, this one is for you.

Specifically, what would happen if every fish in the ocean vanished?

Fish make up the second-largest amount of all carbon-based life in the animal kingdom, which should give you some idea of just how many of them there are swimming around in the ocean.

Source: Pexels

They come in all shapes ad sizes and perform myriad roles in the ecosystems they inhabit. Those roles support the lives of myriad other organisms, so if they all disappeared one day, things would quickly fall apart.

One giant and obvious impact would be as food – thousands of species, including humans, rely on fish for food.

There many less obvious ways fish impact the world around them. One example is the land plants in the Western U.S. that benefit (in nitrogen) from the salmon who come through the area on their trek north.

Fish and other seafood are also an important protein source for nearly 3 billion people and have been integral to our survival for thousands of years.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

They benefit coral reefs by controlling the growth of algae and creating habitats by their grazing. Without them, the reefs would already be gone (if they would ever have developed in the first place).

Their excrement, displacement of sand, and a dozens of other seemingly small actions actually impact hundreds of habitats and affect the lives of thousands of organisms.

If the fish were gone, there would be no more white sand beaches, no coral reef ecosystems, a lack of a food resource, and a mass extinction event of the likes we’ve yet to witness.

Source: Pexels

So, if you’re wondering whether or not you should worry about the growing mass of pollution in the ocean (along with warming temperatures, overfishing, etc etc) the answer is definitely yes.

And honestly, you might want to bump it up the list.

Thought that was fascinating? Here’s another story you might like: Why You’ll Never See A Great White Shark In An Aquarium