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You may have known that corals are living animals but did you know that they have a partnership with algae living inside of them? Algae known as zooxanthellae (zo-zan- thel-ay) live in the coral’s tissue. The coral gives the algae protection and nutrients while the algae provide food and oxygen to the coral in return. When two living organisms help each other out like this we call it a symbiotic relationship.
Ocean phytoplankton produce at least half of the oxygen that we breathe. Though small in size they are able to produce as much oxygen as all of the land plants on earth combined. While trees and plants usually get all the credit for our oxygen, we actually should be thanking our marine plankton!
Did you know that cold water is denser than hot water? Cold water sinks down and warm water rises up. These properties cause many of the large scale ocean currents as cold water in higher latitudes sinks to the bottom of the ocean and then moves toward the equator.
So little is still understood about our deep oceans. One study recently discovered that the deep ocean had 898 species in an area about half the size of a tennis court. Over half of these species had never been identified before by scientists, and that’s not even including all the microscopic organisms that can be found.
Have you heard of coral bleaching? That is what happens when corals lose their green or brown colored algae living inside of them due to environmental stress such as warmer temperatures. If conditions return to normal fairly quickly, the algae will come back; but if conditions change for too long then the coral will be permanently bleached and won’t be able to survive.
Photo: van Hooidonk et al. 2016 The Paris Agreement, signed by 196 nations in 2016, signaled a turning point in the road to a low-carbon economy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Countries involved in this agreement aim to limit global temperature increases to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. This effort has important implications for the future of important but vulnerable ecosystems, including tropical coral reefs. In light of this international effort, scientists recently published a study using global climate models to generate projections of the future of coral reefs under the... (more)