Algae Loss Colors Ocean
The world’s oceans may be getting bluer, thanks to climate change. The effect is more likely to be detected by satellites than Earthbound people, and is caused by the depletion of marine phytoplankton as seawater warms. A new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published in the journal Nature Communications predicts that more than 50 percent of the oceans’ collective 140 million square miles of surface area will likely be affected by 2100. Marine ecologist and leader of the study Stephanie Dutkiewicz says, “These microscopic organisms live in the water and are the base of the marine food chain. If there are less of them in it, the water will be slightly bluer.” Phytoplankton serves as a food source for small sea creatures that are eaten by fish, squid and shellfish. If phytoplankton populations dip too low, vital fisheries in certain areas could be decimated.
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This article appears in the July 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings.