Recently, American scientists who studied the sea near the famous Bermuda Triangle have found another "anomaly". They saw that the surface waters in this area are literally teeming with a wide variety of viruses. However, the viruses do not represent any danger for humans as they only interested in oceanic bacteria.
The very phrase "Bermuda Triangle" has appeared only recently - it was coined by a fan of Spiritualism and esoteric Vincent Gaddis in 1964. By this toponym he meant an area located between the island of Puerto Rico, the Florida coast and Bermuda. According to the famous mystic of the last century, this area of the Atlantic became notorious due to the fact that hundreds of ships and aircraft disappeared there. Some ships, however, were found later, but without their crews and passengers.
All this made Gaddis suggests that there was some anomaly in this area. However, he was not the first one to express this idea. In 1950 an American journalist Alexander Jones wrote an article about the mysterious disappearance of ships in this region (which he called simply and tastefully - Sea Devil). Yet, the Bermuda Triangle acquired real popularity in 1974, when Charles Berlitz, a popularizer of science, published a book under the same title where he collected descriptions of various mysterious disappearances in the area. The book immediately became a bestseller, and as a result the mysterious and dangerous Sea Devil became known to the entire world. After that different groups of scientists engaged in searching for reasons to explain these disappearances.
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However, over time the skeptics slowly gained the upper hand over amateur mystics. No anomalies in this part of the ocean were found, and the U.S. Coast Guard has issued several reports according to which the disappearance of ships in the Bermuda Triangle did not occur more frequently than in other regions of the ocean, and they occurred mainly due to storms. Historians, digging in the archives, found that the area since the discovery of America was very often visited by various vessels, including pirate ones. Until the second half of the 20th century sailors made no mention of it as a mysterious place where ships were constantly perishing. Persnickety journalists analyzed Berlitz's book and found that most of the facts presented by the writer were not entirely true, and some were just made up.
By the 1990s, the interest in the Bermuda Triangle was largely exhausted. Recently, however, scientists regained interest in this area, because they did discover one anomaly there. However, it has nothing to do with the disappearance of ships and aircraft.
A team of U.S. scientists led by Professor Craig Carlson of the Bermuda Institute of Oceanology (St. George, Bermuda) have been conducting oceanographic research in the northwestern part of the Sargasso Sea for ten years, near the Bermuda Triangle and Bermuda islands. Recently a report on the work of the biologists has been published. Especially interesting in this report was the fact that, according to the observations of scientists, most numerous living organisms in the surface layers of the ocean in this region are viruses. Interestingly enough, the dynamics of these microscopic organisms is directly linked with the seasons. For example, in the summer viruses multiply actively in the water layers at depths ranging from 60 to 100 meters, and their number is up to ten million particles per drop of water. In the winter, sometimes they did not exist in the surface layers at all as they would go into the depths, following their masters.
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The researchers analyzed the DNA of the viruses caught and found that 90 percent of them still were not known to science. However, these microorganisms, both known and unknown, did not present any danger to humans. They all belong to a group of bacteriophages, that is, the objects of their attacks are bacteria living in the ocean. Bacteriophages are known to be very old-fashioned and conservative as they do not change their habits, and do not attack other creatures.
To be able to reproduce, bacteriophages lie in wait for unsuspecting bacteria. They attach themselves to their cell walls and enter into the victim's DNA. Furthermore, they integrate into the genome of the bacteria (which is a single circular DNA molecule, lying freely in the cytoplasm and not protected by any walls). This makes them forget about their own responsibilities and focus on producing all the necessary molecules for the assembly of new viruses. This assembly also takes place inside the bacterial cell. When the number of newborn bacteriophages reaches several million, they come from the host cell, effectively breaking it into pieces, and then go in search of new victims.
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The organic molecules of the dead bacteria fill the water surrounding them, and since bacteriophages kill hundreds of thousands of cells, it is not surprising that the sea surface in this place turns into a nutrient broth. Other bacteria hurry there for a feed and quickly become prey of cunning virus. This means that the bacteriophages form a microscopic ecosystem where they live.
Other marine creatures, unicellular and multicellular planktonic organisms, also enjoy the fruits of their work. Some are attracted by free nutrient broth, and others - by the bacteria feeding on it. It turns out viruses create a "cafeteria" in the surface layers of the sea. Even whales and dolphins come to eat there (these, in turn, are interested in swarms of krill feeding on microplankton and fish eating krill).
Scientists were amazed by what they saw because they did not know about this role of viruses in the formation of oceanic ecosystems. According to many oceanographers, oceanic viruses are very poorly understood because they are hard to catch. But now it is clear that they are countless in all seas and oceans.
"While we cannot see them with the naked eye, viruses are the dominant form of life in the ocean. They constitute 95 percent of the total biomass of the ocean. That is, the mass of virus is even larger than the mass of krill, fish and larger animals such as whales, combined. Given the pace of virus multiplication and their number, it becomes apparent how important their role in nutrient cycling on the planet is," said one of the authors of the study of biological "anomalies" of the Bermuda Triangle Dr. Rachel Persons. However, some experts believe that in this case there are no abnormalities specific to the Bermuda triangle as processes involving the viruses are occurring in many areas of the oceans. For example, biologists from the U.S. and Canada investigated the surface waters of the North Atlantic and reported that the most diverse viral community (129,000 genotypes) was found off the coast of British Columbia. The number of these microorganisms is also very high - approximately 50 million particles in a drop of water, which is five times greater than in the Bermuda Triangle. This "virus rage" is explained by the fact that this area has rising sea currents (upwelling), bringing nutrients from the depths of the ocean to the surface. In such areas sentient beings are more abundant and their diversity is higher than in the surrounding areas, and the virus is no exception to this rule.
It appears that the largest "virus carrier" on the planet is exactly in the oceans. It is fortunate that most of microscopic parasites living in it are not dangerous to humans.
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