whales, krill, prochlorococcus & iron

Above is a picture of krill

Earth Day is over, here in Cannon Beach as was indicated in previous posts, it was the 12 Days of Earth Day. Looking over the list of those involved and the messages put forth the entire effort was commendable, I must say. We at Champions are most proud of the contributions we made as well as the response of those that stopped at our booth. Kirsten was most adept  at solicitating signatures on the various petitions that she circulated. In that respect a young men stepped forward to volunteer his skills in promoting this cause.  Enough excuses for avoiding the major tasks at hand. Today krill and the connection they make as an intermediate member of the food chain and iron supplier to baleen whales. Last night I read an article about the attempt to seed the ocean with iron in attempt to increase the krill population in the Pacific Ocean. In that attempt the researchers had successfully used iron to increase krill populations by some 12 times in laboratory conditions. When this was applied to a five mile square area in the ocean near the Galapagos Islands they had some success and did see a three fold increase but well below that which had been anticipated and far too expensive a project to continue. I raise this example as to why they would use one of the world ocean areas that has escaped the ravishing of mans intrusive ways. Too many times man has intervened in places best destined to be left alone and it was not, thankfully,  the apparent 200 miles seperation was enough to prevent damage to the Galapagos Islands. Recently I have attempted to gain an understanding relative to iron in the ocean and that the above project made no mention of was how this happens, not that I am any kind of expert. They left you thinking that phytoplanton captured the iron and they were consumed by zooplanton in this case krill. What really happens is that a bacteria/plant prokaryote known as Prochlorococcus is really the organism responsible for putting iron into the food chain. Previously I attempted to explain how Iodine became useable for living  creatures through Prochlorococcus as it fixed it organically which made it possible to be accumulated in seaweeds (see post Titanic Sails from Fukushima). Further both Prochlorococcus and seaweed release free iodine and methyl chloride which acts as a cloud seeder responsible for coastal fog and cloud formation.

It is totally amazing that Prochlorococcus, unknown less then 25 years ago, are such sophisticated cellular creatures, they make both Iron and Iodine available to the organic sea world. There are two apparent strains which operate at different depths exclusively, one in the upper 100 meters and the other in the lower 100 meters. To operate they need sunlight and specifically those of the blue range of the electromagnetic spectrum, how smart as this wave length has the least scattering and therefore is the most stable source of energy. Otherwise if another wavelength had evolved those rays would not have penetrated and be effective some 200 meters (600ft) under the ocean.

There you have it Prochlorococcus consumed by phytoplanton consumed by animals, zooplanton in this case krill consumed by baleen whales as well as a whole host of dependent fish and marine birds. Below we see a Antarctic penguin feeding its young the krill from the nearby Southern Ocean.

 The United States government based on action taken by NOAA and its National Marine Fisheries in 2009 banded the practice of harvesting krill from our coastal waters to a distance of 200 miles. However British Columbia to our north allows krill to be harvested, Norway is continuing to expand its fishery in of all places the Southern Ocean, and China is in the final phase of placing a heavy emphasis on krill fishing. Can we allow this practice to continue at the expense of exposing a huge number of food dependent fish, birds, and marine mammals certain decimation. Take action, tell Canadian Priminister, Steven Harper his nation must stop over fishing krill. 


Gentoo Penguin feeding its chick krill
A Penguin Feeding Her Chick Krill

2 thoughts on “whales, krill, prochlorococcus & iron

  1. Comment by Edward Johnson http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/05/22/1307701110.abstract This will bring me further enlightenment on the connection between cynobacteria & prochlorococcus. I stated in this blog of 2 years ago that that connection needed further explanation. In the short abstract what I did learn was that based on continued global warming their extrapolations show that not only will the areas of both the Pacific & Atlantic be expanded but the numbers of both species will expand. Prochlorococcus by 29% & cynobactria by 14%. The dynamics of these increases will be most interesting to watch as the yield of oxygen will obviously increase, along with iron being stabilized for utilization. I wonder as well about the increased role the increased iron & iodine availability will have on cloud seeding phenomena experienced in coastal zones particularly off coastal Oregon where I live.

  2. I just watched the following TED Production featuring Melissa Garren. She appears to be on the led edge of the research on prochlorococcus & this 12 min video shows some photos of these cynobacteria using equipment that I was certainly unaware. http://www.ted.com/talks/melissa_garren_the_sea_we_ve_hardly_seen.html
    I had hoped that she might touch on how iron is captured & synthesized for eventual availability for sea life such as for Krill. In 12 min. I am sure that was not possible Ed Johnson

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