Friday, September 13, 2013

Southern Ocean Seabed



Fragile ecosystem

In the summer, water temperatures around the Antarctic Peninsula peak at around 0.5C. At about 2C, Antarctic scallops lose the ability to swim and at around 4-5C, clams lose the ability to burrow into the seabed.
Krill is considered a keystone species, an organism upon which many others in the region depend; but it is already under pressure. A study published last year showed krill numbers had fallen by 80% since the 1970s and experts linked the collapse to shrinking sea ice (the crustacean feeds on algae under the ice). See blog entry on KRILL.

Algae from seabeds consume or absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) as they grow, releasing (O2) for the rest of us to breath. Therefore, the importance of the health of the seabed and the health of algae at the bottom of the oceans cannot be over emphasized. Oh, did I mention that algae are the bottom of the food chain for all life on earth? 

Kill the algae by over saturating them with excessive amounts of poisons dumped into the oceans and atmosphere, and we have begun the end of the earth as we have known it, and likely the end of human existence  This is NOT a small matter to ignore, deny, shift, or mismanage. This is EVERYTHING.

There is a perception that the Antarctic and Southern Ocean are largely pristine and the threat from human activities has been removed, however this is not true! 

Today, the world’s last great wilderness and its wildlife are under threat as never before. In addition to very dramatic climatic warming which already appears to be having an impact on penguin populations, there is huge demand for Southern Ocean resources – with harvesting of fish stocks and krill, replacing sealing and whaling. 

The Antarctic and Southern Ocean are now more accessible than ever before. Antarctic tourism, research, and demand for fish are increasing both the risk of a major shipping disaster as well as the pressure on the resources. 

Non-native species, likely to have been brought over by humans, have already decimated breeding habitats on a number of sub-Antarctic islands. 

Most of the Southern Ocean outside of the narrow Antarctic continental shelf is more than 3000m deep. This poses a real challenge for scientists studying the assemblages of animals living on the seabed.

Dr Dave Bowden, a benthic ecologist at NIWA, explains how marine biologists are beginning to unveil the mysteries of this deep southern ocean, particularly the relatively unknown sector between New Zealand and the Ross Sea. New high resolution deep sea cameras have revealed amazing sights, including 'meadows' of a new species of stalked crinoid (relatives of sea stars) in habitats only previously seen in the fossil record.

CLIMATE CHANGE effects can be seen worldwide, and many experts believe it's only going to get worse as CO2 emissions continue to rise. Global warming to the degree we SEE IT is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases. 72% of the totally emitted greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide (CO2), 18% Methane and 9% Nitrous oxide (NOx). 

Carbon dioxide emissions therefore are the most important man-made cause of global temperature rise. CO2 is inevitably created by burning fuels like e.g. oil, natural gas, diesel, organic-diesel, petrol, organic-petrol, ethanol. That's the bad news. The good news is that researchers have found that algae is not only a great source of alternative of natural bio energy but it also has the ability to capture CO2. But it has its limits! It can only absorb SO MUCH. When the CO2 is in excess of what it can digest, we have a problem.


Antarctica's great Southern Ocean is the last pristine ocean wilderness left on Earth. This year leaders from 25 countries have an opportunity to create the world's largest marine sanctuaries around Antarctica. The proposals are in front of them, the science has been done, all they need to do is say YES. Tell our leaders to make the right decision when they meet this year and protect these waters for future generations.

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