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How Much Life Do We Know Even Exists In The Ocean?
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Each week on TestTubePlus, we pick one topic and cover it from multiple angles. This week, we're delving deep into everything you've ever wondered or been curious about in regards to the Ocean. So far, Trace has explained why its so hard to track how much life is in the world's oceans, how scientists are just now mapping the ocean floor, why the ocean is responsible for human life, and where the Earth's oceans came from. In today's final episode, he explores how much damage humans have done to the world's oceans, and whether or not this damage is reversible.
By analyzing boron embedded in limestone from the Permian and Triassic periods, researchers discovered an abrupt shift in ocean pH levels at the end of the Permian period nearly 251 million years ago which lead to what's been called the "Great Dying", when nearly 90 percent of ocean life died. Modern ocean have increased by about 30 percent over the last 200 years since the industrial revolution, driven mainly by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere dissolving into the ocean.
According to research by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), this increase in acidity, plus over-fishing have decreased the amount of fish in the world's oceans by nearly half of what they were in 1970. Populations of some commercial fish stocks, like tuna, mackerel and bonito, have fallen by almost 75 percent. As much as 80 percent of ocean pollution comes from the land in the form of things like toxic agricultural fertilizers and pesticides running off into the ocean.
Solid waste like bags, foam, and other non-degradable items dumped into the oceans from land or by ships at sea are frequently consumed by marine mammals, fish, and birds that mistake it for food and introduced into the global food chain. There are swirling patches of garbage in the oceans, like the Pacific Trash Vortex, which is estimated to be the size of Texas. All of these factors are causing a significant increase in ocean temperatures. Even a one or two degree increase in temperature can have major consequences to all life on Earth -- whether it lives on land or sea. As Trace discussed in an earlier episode of this series, human life is reliant on the oceans for a number of reasons, but have we pushed them past the point of no return?
TestTube Plus is built for enthusiastic science fans seeking out comprehensive conversations on the geeky topics they love. Each week, host Trace Dominguez probes deep to unearth the details, latest developments, and opinions on big topics like porn, exercise, stereotypes, fear, survival, dreams, space travel, and many more.
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Marine Pollution (National Geographic)
"The oceans are so vast and deep that until fairly recently, it was widely assumed that no matter how much trash and chemicals humans dumped into them, the effects would be negligible. Proponents of dumping in the oceans even had a catchphrase: "The solution to pollution is dilution.","
Why Do We Look For Water When Searching For Life (io9)
"... Given the chemical possibilities available from the most abundant elements in the universe, even an alien scientist with a different biochemistry would probably agree that a water-solvent-based biochemistry is quite likely to occur elsewhere in the universe."
How do we use marine resources? (Hermoine.net)
"Fisheries: For food - fish, such as orange roughy, blue ling, grenadier and redfish, and shellfish (e.g., oysters, mussels, crabs and lobsters) are in high demand by communities all over the world. Oil: Fuel, plastics, man-made fibres, chemicals (e.g., pain-killers), rubber, fertilsers...the list is endless! Gas:Central heating, cooking, plastic and chemical production (e.g. antifreeze!), food-processing, some transportation."
Big data maps world's ocean floor (University of Sydney)
"It is the first time the composition of the seafloor, covering 70 percent of the Earth's surface, has been mapped in 40 years; the most recent map was hand drawn in the 1970s."
Ocean (Encyclopedia of Earth)
"Oceans cover approximately 65.7% or 335 million square kilometers (129 million square miles) of Earth's surface with a volume of about 1,370 million cubic kilometers (329 million cubic miles). The average depth of these extensive bodies of seawater is about 3.8 kilometers (2.4 miles). Maximum depths can exceed 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) in a number of areas known as ocean trenches."
Why Are Oceans Salty? (Live Science)
"Ocean water contains lots of different mineral salts: sodium, chloride, sulfate, magnesium, calcium, potassium, bicarbonate and bromide. These salts enter the ocean through rivers, which pass over rocks and soil, picking up salt along the way."