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pelagic zone:see oceanocean,
interconnected mass of saltwater covering 70.78% of the surface of the earth, often called the world ocean. It is subdivided into four (or five) major units that are separated from each other in most cases by the continental masses. See also oceanography.
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that part of a lake, sea, or ocean that is the habitat of pelagic organisms—plankton, necton, and pleuston. The pelagic zone is opposed to the benthic zone, that is, the bottom of the body of water, which is inhabited by benthos.
In oceans and seas, the pelagic zone is divided horizontally into two regions: the neritic (water above the shelf) and the oceanic (all the remaining water). Vertically the zone is divided, usually depending on the degree of illumination, into three regions: the euphotic (well illuminated), the dysphotic (feebly illuminated), and the aphotic (lightless). The zone is also broken down according to the distribution of life into the epipelagic, mesopelagic, and deep-water regions. In freshwaters, the pelagic zone is divided horizontally into two regions: the shore region (the water near the shore) and the pelagic region proper (all the remaining water). Vertically three regions are distinguished according to the rate of temperature drop: the epilimnion, the metalimnion, and the hypolimnion.