We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Marine Life in the Deep
This reports on the recent deep sea exploration engaged in by James
Cameron. We get an excellent look see of the deep water column and
see ample life functioning well. There is ample food here for
something like a sea serpent and plenty of oxygen also in case you
Perhaps now the exploration of the deep can begin in earnest. It is
no longer challenging to make up hardware for the various depths and
the need to focus on specific depths for mapping purposes is pretty
clear here. It is easy to imagine a fleet of submersibles out
scouting and sampling.
What we also need is high resolution remote sensing strategies able
to spot life forms generally. Thi8s is pretty difficult when the
lifeforms maintain essentially the same density as the medium they
are traveling through.
Vibrant Mix of
Marine Life Found at Extreme Ocean Depths
The first scientific
examinations of data recorded during a record-setting expedition have
yielded new insights about the diversity of creatures that live and
thrive in the cold, dark, and highly pressurized habitats of the
world's deepest points and their vastly unexplored ecosystems.
Natalya Gallo of
Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego will present
preliminary findings from the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition, a project
led by James Cameron in collaboration with Scripps, and supported by
National Geographic and Rolex, on Feb. 22 (GS09: Community Ecology
Session, 8:45 a.m. PST) at the 2013 Aquatic Sciences Meeting of the
Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography in New
Gallo, a graduate
student with biological oceanographer Lisa Levin's group, analyzed 25
hours of video captured during Cameron's historic March 26, 2012,
solo dive 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) below the ocean surface to the
Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench, as well as
separate dives (also during the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition) to the
New Britain Trench and Ulithi, also in the Pacific Ocean.
The footage was taken from five cameras equipped on the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible that Cameron piloted to the Challenger Deep. Additional footage came from specialized "lander" deep ocean vehicles developed in collaboration with Scripps engineer Kevin Hardy that captured samples at various depths.
Early results of Gallo's analysis reveal a vibrant mix of organisms, different in each trench site. The Challenger Deep featured fields of giant single-cell amoebas called "xenophyophores," sea cucumbers, and enormous shrimp-like crustaceans called amphipods.
The New Britain
Trench featured hundreds of stunning stalked anemones growing on
pillow lavas at the bottom of the trench, as well as a shallower
seafloor community dominated by spoon worms, burrowing animals that
create a rosette around them by licking organic matter off the
surrounding sediment with a tongue-like proboscis. In contrast, Ulithi's seafloor ecosystem in the Pacific atolls featured high sponge and coral biodiversity.
As the submersible and
landers pushed into deeper waters, the variety of species
declined, with each depth dominated by a handful of key organisms. At shallow depths in the New Britain Trench, Gallo observed strange rotund but graceful animals called sea cucumbers swimming in the
Different species of
sea cucumbers were present even in the great depths of the Challenger
Deep but appear to have adapted to these depths by decreasing in
size, not swimming, and feeding by orienting themselves with the
The sea cucumbers
seen in the Challenger Deep at approximately 11 kilometers
(approximately 36,000 feet) likely represent a new species and are
the first recorded abundant population of the animals found in the
deepest part of the ocean.
Proximity to land also
played a role in the makeup of the deep-sea environment. Deep in the
New Britain Trench, located near Papua New Guinea, Gallo identified
palm fronds, leaves, sticks, and coconuts-terrestrial materials known
to influence seafloor ecosystems.
The Challenger Deep
and Ulithi, both more removed from terrestrial influence, were absent
of such evidence. Gallo also spotted a dive weight in the Challenger
Deep footage, likely used as ballast on another deep-submergence
"These data add
valued information to our limited understanding of deep-sea and
trench biology," said Gallo. "Only a small fraction of the
deep seafloor has been fully explored, so this expedition allows us
to better understand these unique deep-sea ecosystems."
Gallo and Ralph Pace,
a master's student in the Center for Marine Biodiversity and
Conservation at Scripps, are compiling an image reference collection
of all organisms identified during these dives to help expand the
scientific impact of the expedition.
about life in the deep sea becomes increasingly important as humans
ramp up their exploitation of the fish, energy, mineral, and genetic
resources of the deep sea," said Levin. "Natalya's
observation of a dive weight from a past expedition in the Challenger
Deep reminds us that our presence in the ocean is pervasive."
Gallo noted that her findings were largely consistent with discoveries made in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, the first "golden age" of deep-sea exploration. New high-definition video capabilities used during Deepsea Challenge expand exploration potential by allowing scientists to view organisms in their natural habitat and observe how these unique biological communities function, she said.
CHALLENGE expedition made possible the discovery of the deepest
examples of gigantism known thus far," said Doug Bartlett, a
Scripps marine microbiologist and chief scientist of the expedition.
"Among the many
values of collecting deep-sea samples is the possible isolation of
microbes adapted to the extreme conditions of life in the trenches.
These microbes inform us of the evolution, diversity, and adaptations
of life and perhaps even life's origins and its possible presence
elsewhere in the solar system."