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What is Algae?

Algae are the most important life forms on Earth. Still, many can't answer the question, "What is algae?"

First of all, "algae" is plural, so it is better to ask "What are algae?"

The word ďalgaeĒ embraces a huge variety of life forms, and scientists donít always agree on which organisms are algae, and which ones arenít.

You may think of algae as plants that float in the water, but thatís not exactly correct. Like plants, algae make their own food by photosynthesis. But algae arenít planted in the ground, so they arenít really plants.

Furthermore, some algae donít live in the water, they might live in the soil or in the snow, and some algae have even been found floating in clouds. So you can think of algae as photosynthetic life forms that usually float in the water.

There are huge numbers of algae. Everything from the tiniest photosynthetic bacterium to a giant kelp that grows 200 feet tall are considered algae.

Great e-book about algae.
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Why are algae so important?

  • The oceans cover about 71% of the Earthís surface, yet algae produce more than 71% of the Earthís oxygen; in fact, some scientists believe that algae produce 87% of the worldís oxygen.
  • They also help remove huge amounts of Carbon Dioxide from the air. Carbon Dioxide causes global warming, so algae are one of our most important allies in the fight against climate change.
  • They are the basis of most food chains in the ocean and in fresh water. No algae, no fish.
  • Someday, algae may allow us to stop burning petroleum.

Great activity simulating an Algal bloom

Ten Cool Algae Facts (Including a fact about Dynamite!)

What is algae

Click the picture above to get a great ebook about Algae.

Algae can also be used for medicinal purposes, some of which might be studied in the following degree programs. The field of nursing continues to grow, and various rn to bsn online programs are available for those interested. Another area that continues to grow is health information management and health informatics. If you are interested in find out more about storing health data and medical informatics, then a bachelor degree in health information management might be a good place to start. For those looking to work with our aging population, a masters in gerontology can provide you with the education you need.

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Wave of Algae

Millions of glowing algae make this wave glow.
Image by Msauder, licensed under Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0

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