indian ocean pasture collapse

Ocean Pastures Of Indian Ocean Disappearing Rapidly

Terrible new science documenting the collapse of phyto-plankton in the Indian Ocean, rate of loss is 2% per year!

A rapid loss of phytoplankton, the grass of ocean pastures, threatens to turn the western Indian Ocean into a clear blue “ecological desert,” a new study warns. Ocean pasture decline “surely” correlates to 50%-90% tuna fishery decline.

As if we need anymore doomsday reports, but if you read to the end you’ll be rewarded with some good news about what we are doing to save the oceans.

The research reveals that phytoplankton stocks in the region fell an alarming 30 percent over just the last 16 years. This most recent tally of the collapse of this vital ocean pasture ecosystem compounds the observed collapse that has been documented since the early 1950’s!

The collapse of ocean pasture ecosystems is taking place in all of the world’s ocean, not just in the Indian Ocean. Indeed many of those ocean basins are in a much worse condition of pasture collapse than the Indian Ocean. About 15 years ago another report ranked the ocean pasture catastrophe according to this score card. At the time as one can see the Indian Ocean was better off than any of the World’s Seven Seas!


Ranking of Annual Primary Productivity of the World’s Seven Seas as of about 15 years ago! According to this new paper the Indian Ocean has collapsed in the intervening time to the levels that you see above for the South Pacific and North Pacific. Imagine what condition the oceans other than the Indian Ocean are today!

A decline in ocean mixing due to warming surface waters is partially to blame for that phytoplankton plummet, these researchers propose online January 19 in Geophysical Research Letters. The mixing of the ocean’s layers ferries phytoplankton vital nutrients from the ocean’s deep dark depths up into the sunlit layers near the surface that the mini plants inhabit.

The loss of the ocean pasture phytoplankton, which form the foundation of the ocean food web, undermines the region’s ecosystem, warns study coauthor Raghu Murtugudde, an oceanographer at the University of Maryland in College Park.

“If you reduce the bottom of the food chain, it’s going to cascade,” Murtugudde says in describing the collapse of the Indian Ocean pastures. The phytoplankton and pasture collapse is surely partially responsible for a 50 to 90 percent decline in tuna catch rates over the last half-century in the Indian Ocean.  He goes on to say, “This is a wake-up call to look if similar things are happening elsewhere.” Here’s a some links to that very evidence of this happening elsewhere… Great Whales DyingSquidSeabirdsSea lionsJack Mackerel

150 years ago English writer Walt Whitman wrote about the vital role of pastures when he said, “All Beef Is Grass”

Today he would most certainly add, “All Fish Is Plankton”

Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune, Murtugudde and colleagues tracked the amount of green phytoplankton filling ocean pastures from space. Analyzing satellite images of ocean color collected over the last 16 years, the researchers found a 30 percent drop in the abundance of green-tinted plankton per cubic meter of water. When the sea surface is filled with phytoplankton, the water takes on a lighter, greener tinge. As the phytoplankton dies off, the water becomes more clear and bluer.


An ocean science water collection array being lowered into the clearest water on earth in the SE Pacific 2007 – the horror! click to read more…

Clear ocean water allows light to pass into the abyss and this makes the ocean appear darker. A few years ago a group of scientists reported excitedly in press releases that they had discovered the “clearest water on earth,” clearer than the water found in lakes on the Antarctic continent that were buried beneath miles of ice sheets millions of years ago.

That “clearest water on earth” was found in the S.E. Pacific as an ocean research ship travelled between Tahiti in French Polynesia and Chile! It is no wonder that the fishing fleets of South America have seen their catches of fish collapse over the past several decades.

The crisis of ocean pasture collapse while being correlated with climate change is in fact caused more so by the multiple impacts our CO2 has on the ocean pasture nutrient cycle.

Strike 1 – The most dramatic role our present day high and rising levels of CO2 has on this Blue Planet is that it produces “Global Greening.” Plants on land are helped to grow more with the additional CO2 in the air but that isn’t a “good thing” as far as the oceans are concerned.

Think of it this way, “More grass growing, means less dust blowing!”

Global Greening (click to enlarge)

Global Greening – click to read more

It is dust that blows off of lands that provides vital mineral micronutrients without which ocean pastures die. The oceans have been suffering a terrible 50+ year drought of dust and in turn their pastures have been collapsing no less so than our pastures on land turn into deserts when there is a severe drought of rain that lasts for years or worse, decades.

Strike 2 – Add to this terrible drought of dust the oceans are suffering the new work by authors of this paper showing that what nutrients the ocean does have are being locked deep in its waters far below the productive surface pasture territory by thermal layering of ocean waters and you see the double whammy hit ocean life.

Strike 3 – The last blow our CO2 is inflicting on the oceans is the direct chemical conversion of our CO2 into ocean acidification. You might remember your high school chemistry – H2O + CO2 = H2CO3 (that’s carbonic acid) and our CO2 in the air is going to mix with ocean water to make that acid.

Take note that humanity is already responsible for already loading the atmosphere with nearly a trillion tonnes of noxious ocean killing CO2 in all of our emissions from all of our yesterdays. That “yesterday’s CO2” is likely a near lethal dose for most of ocean life unless an antidote is provided as it will take hundreds of years for Nature to repurpose our CO2 into a harmless form without our help. This is saying nothing of our continued increasing emissions of the second lethal dose of CO2 that we will emit in all of our tomorrows.

First things first, if we do not save the patient from the first lethal dose of poison it will be meaningless to train humanity to not administer a second lethal dose of CO2… OK OK we surely must do everything possible to stop the second lethal dose of CO2, presuming we can save the patient, Mother Ocean, from the first deadly dose now clearly proven by this paper to be so deadly.

Here’s The Good News!

There is a practical, proven, natural, safe, sustainable means developed over 25 years of ocean science at a cost of a quarter of a billion dollars in global scientific R&D that will save the oceans, its fish and wildlife, and us! Very soon a fleet of ocean pasture restoration ships will set sail to save the seven seas and their ocean pastures! In the bargain revived ocean pastures will repurpose billions of tonnes of our dangerous CO2 into new ocean life provided by healthy flourishing nourishing ocean pastures.

Immediately restored ocean pastures will create and sustain ocean fish populations returning them to historic high and sustainable levels in turn feeding most of ocean life and us. Billions of additional fish will swim into our nets every year within just 2-3 years helping in a decisive manner to end world hunger. All this at a cost of mere millions of dollars each year, one millionth of the trillions the world has just agreed to spend via the new Paris Climate Change Accord.  Ocean pasture restoration begins now not a decade and more from now and …IT JUST WORKS!

sitka news salmon story

My 2012 ocean pasture replenishment and restoration work in the NE Pacific returned the ocean to life as seen in the largest catch of salmon in all of history in Alaska the next year. click to read more…