Did you think that tree in your front yard was the only thing scrubbing the filthy, carbon-dioxide-choked air to provide you with oxygen? Well then, let BioPop and EarthSky.org learn you a little something.
As much as 85% of the world’s oxygen is produced by phytoplankton like the dinoflagellates in the Dino Pet! This not only puts glory-hogging trees to shame, but also reinforces the importance of keeping the world’s oceans healthy. When environments become polluted, vulnerable little organisms like phytoplankton are among the first to suffer.
“Scientists agree that there’s oxygen from ocean plants in every breath we take. Most of this oxygen comes from tiny ocean plants – called phytoplankton – that live near the water’s surface and drift with the currents. Like all plants, they photosynthesize – that is, they use sunlight and carbon dioxide to make food. A byproduct of photosynthesis is oxygen.
Scientists believe that phytoplankton contribute between 50 to 85 percent of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere. They aren’t sure because it’s a tough thing to calculate. In the lab, scientists can determine how much oxygen is produced by a single phytoplankton cell. The hard part is figuring out the total number of these microscopic plants throughout Earth’s oceans. Phytoplankton wax and wane with the seasons. Phytoplankton blooms happen in spring when there’s more available light and nutrients…”
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