I have been happily out of the loop for several years while enjoying my retirement. An article in the April Scientific American titled " The Perfect Beast" shook me from my "dogmatic slumber". The article dealt with mixotrophs, organisms which both photosynthesize and consume other organisms. I remember hearing about such critters decades ago and having them dismissed as one of nature's oddities. The article claims they are much more common and much more important than previously believed. It doesn't take much imagination to realize how this could disrupt our concept of the ocean's food web. If the author is right, mixotrophs are responsible for:
- Toxic algae blooms that are responsible for paralytic seafood poisoning. (Red Tide)
- Algae blooms that cause massive fish kills in Chesapeake Bay.
- The thick algae blooms which, while non-toxic, block light below. I remember diving in such a bloom on a bright August day in Barkley Sound. The bloom was so thick that it was virtually a night dive. Just diving through it creeped me out.
- Food production for fish.
- CO2 absorption in the ocean, hence global warming.
I encourage those interested to seek out the article.
Happy to be alive.