(Marine Science) 바다의 신비 살피기

  조회:  8,261   등록 일자: January 13   카테고리: 
By WILLIAM J. BROAD ⓒ 2009 New York Times News Service In 1953, when Sylvia A. Earle began studying algae, the marine plants and related microbes were often considered weeds or worse. Boaters ridiculed them as scum that turned patches of sea into pea soup. 1953년에 실비아 A. 얼(Sylvai A. Earle)이 해조를 연구하기 시작했을 때에는 해양 식물들과 유관 미생물들은 흔히 잡초 또는 그 이하의 것으로 취급되었었다. 뱃놀이를 하는 사람들은 해면의 어느 부분들을 콩 수프처럼 만드는 못된 찌꺼기로 보고 그것을 비웃었다. Today, Dr. Earle notes that just one type — Prochlorococcus, so small that millions can fit in a drop of water — has achieved fame as perhaps the most abundant photosynthetic organism on the planet. It daily releases countless tons of oxygen into the atmosphere. 오늘날 얼 박사는 해조 중의 단 한 가지 타입(type) – 즉, 너무 작아서 물 한 방울 안에 수백만 개가 들어 갈 수 있는 프로클로로코커스(Prochlorococcus) – 은 아마 지구상에서 가장 풍부한 광합성 유기체라고 해서 명성을 얻은 상태이다. 그것은 날마다 어마어마한 톤수의 산소를 대기로 방출한다. The tiny organism is estimated to provide the oxygen in “one in every five breaths we take,” Dr. Earle said in an interview. And it is just one of thousands of types of marine algae and photosynthetic microbes — everything from invisible cells to plantlike growths to kelp forests. 이 미소한 유기물은 “우리 인간들이 호흡하면서 들이키는 산소의 5 분의 1을” 공급하고 있는 것으로 추산되고 있다고 얼 박사는 인터뷰에서 말했다. 그것은 수 천 가지 유형의 해조와 광합성 미생물들 – 육안으로 보이지 않는 세포들에서 식물 같은 생물들 그리고 켈프(kelp: 다시마 따위의 갈조) 숲에 이르는 - 중에서 단 한 가지에 지나지 않는다. A student of the big and the small, Dr. Earle is a co-author of “Ocean: An Illustrated Atlas,” published recently by National Geographic. Its maps and graphs, prose and pictures detail how discoveries like the surprising ubiquity of Prochlorococcus are illuminating the sea, its immense impact on the planet and its habitability. Dr. Earle, an oceanographer and former chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has participated in more than a half-century of ocean exploration and protection. She has done pioneering research on algae, probed the ecology of coral reefs, set records for deep diving, tracked marine mammals and lobbied for the creation of marine sanctuaries. She had a hand in President Bush’s designation last week of vast parts of the American-controlled Pacific Ocean as marine monuments. The new protected areas — including the ocean’s deepest spot, down nearly seven miles — are bigger than California. Dr. Earle’s passion extends to the far horizon. In the atlas, she reports that some 90 percent of deep-sea creatures use bioluminescence in their life strategies and that the eerie glows may turn out to constitute the planet’s most common form of communication. “So many things have been discovered,” she mused. “But then you turn around and — there’s another breakthrough. We’ll probably have to update the atlas in five years.” Her knowledge makes her well qualified to reflect on what is still unknown, as she does repeatedly in the atlas. For instance, she describes how sunlight filters through seawater to surprising depths (its blue component penetrating to at least 250 meters, or 820 feet) but notes that scientists have yet to determine the maximum depth at which sea life can engage in photosynthesis. One algae, she notes, thrives more than 650 feet down — far deeper than scuba divers go. “What’s astonishing to me is how fast the insights are coming,” she said in the interview. “It’s the greatest era of planetary exploration in all of human history. And we’ve tried to cram it between two covers.” She and her atlas have many fans. “There’s no one else like Sylvia,” said Marcia K. McNutt, director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California. “She’s one of these rare combinations of energy, passion and eloquence.” (ⓒ 2009 The New York Times) (ⓒ 2009 usabriefing.net)
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