There's something magical about Marine Snow: the way it settles on your hair and makes you look like elven royalty, the way it catches the light as it falls, sparkling like lightning bugs, looking almost, just for a moment, alive.
In the ocean, snow is alive. Well, it was alive. At least, some of it. Marine snow is ocean detritus, made up of bits of decaying animal, sand, soot and, yes, also "fecal matter."
Most marine snow is actually a composite of these different ingredients, held together by a polymer called transparent extracellular polysaccharides, the fancy term for phytoplankton and bacteria waste. These snowflakes can travel for weeks before reaching the bottom of the ocean. On their way, like snowballs rolling down a hill, they pick up more particles, becoming increasingly larger, up to several centimeters across.
The competition may not be very stiff, but marine snow is probably the world's most beautiful expression of poop glued together by more poop:
These organic flakes are a perfect snack for deep-water creatures, including vampire squid, eels and filter feeders. They also fight climate change by acting as "carbon sinks," pulling carbon down to the ocean floor and burying it.
That seems like reason enough to celebrate, don't you think?
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