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Eutrophication is when a large amount of nutrients enters the water and causes a sharp increase in the algae population, which then rapidly die off once these nutrients are used up, creating low-oxygen conditions. Eutrophication often happens in areas where fertilizer run-off from agriculture gets into the water. In extreme cases, it can kill off a large area of marine life from lack of oxygen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Photo: University of Kansas Evolution by natural selection is often described as “survival of the fittest”, but a new study suggests that some organisms may have a different evolutionary strategy for success: laziness. In the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers provide evidence that species with lower energy requirements may be less likely to go extinct. In the study, the researchers analyzed the metabolic rates of 299 species of bivalves and gastropods in the Western Atlantic, both extinct and extant. They found that during a 5-million-year period, high... (more)