Yesterday we talked about bringing things back from the verge of extinction. Today the subject is just how much remains to be learned about life and death in the ocean depths.
The tragedy of the April,1912 wreck of the RMS Titanic is too well known to need much discussion here. However, scientists have been puzzled by a sonar signal close to the wreck. Now the answer is at hand.
According to ZME Science the sonar blip first noticed in 1998 is an underwater volcanic formation. It is teeming with life.
ZME Science said:
“Rather than some rusty metal parts or some other shipwreck, as some have suggested, the explorers found that the ‘puzzling large object’ is actually a volcanic formation that, at a depth of 2,900 meters (9,500 feet), is simply bristling with life. OceanGate, the company that funded and operated the expedition, has named the formation the Nargeolet-Fanning Ridge, a nod to the veteran explorer who first spotted the signal and to diver and mission specialist Oisín Fanning.
“We are astonished at the diversity and density of the sponges, bamboo corals, other cold-water corals, squat lobsters and fishes that are thriving at 2,900 meters deep in the North Atlantic Ocean,” said OceanGate Expeditions chief scientist Dr. Steve W. Ross.
It was, of course, believed for many years that the oceans were void of life below about 500 meters. Light can be detected to a depth of about 1,000 meters. Significant light is not detected below about 200 meters. Light was considered essential to life. However, the dawn of the deep submersible age radically changed our views. Beginning with the Bathyscaphe explorers finally reached the deep bottoms of the seas. Bathyscaphe Trieste eventually reached the bottom of the Marianas Trench, 35000 feet down.
Soon it was obvious that volcanic activity across the bottoms of the seas was giving rise to life thousands of feet deep. This once impossible concept raises questions about the origins of life and how it evolves.
Some even think life on Earth is extraterrestrial in origin. The concept of Panspermia raises the question of how life started in the oceans to begin with. Believers in Panspermia argue that life on Earth actually arrived from outer space. probably in a comet containing the elements of life.
Meanwhile, recent discoveries may show how little we know about the amount of life on Earth.
On the other hand there is this chilling oceanic reality:
According to the National Ocean Service (NOS) areas of low oxygen(hypoxia) are found in a number of areas in the world, including the Gulf of Mexico, Such low-oxygen zones either kill or drive off all ocean life creating “Dead Zones.”
“Hypoxic zones can occur naturally, ” NOS says” but scientists are concerned about the areas created or enhanced by human activity. There are many physical, chemical, and biological factors that combine to create dead zones, but nutrient pollution is the primary cause of those zones created by humans. Excess nutrients that run off land or are piped as wastewater into rivers and coasts can stimulate an overgrowth of algae, which then sinks and decomposes in the water. The decomposition process consumes oxygen and depletes the supply available to healthy marine life.”
It is always fascinating to study Earth’s wildlife.