Written by Kristen Kusek, Communications Director for USF CMS
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – Climate change and nutrient pollution are causing the ocean to lose oxygen in an underreported phenomenon that poses a serious threat to marine life. The IUCN recently released a report with one of its most sobering titles yet, Ocean’s deoxygenation: everyone’s problem.
USF CMS biological oceanography professor, Dr. Brad Seibel, coauthored the report’s eighth chapter covering deoxygenation in the mesopelagic zone—the mysterious twilight zone between about 200 to 1000 meters depth.
This is where the bristlemouth cyclothone, thought to be the most abundant vertebrate on the planet, roams along with so many other specially adapted fish and zooplankton that have evolved to live not only without much light, but within an extremely tight oxygen zone, said Seibel.
“These animals have evolved a tremendous ability to extract and use the small amount of oxygen available in their environment,” Seibel said. “Even the tiniest tweak to the available oxygen can significantly alter the community structure of species that live here, and that could spell trouble for the whole ocean.”