Save the plankton!

Save the whales? Sure. Save the turtles? Ditto. But if we don’t save the plankton, all ocean species will beĀ  history. Both zooplankton (tiny animals) and phytoplankton (tiny plants) are at the base of the food chain. Not only ocean species, but life on earth including humans depend on phytolankton. We may be able to remove fish from our diet but we can’t breathe without oxygen. One half of our oxygen is produced by the oceans’ phytoplankton.

So why does phytoplankton require saving? It is threatened by the warming of the climate; decline has been correlated with warmer temperatures. The ocean absorbs much of our excess heat, which is good news and bad news.

It is conjectured that the reason that warmer temperatures are harmful to phytoplankton is that like all plants, they require nutrients. Nutrients are much more plentiful at great depths because as animals and plants die they sink. Places where a process called upwelling occurs, the mixing of ocean layers brings nutrients to the top layer where phytoplankton reside. However, since the heat is absorbed in the top layer making the layer lighter, the difference in density between the top layer and lower layes is too great to allow mixing and the phytoplankgon starve.

 

Fortunately, the decline is slow, but must be addressed before it’s too late. I’m ordering a custom-made T-shirt. In fact I ran out and had it made at my local maill as you can see.