Dinoflagellates are bioluminescent plankton present in both saltwater and freshwater environments. They are an integral part of the food chain, as they are eaten by many species of fish. However, in San Francisco some species of these plankton could be causing problems sooner rather than later. The effects of rising water temperatures due to global warming could potentially allow dinoflagellates blooms to occur more frequently. This is a problem since at least two known species present in the coastal waters of San Francisco are toxic to fish populations there. The result will be the death of some fish species and the shellfish of the area will also be poisoned.
This short video, by Discovery News, explains and shows the phenomena which occurs in San Fransisco:
Many people have never heard of these dinoflagellates, but that could change in the near future. In 2013, a team of biologists and product developers started a successful Kickstarter campaign to sell a new kind of pet. The company behind the campaign is Yonder Biology which was founded on the premise of combining science and art, specifically "'living art' -- art that can grow, renew itself and respond to stimuli." This pet could be a great way to teach kids about photosynthesis and bioluminescence and help make science more accessible to them at a very young age.
The pet contains these dinoflagellates. The pet is left to photosynthesize during the day and will glow at night time, as they do in nature. It is very simple to take care of and they have a lifespan of about 1-3 months. The Dino could be a great first pet for children, much like a goldfish is, teaching them how to care for an organism and some biology along with it.
Carolyn McDonagh (Group B)