Lurking on the ocean floor are teenie weenie organisms that tidy up the oceans of carbon dioxide.
Approximately 10% of carbon dioxide (CO2) that oceans release into the atmosphere is absorbed from underneath, thanks to the heroic effort of benthic bacteria. The research headed by Andrew Sweetman discovered that benthic bacteria are consuming huge amounts of CO2 and incorporating it into its biomass using an unknown procedure.
Sweetman said, “Their biomass then potentially becomes a food source for other animals in the deep sea, so actually what we’ve discovered is a potential alternative food source in the deepest parts of the ocean, where we thought there was none.”
According to the researchers, benthic bacteria can be the “most significant organisms” ingesting organic wastes that sink on the ocean floor. These are mostly decaying matter from dead sea creatures and excretion.
Benthic bacteria are abundant in aquatic places where sunlight can penetrate the waters and reach the shallow sediments. They use energy from sunlight to convert carbon into an organic matter by way of photosynthesis. These type of bacteria need phosphorus, nitrogen, and other trace elements aside from carbon dioxide. Large amounts of CO2 are consumed during photosynthesis and discharged as extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), or slime into the sediment.
EPS has a major task in gluing sediment fragments together which could further sediment steadiness to decrease resuspension of precipitated sediment. Moreover, EPS is swiftly metabolized by the bacterial community. Nourishments are distributed not only from the water but likewise from the sediments as it breaks down organic matter.
Sediment samples have been taken from the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean that lies between Hawaii and Mexico. It is called the Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ), which is a deep-sea ecosystem totally deprived of light. However, there is incandescence of bioluminescence and astonishing seabed of biodiversity. The bacteria that thrive in this depth “control the feeding” of organic waste in a day or two. When estimating their results, it tallies to around 200 million tons of CO2 that every year can be concentrated into biomass which makes it possible for the area to be a vital sanitation in the deep-sea carbon cycle.
The CCFZ houses more than a plethora of marine species like sea anemones, octopods, and shrimps including deep-sea sponges. The seabed which is mostly covered with the clay-like material is coated with trillions of polymetallic nodules the size of a potato. It contains sediments of cobalt, copper, manganese, nickel, zinc, and other minerals.
Even if there are organisms that take care of harmful elements, humans must play their part too. The oceans and other bodies of water are already polluted and nothing should be added anymore.
Climate change is worsening almost everything including persistent and frequent wildfires. Even the seabed is being scraped disrupting the sea creatures’ activities and food chain. Because of this, calcites that are composed of shells and marine skeletons, function as a barricade that neutralizes the carbonic acid from developing when CO2 seeps from the atmosphere to the sea.
What can you do on your part to lessen carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere or the bottom of the ocean?