Sunday, October 10, 2010

New Findings in the Ocean Depths

Sea Cucumber
By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

In this age of information we tend to presume (even though common sense belies it) that mankind has already learned it all. We presume that what we personally don’t know, someone else does, and the information is stored in some library somewhere in the world or on some website. Not.

In fact it is only now that the first Census of Marine Life was made in this world. It took place over the past 10 years and just got finished now. It involved some 2,700 scientists, 670 institutions, 540 underwater expeditions, and 9,000 days at sea, an AFP article said.

The cost was $650 million dollars and—wait for it--there are more than one million species in the ocean, from microbes to whales, and we only know one-quarter of them. Ninety percent of marine life is microbial.

We have—wait for it—16,764 known species of fish and some 5,000 more to discover. Some of the species were presumed to have been extinct for 50 million years. We also need to get to know some 750,000 more fish species and to figure out what their ecological job is.

Sea Whip
The ocean has borne the consequence of global warming. Some 40 percent of plankton has disappeared with the rise in ocean temperatures. And in 99 percent of areas that they used to inhabit, sharks have disappeared.

It’s like a whole different planet down there. And—wait for it--some 6,000 new species were discovered, while some species that what were presumed to be rare are actually common. There were a lot of changes of species documented, too. (Creationists, evolutionists, extrapolate what you will from this but please don’t kill the messenger).

The reason the census was taken was so there could be a baseline against which the next census that will be taken further down the road can compare changes in the ocean.

Sand Fleas Alaska
The ocean, like land, has marine highways, areas of rest, and vibrant neighborhoods and communities in extreme locations from the tropics to the ice poles to the deepest, darkest depths. Wait for it. We get half our oxygen from the deep and a lot of our food comes from down there.

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