It is understandable that the human psyche has trouble being mindful of what cannot easily be seen. However, when it comes to marine conservation, this “out of sight, out of mind” perception carries a particularly high cost.
The waters of the northeast Pacific are dark, making it very difficult to see into the depths. This means many people are inclined to believe that more life is found in tropical waters, where you can peer right down to the ocean bottom and see colourful fish swimming about.
However, the exact opposite is true.
It is plankton – the fuel of the food chain – that creates the dark, emerald waters of the northeast Pacific. The plant-like plankton, known as “phytoplankton”, need light, oxygen and nutrients to grow.
While our area does not have more light than the tropics, cold water dissolves more oxygen and nutrients are better circulated due to the current caused by large tidal exchanges.
In fact, here, we’re so fortunate to have the potential of maintaing the formula for the greatest abundance and diversity of marine life: cold, clean, high-current waters that are dark with a thick, rich soup of plankton.
What motivates me to descend into these cold waters with my camera, is to collect the photographic evidence of just how rich and colourful our marine neighbours are . . . bringing the life into sight and, very hopefully, creating mindfulness of the great need for marine conservation.
To learn more about zooplankton, see the fantastic BioMEDIA site. Shows images of zooplankton and the adult organism it will turn into.
This blog item was featured in the North Island Gazette “Our Coast” supplement.