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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.
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.
Ocean acidification happens when increased carbon dioxide in the air dissolves into the ocean. The excess carbon dioxide lowers the pH of our oceans, making them more acidic. This becomes a threat for sensitive animals like corals and shellfish because it reduces their ability to build calcium carbonate skeletons.
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 Hōkūleʻa is a double hulled voyaging canoe built as a replica of the canoes that ancient Polynesians used to sail to Hawaiʻi. The Hōkūleʻa completed an amazing trip across the Pacific Ocean in 1976 without the use of modern instruments to and from Tahiti. Hōkūleʻa embarked on a trip around the world in June 2013 to share the importance of traditional knowledge, sustainability, and environmental conservation.
Photo: World Wildlife Fund Scientists from the World Wildlife Fund attached cameras to humpback whales in the Antarctic to gather information on where, when, and how the whales feed. These cameras were attached to the whales with suction cups and were accompanied by digital tracking tags. After 48 hours, the cameras detach from the whales and float to the surface. From the videos they collected, scientists are also able to learn more about the whales' social behavior and techniques used to clear ice to breathe at the surface. The purpose of this research is to locate priority feeding areas... (more)