Thursday, October 17, 2013

Frank the Pug was Right

Good things come in small packages. One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.  What's the running joke?  It's not the size of the boat, it's the...

And the black-faced pug, Frank, chides in Men in Black:  "When will you humans learn?  Just because something is important doesn't mean that it's not very small."

Darn pug was all too right.  Phytoplankton, which illuminate like beautiful, tiny jewels under a microscope, are the foundation of the ocean's food web.  They're incredibly important.

Their energy kick starts and travels all the way up the food web.  Slightly larger animals like krill, copepods, and immature versions of clams and fish, known as zooplankton, eat the exquisite gems.  Bigger creatures like herring and anchovy eat the zooplankton. 

Along comes tuna and cod to eat the herring and anchovy.  Next come the top predators like sharks that eat the tuna and cod.  If any of these links break, especially the first one, most marine life would not survive.

Which is lousy because scientists recently reported a dramatic and consistent decline in phytoplankton. 

Why is this happening?  All fingers point to the ill effects of burning fossil fuels to run our vehicles and power our lives.

What can we do about it?  Support clean energy and marine protected areas, and evoke Frank the pug when someone tries to deny the unprecedented impact humans are having on our big blue marble spinning through space.   

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