Most familiar forms of sea life occupy the neritic zone, including crabs, shrimp and zooplankton, and the animals that feed upon them, such as coral, sponges and baleen whales. The neritic zone is the relatively shallow area of ocean extending from the coast to the edge of the continental shelf.
The neritic zone is about 650 feet deep at maximum. Its proximity to the sun makes it a richly productive location for plankton that use sunlight to make food, just as terrestrial plants do. These plankton are fed upon by other plankton, herbivorous fish, filter-feeders and small crustaceans. These herbivores are fed upon by larger predatory fish, molluscs and crustaceans. At the top level, seabirds, seals, penguins and sea otters consume smaller marine predators. These animals thrive in the neritic zone, but they are not often found far from the coast.