The world is awash in sea flowers and their many uses, but what about the sea water they’re swimming in?
In a new study, researchers from the University of Sydney and University College London found that they were not as influential as we thought.
The research was published in Nature Communications.
Dr Rohan Rajaratnam, lead author of the study from the Department of Biological Sciences, said: “The ocean is full of life, and that life is very diverse.
So there is so much variety and diversity in the oceans that we are not yet fully aware of the role that the ocean has played in the evolution of life.”
Dr Rajaratna and his team surveyed a sample of sea water from Australia, France, Italy, the US, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the UK, looking for a range of marine species, including coral, sea urchins, sharks and seabirds.
They found that all of the species in the sample had the same rate of growth in their shells, which they said meant they were all adapted to living in water with the same pH.
The team then measured the growth rates of the samples in relation to each other, which is where things got interesting.
The researchers found that seawater with a higher pH (a pH of 6.4) has a lower rate of marine growth, while seawater that had a higher concentration of CO 2 (a concentration of 280 parts per million) had a faster growth rate.
Dr Rajatna said that the researchers found these findings were in line with earlier studies that found the CO 2 in the ocean had the opposite effect to that of the CO2 released by human activities.
“It was shown that ocean CO 2 affects the growth of marine organisms, whereas in the atmosphere CO 2 is an important driver of greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
“So, the evidence from the marine life suggests that the CO² effect may be more important than CO2 effects on marine organisms.”
So, when you combine these different factors, the oceans have played an important role in shaping the life on our planet.
“If you’re going to look at life from this perspective, you would expect the ocean to be a major factor.” “
What we know now is that there are many marine organisms in the world, that have evolved to live in a very particular way, they can live at very particular temperatures, they have very specific needs,” he explained.
“If you’re going to look at life from this perspective, you would expect the ocean to be a major factor.”
He added that, as we now know, the CO₂ effect is an essential ingredient of all life, but that it was only recently that we realised this.
“When we started looking at marine organisms from this point of view, we were really surprised to find that CO⁂ is not just an important component of all marine life, it is also important for life on Earth,” he added.
Dr Ramanathan Srikanth, the lead author from the department of Biology, said that marine organisms were just one of many species in our oceans, and we should not be complacent.
“I think we’re all familiar with this idea that life on earth is a living organism,” he noted.
“There are other marine organisms like corals, jellyfish and crustaceans that we may not recognise at first, but are part of our marine environment, and the ocean provides them with all their nutrients.”
We need to look not only at how many species of animals we can see, but also at how they’re evolving in the environment.
“In the case of marine life we need to see what they are doing in the sea, because if we don’t, then we can’t know how to help them, because we may just end up eating them.”
Dr Srikant said that, while the oceans were the most important part of the Earth, we should also consider other forms of life on the planet.
“[They] play a vital role in the ecosystem and we need them to survive and reproduce, and to provide a certain amount of oxygen to other animals.”
It’s time we recognise that there’s a bigger picture, and look at the whole ecosystem and the role marine organisms play in it.””
We can’t rely on this natural world, we need artificial systems that mimic the natural environment, like coral reefs and marine ecosystems.”
It’s time we recognise that there’s a bigger picture, and look at the whole ecosystem and the role marine organisms play in it.