Did you know that Ireland’s coastline is roughly 1,448 kilometers long? (and believe us, it is very rough!).
Today we’ll be looking at the marvel that is the ocean, it’s nooks and crannies, and how you can help preserve it for future generations.
Although you may think Ireland is a tiny little island off the coast of mainland Europe, we are actually one of the largest European countries when you take into account the amount of seafloor that we have!
The Marine Institute is the state agency responsible for marine research in Ireland. They provide scientific guidance on Ireland’s 880,000 m2 of marine territory to inform policy, educate and contribute to the sustainable development of resources associated with the marine. The marine institute has developed a highly impressive map, detailing our ocean territory and it’s depths, click here to have a look at it!
Within this article we could discuss Ireland’s impressive whales, massive basking sharks, amazing seals, astonishing habitats or eccentric sea bird populations, although we won’t. Instead, we’ll be focusing on a group of organisms who make up a large source of the food and energy availability, who provide cover and oxygen!
Have you figured it out? Yes! It’s algae!
Fun algae facts
- Within the fossil record, algae can be found as far back as 3 billion years ago, the Precambrian era.
- Algae literally feed the masses. They use light from the sun and carbon dioxide to produce food and oxygen for many of the oceans creatures.
- We tend to think of the Amazon rain forest as the pinnacle of carbon sequestration (absorbtion) and oxygen production on Earth, but really it’s the oceans algae.
- Microalgae are a major source of plankton and are the important producers at the bottom of the ocean food chain!
- We humans depend on algae and seaweeds a lot! We use them as food, fertiliser, for medecins, animal feed and much more!
Generally speaking, the oceans algae can be decided into two main groupings, which both include a number of sub-groups, containing many many species. Microalgae are generally quite small (so small that they are measured in micrometers!) and include blue green algae, diatoms, and more! This group floats around as plankton, ready to be eaten! Macroalgae include seaweeds and are very visable along littoral zone of our coastlines and are generally larger than microalgae. They include seaweeds such as green, brown and red algae.
Sadly, just like almost everything else the ocean is suffering from the effects of mankind.
Climate change is causing adverse weather patterns, increasing ocean acidity (which is bad for everything with a shell), and increasing ocean temperatures. Human pollution from industry, household wastes, littering, agriculture, aquaculture, plantation forestry and peat harvesting are heavily impacting marine habitats and species every day. Remember, all drains lead to a stream, all streams lead to a river and all rivers eventually lead to the ocean.
How can you help preserve marine habitats and algae?
- Mind your carbon footprint, try to reduce the amount of carbon released as a result of your lifestyle. Less carbon in the atmosphere means less heating of the ocean.
- Buying safe sustainable sources of food.
- Use less single use plastics. Less plastics in circulation means less plastics potentially getting into the ocean.
- Organise a local beach clean up in your area.
- Be an ocean friendly pet owner, make sure your pets food is sustainably sourced too!
- Educate yourself about the ocean.
- Help family and friends see the importance of the sea.
Written by Luke Myers