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Bonaire Scuba ECS | The Big and the Small

March 03, 2020

Leo. G. '20 examining brine shrimp eggs under a microscope.

During the first two days of our ECS, we basically did two things: Figuring out how Earth came to be the way it is right now and putting “salty shrimp” (AKA brine shrimp) into salty water. So firstly, the Earth. It wasn’t much of a shock to hear that human history took place in only a fairly small part of the Earth’s 4.6 billion years of life, but it still brought the feeling of being “small” to my mind. Intelligent creatures like us have only existed for so long. Before that, were billions of years of lifes’ struggle to continue its existence. Life evolved from a single cell around 1 billion years after Earth formed, to the complexity and diversity of living things we have today. We can thank our ancestors from the past that survived the multiple extinctions that nearly ended life altogether. We also have to thank the photosynthetic organisms that created the oxygen-rich environment in which we currently live. All these “coincidences” allowed us to be here today.

Secondly, the brine shrimp. There seems to be very little connection between the Earth with a radius of nearly 4,000 miles, and the brine shrimp that barely makes up 1/10 of an inch. However, I personally believed that the brine shrimps reveal much about our future. We put brine shrimp eggs in containers containing different amounts of salt. It turned out that nearly all shrimp eggs failed to hatch at more than 80 ppt (parts per thousand) of salt in the water. As salty as their natural environment is, they fail to hatch if it’s just another 2 grams of salt in the 50 grams of water. We know that coral reefs, which we will observe, are also fragile creatures: They die when it’s too hot, too cold, too much pollution, too much fishing, or too much touching, but how fragile is human life? Will we sustain an apocalypse or another extinction? Humans are resilient creatures, but until the day when we can travel in between galaxies, Earth is still our only home. But Earth doesn’t care a single bit if all humans go extinct: It was a hot poisonous furnace when it formed. We must care for our own future.

Leo. G. '20 examining brine shrimp eggs under a microscope.