Our empty oceans: Scots team’s research finds Atlantic plankton all but wiped out in catastrophic loss of life

The Goes report concludes: “If we destroy plankton, the planet will become more humid, accelerate climate change, and with no clouds it will also become arid and wind velocities will be extreme.

“Yes, of course, we need to continue to reduce CO2 emissions but even if we were carbon-neutral, it will not stop ocean acidification – it will not stop the loss of all the seals, whales, marine birds, fish and food supply for two billion people.

“CO2 reduction won’t even stop climate change; indeed, we will have catastrophic climate change because we have not fixed the primary root cause – the destruction of nature by toxic chemicals and substances such as plastic.

“We have two choices. We can choose to wake up, understand and address the real issue or choose the game-over button for humanity come 2050.”

From his ongoing mission in Colombia, Dryden – who addressed the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow last year – told The Sunday Post: “Based on our observations, plankton numbers have already crashed and are now at the levels that I predicted would not happen for another quarter of a century.

“Given that plankton is the life-support system for the planet and humanity cannot survive without it, the result is disturbing. It will be gone in around 25 years. Our results confirmed a 90% reduction in primary productivity in the Atlantic. Effectively, the Atlantic Ocean is now pretty much dead.

“We surveyed the Caribbean from St Lucia to Grenada. Now the only fish available in restaurants there is imported farmed Atlantic salmon.

“It had been reported that 50% of the coral was gone; our observations were that the coral is 100% gone in many locations and 90% gone in all locations.”

A humpback whale dives in the Atlantic Ocean off Iceland (Pic: Shutterstock / Rui Duarte)


1 comment on Our empty oceans: Scots team’s research finds Atlantic plankton all but wiped out in catastrophic loss of life

  1. For a different perspective:


    Beware of bad science reporting: No, we haven’t killed 90% of all plankton [Updated]
    A very misleading article on marine life has been getting a lot of attention.
    JONATHAN M. GITLIN – 7/21/2022, 7:06 AM

    Original Story 11:04 pm EST, 7/19: For the past few days, it has been hard to look at social media without coming across a scary-looking report from the Scottish newspaper The Sunday Post. “Scots team’s research finds Atlantic plankton all but wiped out in catastrophic loss of life,” reads the breathless headline. The article claims that a survey of plankton in the ocean found that “evidence… suggest[s] 90% has now vanished.” The article then goes on to predict the imminent collapse of our biosphere.

    There’s just one problem: The article is utter rubbish.

    The Sunday Post uses as its source a preprint manuscript—meaning it hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet—from lead author Howard Dryden at the Global Oceanic Environmental Survey.

    There’s no denying that our oceans are in trouble—the study notes in its introduction that they have lost 50 percent of all marine life over the past 70 years, and that number is rising at around 1 percent per year. But the Post’s article goes further than the preprint, citing plankton counts collected by 13 ships with 500 data points.

    Specifically, the article claims that the survey “expected to find up to five visible pieces of plankton in every 10 liters of water—but found an average of less than one. The discovery suggests that plankton faces complete wipe-out sooner than was expected.”

    Five hundred data points collected from 13 vessels sounds impressive, but David Johns, head of the Continuous Plankton Recorder Survey, describes it as “a literal drop in the ocean.” Johns would know—the Continuous Plankton Recorder Survey has been running since 1958 and has accumulated more than 265,000 samples.

    The Continuous Plankton Survey has indeed cataloged a loss of plankton over the years—but nothing close to the 90 percent loss claimed by Dryden. “We have noticed long-term changes—northerly movements of plankton species as surface water warms, changes in seasonality in some taxa, invasives, etc.,” Johns told Ars by email. “And we work with a wide group of scientists and governmental bodies, providing evidence for marine policy. As a group, we had an email discussion, and no one agreed with this report—and no one had heard of the guy (other than one person, and she was not complimentary at all).”

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