SeaHarmony welcomes all ocean scientists, ocean educators, resource managers, artists, and ocean related organizations and community groups.
Satellites orbiting thousands of miles above the earth’s surface are used to monitor some of the tiniest organisms in the ocean. Phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that use the green pigment chlorophyll and the sun’s energy to produce food. NASA satellites can detect this green variation in the ocean’s color, which scientists use to estimate changes in the population of phytoplankton.
New research shows that global climate change will affect the distribution of phytoplankton. Under warmer conditions, phytoplankton are expected to migrate away from the tropics and shift towards the cooler polar waters, which means we will have less diversity of phytoplankton around the tropics, which could also reduce fish diversity, impacting millions of people that rely on this food resource.
Even though the oceans are vast and deep, food production for almost all of the life in the ocean occurs in only 1% of surface waters where phytoplankton can grow using the sun’s energy and nutrients from land. Our coastal waters serve as the productive farmlands for the rest of the ocean.
The air above the ocean is intricately connected to the ocean floor miles below. Carbon dioxide dissolves into the surface of the ocean from the atmosphere and phytoplankton use the carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. Other organisms at the surface eat the phytoplankton and when they die they sink down towards the sea floor. Creatures living in the deep sea depend on this falling matter for food.
Scientists in Canada got a surprise while doing studies on human forensics. To look at how bodies decompose, they tossed pig carcasses into so called "dead zones", areas of low oxygen in the ocean. However, much to their surprise, sharks, lobsters, and other scavengers risked going into these suffocating conditions and ate their experiment!
56 million years ago, the planet warmed due to greenhouse gas emissions from methane hydrates, permafrost thawing, and volcanism, during a period known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). This event, which occurred over several thousand years, raised global temperatures by 5-8°C and altered marine and terrestrial environments and climate. The PETM is the warmest period on earth since the extinction of dinosaurs approximately 66 million years ago. During the PETM, the poles were almost tropical and did not have ice. The oceans increased in temperature, became more acidic, and... (more)