When ocean water evaporates, it releases water vapor, which is a component of the air we breathe. However, it is not one of the main components of the air; air is composed of 78.09% nitrogen and 20.95% oxygen, along with traces of other gases.
It is not the water itself that produces oxygen, but the tiny plant called phytoplankton. This is a small algae that photosynthesizes like land plants, where it consumes carbon dioxide from the air and releases oxygen to the atmosphere.
There is a major issue facing our oceans phytoplankton population, which has massive implications for the rest of the earth as well. It is estimated that in the last 50 years, phytoplankton population has fallen by 40% and continues to drop at around 1% each year. This is unsettling because it is also estimated that phytoplankton are responsible for anywhere from 50-90% of all oxygen produced on the planet.
Phytoplankton exist near the surface of water and ‘drift’ along to obtain the energy of the sun. Increasing ocean temperatures, and altering wind patterns (which bring essential nutrients to the ocean surface) are the suspected culprits in the decline of phytoplankton numbers.
Not only being a massive oxygen producer, phytoplankton also forms the basis of many ocean food chains, and is the primary source of sustenance for many whale species.
[img_assist|nid=187428|title=Phytoplankton in Pacific|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=640|height=640]
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