Monday, November 17, 2008

From Australia: A Link Between Salps and Climate Change?

On Block Island last August, the beaches were rimmed with sparkling lines of translucent salps -- tiny planktonic vertebrates -- in numbers that few people there had ever seen before. Now there's speculation out of Australia that salps "could be part of the planet's mechanism for combating global warming."

The jellyfish-like animals are known as salps and their main food is phytoplankton (marine algae) which absorbs the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the top level of the ocean. This in turn comes from the atmosphere. ...

By eating the algae, the salps turn the algae and their carbon dioxide into faeces which drops to the ocean floor. They also take carbon to the floor with them when they die after a life cycle as short as only a couple of weeks.

This is thought to be a natural form of carbon sequestration similar to what scientists are trying to do with carbon capture from emission sources such as power stations.

This story also offers an explanation about why they can be so numerous:

"They are interesting because they are the fastest reproducing multi-celled animal on the planet and can double their numbers several times a day."



Blogger Gina Federico said...

Well, it's nice that they are making a positive contribution to the environment, but they are still REVOLTING to swim in!

9:46 AM  

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