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New Findings Demonstrate Diversity of Red Algae Blooms

blog_slug_algeIron-Thirsty Algae Thwart Counter-Global Warming Plans
Blooms of red algae, which typically occur in coastal waters, are associated with the poisoning of ocean water and the destruction of coastal ecosystems. A new study finds that blooms of this deadly organism can also flourish out in the open ocean and can wreak havoc if the ocean’s iron levels increase.

This finding, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is relevant to scientists because it poses a severe ecological side effect to proposed plans to combat global warming. The authors of the paper, which include several UC Santa Cruz professors, warn that fertilizing the ocean with iron to combat the pressures of global warming, could irrevocably damage the ecosystems of the world’s oceans and disrupt the global food chain.

The microcosms that flourish in high-iron environments are diatoms belonging to the genus Pseudo-nitschia. When these organisms reproduce rapidly and create a bloom, significant amounts of a neurotoxin they release, domoic acid enters the food chain and poisons fish, birds, and aquatic mammals.

The discovery that Pseudo-nitschia thrive in iron-rich waters poses a significant setback to talks in the scientific community about potentially fertilizing ocean waters with iron to promote the growth of other algae that absorb carbon dioxide. However, as coauthor of the report and director of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories Kenneth Cole commented in the UCSC press release for the findings, “this work definitely reveals a wrinkle in those plans” because of the algae’s potential to destroy the ocean’s ecosystems and subsequently diminish the terrestrial food chain.

Mary Silver, the lead author of the study and professor of ocean sciences at UCSC, conducted research on the algae throughout the Pacific Ocean and adds, “to do iron enrichment on a large scale could be dangerous because, if it causes blooms of Pseudo-nitschia, the toxin might get into the food chain, as it does in the coastal zone.”

Though he thinks nitrogen fertilization of the oceans would be dangerous and unwise, Cole believes that all people, scientists and citizens alike should continue to combat global warming. “In light of these findings, we should redouble our efforts to reduce carbon emissions, the primary culprit for ocean ecosystem damage worldwide,” he said.

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Three major celestial events occur this week. Wednesday, the Sun enters Leo, highlighting the heart center of everyone. Leo is a sign of deep sensitivity (along with Cancer). Wednesday is also the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, one of the most misunderstood women in the Bible. Saturday, July 25, Venus turns stationary retrograde at 0 Virgo (progressed Regulus, the Law, Hall of Records). Venus retrogrades for 44 days and nights, forming one petal of a five-pointed rosy star (pentagram) in the sky (five retrogrades over eight years = star). Venus retrograde turns values upside down. Our usual sense of beauty, values, the real price of things, relationships—all turn into a bundle of confusion. We don’t seem to know anything. Luxury goods are mispriced, values are jumbled, we wonder who that person is we’re in relationship with. We don’t know where our money is or where it’s gone. Venus, in daily life, represents values (resources, money, possessions and quality of relationships). Venus retrograde asks, “What do I value?” Venus retrograde puts us in touch with what has changed and what is truly of value in our lives. Venus retrogrades from 0 Virgo to 14 degrees Leo (July 25-Sept. 6). Leo is about the self and our creativity, which is how we come to know and value ourselves. We “know ourselves through what we create.” In Venus (values) retrograde (inner focus) we will ask, “What are values (not just money and finances)? What are my values? What do I create? How do I value my creations? Do I value myself?” Sunday, Uranus—planet of all things new, revelatory and revolutionary—also retrogrades (from 20 to 16 degrees Aries) until the full moon of Christmas Day. Five months of Uranus retrograde. In July and continuing on through the following months we have many planets retrograding. Things therefore slow down. Everyone’s focus becomes subjective, hidden by veils and curtains. A time when inner reserves of strength are available. A time of protection.

 

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