Oceanic Segment V: Everything is Everywhere

I was going to do the Thermohaline Circulation System today. But I haven’t got it straight how to explain it easily (it is truly global in scale and multidisciplinary from physics to geography, so that is understandable!), so I thought I might try something different.
Something easier. Something totally badass!
So here it is: Everything is Everywhere.
The oceans are all linked by currents and water movement. All the water is kinda sloshing around, and all water does a circuit of the world from the poles to the tropics every hundred to thousand years. So with the age of the oceans (billions of years), statistically we can kinda expect all the water to have been to every place in the ocean at one time or another.
So the frozen water we engage with here off San Diego could tell us about the time 400000 years ago it visited the Mariana Trench with its family on a Christmas RV tour of the Western Pacific. Or when it saw the Amazon in flood before that. etc. Or what it was like to see whales migrate to the Southern Ocean back when there were whales. Or, more pressingly, what it was like to see schools of sharks as far as the eye could see off the Galapagos back before they were all butchered and drowned to make soup (one of the best and most timely documentaries I have ever seen http://www.sharkwater.com/).
So the water, it has been around a time or two.
That was pretty mind-blowing to me by itself!
But what is even more mind-blowing is that the water has been picking up, shuttling, and depositing microbes around with it the whole time!!
Microbes can be pretty tough and resilient in the face of changing conditions, and can eat a huge array of things usually. So their habitat, rather than being limited to say this or that valley or ‘mountaintops’ like we are used to on land, can be the WHOLE OCEAN! And the movement of water makes this possible!
So there is the possibility that all microbial species (‘everything’) inhabit everywhere in the ocean! Which means that the oceans have a resident microbe for every occasion, making them more robust than they might otherwise be in the face of pollution.
Nutrient imputs? We got Microbe N right here to transform it! Plastics everywhere? We got Microbe P right here to digest it! Oil spill? We got Microbe BP right here to munch it!
And they are all evolving and morphing and interbreeding and moving!
It is the ultimate melting pot of diversity and commingling.
So everything might be everywhere, it’s just that we can’t see it! 😦


~ by maoctopus on December 10, 2010.

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