Themes this week include climate change, and in particular how phytoplankton, some of the smallest plants on the planet, have a vital role in managing the Earth’s carbon dioxide budget. Otherwise, scientists are starting to evaluate how climate change will effect key organisms in the marine ecosystem, and results from these studies are beginning to come in. Fisheries are an important component of many maritime economies, and there are a few interesting papers in this area this week. Historic studies of fisheries are important for understanding how and why they develop, and what economic pressures can lead to collapse. Otherwise, husbandry is becomming important in the marine field, as demonstrated by the breeding of new ‘super prawns’ for the Australian market.
If climate control and resources are two positive things, it is less easy to find good things to say about pollution and the continuing oil spill. The importance of monitoring marine systems for organic mercury compounds is emphasised – while the marine ecosystem dilutes these compounds, the marine food chain concentrates them right back up again, and guess who is at the top of that food chain…
On the oil spill there is a very interesting blog post on how likely the spill was to occur – was it an event so unlikely that (as the US regulators agreed when they licensed the Deepwater Horizon) there was no likelihood of environmental damage? Beyond that, we look at some of the less visible casualties of the spill, and start to quantify just how much of the Gulf marine ecosystem has been wiped out.