Jungles of the sea

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Most people think of trees creating oxygen for us to breath and tropical forests as being the major hot spots for biodiversity world-wide.  This just betrays our bias as terrestrial animals living on a planet that is mostly underwater.  Algae is in fact the most important producer of oxygen, creating 70-80% of it world wide (compare this with about 20% coming from rain forests).  Without oceans, there would be no algae, no oxygen, no life as we know it (besides a few very strange organisms).  Probably the most spectacular underwater ecosystem, coral reefs make up only .1% of the earth’s surface but are the most biodiverse per area of any marine ecosystem.  Both tropical rain forests and coral reefs (as well as the rest of the ocean) are increasingly being destroyed by human activity.  From collecting for the pet trade, to over fishing, to extraction of resources and global warming, we’re impacting these fragile environments.  In the rain forest, it’s fairly easy to see our impact but to visit a reef or even deeper, harder to reach marine environments takes training, equipment and bravery not everyone has.  If you ever get the chance, I encourage anyone reading this to visit a coral reef, snorkeling or even better, SCUBA diving.  These are worlds like no other and they’re disappearing even faster than the jungles.

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