Last-minute boom in plankton swarm spawned by El Nino

An estimated one billion tons of plankton formed the largest ever gathering of underwater life off the Australian coast, which biologists believe was spawned from events swirling in the oceans around El Nino, along…

Last-minute boom in plankton swarm spawned by El Nino

An estimated one billion tons of plankton formed the largest ever gathering of underwater life off the Australian coast, which biologists believe was spawned from events swirling in the oceans around El Nino, along with a remarkable burst of carbon dioxide.

“It’s incredible,” Fiona Gibbins of the University of Melbourne told the BBC. “It’s showing how extraordinarily good our ecosystem is in the absence of a full-blown El Nino year.”

According to BBC, the surge created a beautiful ocean blue sky, called “leaky blues” in the scientific literature.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the algae blooms produced a new surge of plankton later in the week.

Thousands of square miles of sea “are now teeming with life, similar to what would be on a much more abundant tropical reef,” Adam Yates, a researcher at James Cook University in Australia, told the Herald.

Pod balls of plankton rising off the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. bobby takey / iStockphoto

According to National Geographic, the surge is bringing plankton to the surface where they can be eaten, or eat themselves.

“It might seem surprising, but when El Niño and other atmospheric conditions affect what’s taking place in the ocean,” Australian scientists told the Guardian, “it makes sense that the array of diverse life in the oceans would then change, too. This can occur when levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reach critical levels.”

It’s been predicted that carbon dioxide levels will increase at least two or three times more quickly than they have in the past 11,000 years.

Click here for more from the BBC.

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