The Census of Marine Life, a network of researchers in 80 countries spanning 10 years, released preliminary results this week, although final results are not due until October 2010. Results announced included a recorded 5,722 species living in the extreme ocean depths, waters deeper than 3,280 feet. Of those deep ocean dwellers, scientists documented 17,650 species living below 656 feet, the point where sunlight ceases. Researchers have found approximately 5,600 new marine species in addition to the previously 230,000 known species. Several thousand more species could be added before the final results are released.
Posted tagged ‘oceans’
A recent study finds that plastic, generally thought as almost indestructible, breaks down rapidly in the ocean. But, this is actually very bad. Once thought to take high temperatures and possibly hundreds of years to break down, the study found that plastic breaks down at much lower temperatures and within a year of entering the ocean. Unfortunately this causes a host of toxic chemical, including bisphenol A, to be released into the ocean. For more information, see National Geographic News.
A study by Jeremy Mathis, a chemical oceanographer at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, suggests that colder Alaskan waters are absorbing greenhouse gases faster than tropical waters, turning those colder water more acidic. Oceans absorb carbon dioxide, approximately 22 million tons per day. When that carbon dioxide is dissolved in the ocean, it forms carbonic acid. According to studies, increased levels of acid have been known to increase stress hormones and slow metabolisms in certain species of ocean life. For more information on this study & its impact on Alaska, see RedOrbit.
An update on a study from two years ago that warned of a collapse in the world’s seafood by 2048 was recently published in Science. The author of the original study, working with 20 other researchers, offers insights into improvements to reduce overfishing in the last two years. The study focused on 10 areas and significant overfishing does continue in three of the 10 areas. But steps have been taken to reduce overfishing in five of the areas. The remaining two areas were not significantly overfished in either study. But, one of the authors of the new study points out that 63% of fish stocks remain below desired levels and time will be necessary to rebuild those stocks. For more information on this study, see the National Science Foundation.
A recent study suggests that zooplankton, organisms that include krill and jellyfish, are capable of stirring ocean waters just like winds or tides. The idea behind this research is actually an old one. It is the idea that a body moving through a fluid tends to drag some of that fluid with it as it moves. This means that even a tiny organism could have a significant impact on a large body of water such as the ocean. This could mean that the impact of sea life should be calculated into climate computer models. While the authors of the study are confident of this theory, many find it controversial. For more information on the study and its critics, see National Geographic News.
Have Fun Under the Sea with Google
The latest version of Google Earth does much more than simply let you peek over your neighbor’s fence via satellite. Now you can explore the ocean. You’ll be able to explore wildlife, shipwrecks and the ocean bed. Over 80 organizations, including the National Geographic Society, helped with the information for Google’s mapping. You can download Google Earth 5.0 here and start exploring.