With Every Breath You Take, Thank the Ocean
When was the last time you thought about your breathing? Take a breath right now and think about it. You breathe because you need oxygen, a gas which makes up 21 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. All that oxygen has to come from somewhere. You might already know that it comes from photosynthetic organisms like plants. But did you know that most of the oxygen you breathe comes from organisms in the ocean?
That’s right—more than half of the oxygen you breathe comes from marine photosynthesizers, like phytoplankton and seaweed. Both use carbon dioxide, water and energy from the sun to make food for themselves, releasing oxygen in the process.
Want to know who to thank? Up top, we have a picture of the giant kelp, a brown algae that grows along coasts in cooler regions around the world. The swirling blue image is of the ocean and was taken from a satellite in space. The light blue areas are where there are high concentrations of chlorophyll, the molecule used by phytoplankton to convert sunlight into energy. Lastly, this zoomed in image of a red algae shows its filamentous hairs, which are only a single cell width across, at 250x zoom. Pretty cool!