The underwater forest are little-known ecosystems that extend into the depths of the ocean and its large concentrations of algae are home to a large number of Marine species. According to recent research, they are even larger than the tropical forest of the Amazon in Brazil.
New research published in the middle The Conversationsupported by the University of Western Australia (U.W.A.for its acronym in English), reveals that these ecosystems, such as the Great African Marine Forest and the Great Reef of South Australia they are larger than previously thought, with an area twice the size of India.
What are the hidden forests in the depths of the ocean?
The underwater forestalso known as ocean Forests, They are ecosystems made up of algae that grow by capturing the sun’s energy and carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. The largest species grow 35 meters tall, forming forest canopies that sway in an endless dance as the waves roll in.
These seaweed offer habitat, food, and shelter to a wide variety of marine organisms. Large species, such as sea bamboo and giant kelp, have gas-filled structures that function like little balloons and help them create large floating canopies.
How big are oceanic forests?
The authors of the research point out that seaweeds are among the fastest growing plants on the planet, although it has always been difficult to estimate how large an area their algae cover. forests and now it has been discovered that they cover between 6 and 7.2 million square kilometers, that is, more than the Amazon.
- According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Amazon forest it has a length of 6.7 million square kilometers.
In accordance with Albert Pessarrodona Silvestrepostdoctoral researcher at the U.W.A.“unlike land where forest productivity peaks in the tropical forestsproductivity in the sea peaked around temperate regions, which are generally washed by cold, nutrient-rich waters.”
How were the results on ecosystems at the bottom of the ocean obtained?
Due to the difficulty of measuring the growth of seaweed Using satellites, researchers at the U.W.A. they collected data from hundreds of studies and sites around the world where divers have measured productivity. In this sense, the images of the photographer Helen Walne were essential to the study.
“Finding out exactly how much these hidden forests around the world are growing was not an easy task (…) On land, we can use satellites to measure tree growth, but things are much more complicated underwater, since most of the satellites cannot make measurements deep into kelp forests.”
Albert Pessarrodona, UWA
How productive are these ecosystems?
Thanks to the records of the divers both in Africa like in Australia, oceanic forests were found to be even more productive than many intensively cultivated crops, such as wheat, rice, and maize. This information could help create farms seaweed to complement food production and promote sustainable development.
Productivity was higher in oceanic forests from temperate regions, which generally bathe in cold, nutrient-rich water. Each year, on average, oceanic forests in these regions produce two to 11 times more biomass per area than these crops.
‘These are tough times for ocean forests,’ experts say
Almost all of the extra heat trapped by the 2,400 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases we’ve emitted so far has gone into our oceans. This means that the forests at the bottom of ocean They face very difficult conditions.
large expanses of underwater forests have recently disappeared from Western Australia, eastern Canada and California, resulting in habitat loss and carbon sequestration potential. As sea ice melts and water temperatures warm, some arctic regions experience an expansion of oceanic forests.