The next immediate difference would be the tides. Because the moon is so close to us, the pull of its gravity impacts our planet. It’s not as strong as the gravity that the Earth exerts upon the moon to hold it in orbit, but it’s enough to pull our oceans back and forth, a force we call “the tides.” Without the moon, tides would rise and fall at a much slower rate, about one third of their current fluctuation, says Matt Siegler, a research scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who works on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The tides wouldn’t completely stop moving as the sun also has some gravitational pull on the oceans, too, but not nearly as much as the moon.
A two-thirds reduction in tides would drastically alter coastal ecosystems, potentially destroying many of them and disrupting the flow of energy, water, minerals, and other resources. Entire ecosystems exist in the ocean areas between high and low tides. In these spaces, many species of crabs, snails, barnacles, mussels, sea stars, kelp, and algae rely on the daily coming and going of the tide for survival. These ecosystems in turn feed migrating and local birds as well as land mammals like bears, raccoons, and deer.