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s00u3le3 - Weedon Island - Sea Lesson III. Weedon Island...

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© Project Oceanography 41 Weedon Island - Sea Weedon Island - Sea Lesson III. Weedon Island – Sea keywords: pollution, nitrogen, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia Inhabitants of Weedon Island Some of the fish that can be collected in a net at Weedon Island include anchovy, sheepshead, catfish, snook, blenny, stingray, and snapper. At the water’s edge, an observer might see a fish jumping, a bird stalking a small fish, or a Cormorant duck lazily drifting in the current. As one might look further out into the deeper waters that surround the island, a dolphin playing or a manatee might be spotted. The waters and the muddy flats are found on Weedon Island are great place to observe the local reptile families. Alligators, and turtles might be found floating at the surface of the water basking in the warm Florida sun, while others may be found in trees. Skinks, squirrel treefrogs, mangrove snakes, diamondback terrapin snakes, and rattlesnakes can all be found throughout the preserve. The Nitrogen Cycle adapted from an article written by Dr. Kent Fanning for the St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Fl The element nitrogen, which forms up to 90% of the air that we breathe, is also important in seawater. It is the most abundant gas in the atmosphere, and necessary for all functions of life. The movement of nerve impulses, muscle contraction, photosynthesis, growth, digestion of food, vision and growth of hair, feathers, or scales are only a few of the processes that require nitrogen. But nitrogen has a negative side. Processes inside healthy tissues produce a molecule in which nitrogen is joined to hydrogen atoms. This molecule is called ammonia, or ammonium. Ammonia is poisonous and if not removed, or contained in some way inside tissue, it causes death. All animals, including fish and people, must some how get rid of this poison that is a by-product of normal living. Fish excrete ammonia (NH 4 + ) through their gills. Mammals excrete urea, birds excrete uric acid. Ocean fish benefit from another process that recycles the excess nitrogen -- phytoplankton! These are microscopic algae and they are the basis of the food web for the entire ocean. They are nearly everywhere in the surface ocean. They are usually starved for nitrogen, and take ammonia out of seawater whenever they encounter it. Ammonia is their “favorite” fertilizer during photosynthesis. Phytoplankton growing on ammonia “convert” a fish’s waste ammonia
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© Project Oceanography 42 Weedon Island - Sea Weedon Island - Sea into plant tissue fish can then feed on. At the same time, bacteria called nitrifying bacteria cause a reaction between ammonia and dissolved oxygen that makes forms of nitrogen called nitrate (NO 3 ) and nitrite (NO 2 - ). Because of nitrifying bacteria, ocean water nearly always contains nitrate, nitrite or both. Harmful concentrations of ammonia
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s00u3le3 - Weedon Island - Sea Lesson III. Weedon Island...

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