Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sea bugs heavier than elephants

Hitting the media this week has been a press release from the 'Census of Marine Life'. For example you can see the BBC report here: Census offers glimpse of oceans' smallest lifeforms or at Nature here: It's a microbial world- Worldwide census ups diversity estimates for marine microbes one-hundred-fold.

An unprecedented number of tiny, ocean dwelling organisms have been catalogued by researchers involved in a global survey of the world's oceans.

Although this infromation is fascinating I can help but comment on the appalling abuse of the SI system that is common to many of the reports and so, regrettably, must have been part of the press release.

One of the highlights was the discovery of a vast "microbial mat", covering an area equivalent to the size of Greece.

What? What's wrong with the hectare? It's 100m by 100m. Everyone can picture it. Who even knows how big Greece is? It's a series of freaking islands. Even most Greek people probably couldn't come up with a very good guess for the area of Greece. But wait there's more...

They have also calculated that the estimated total mass of marine microbes is equivalent to 240 billion African elephants.

The African elephant is not part of the SI system! Can we at least get it in tons (and elephants if you must). I know they are only trying to be reader friendly but see what it leads to -
The Belfast Telegraph - Sea bugs 'heavier than elephants' (complete with picture of elephant).

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