Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hidden sponges determine coral reef's nutrient cycle?

No it is not about Tampax. "Marine organisms hidden in caves, such as sponges, play an extremely important role in the nutrient cycle of coral reefs. Indeed they probably play the most important role of all, says Dutch biologist Sander Scheffers. And that is valuable information for nature conservationists who want to preserve the coral reefs." This information was published in a doctoral thesis this September which I am sure presents high quality research. I did not get to read the thesis yet, but was puzzled by this news release of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. The research was carried on the Caribbean island of CuraƧao, probably because there are no outstanding ecological issues around Dutch flatlands. (Wait, the island IS Dutch and is in the Netherland's Antilles off the coast of Venezuela. Together with Aruba which has separated itself from the Netherlands Antilles, they form part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands). Reading further: "The films shot revealed that sponges were the most important inhabitants,  followed by animals such as tube worms, tunicates and bivalves. Together they fill more than 60 percent of the cavities ... [skipped] ... According to Scheffers, these hidden organisms play a key role in the marine nutrient cycle due to their incredible capacity to convert enormous quantities of organic plankton into inorganic material." Now this is groundbreaking (is this not what corals and pretty much any other marine animals do?).

It could be my black bile, or the cold weather OUTSIDE of Antilles. Rather, it's the dumbed-down style of the newsflash.      


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