The last frontier

Deep Rover Photo Credit- US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Deep Rover
Photo Credit- US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Forget space travel. I wonder what it would be like to dive 1000 meters into obscurity, surrounded by pulsating bodies of bioluminescent sea beasts – the darkness enveloping you in the most comforting, yet terrifying hug you could imagine.

Now imagine how these remote areas would look 30 years from now.

I’ve been going over my post about the documentary Mission Blue and the work of Sylvia Earle. Since writing that original entry, I’ve done some more research and thought it appropriate to adjust the focus. While Sylvia Earle is an amazing, intrepid researcher and conservationist, I think we should be looking to the ‘guardian within’ in order to affect real change when it comes to ocean conservation.

So, why should we care what happens to our blue regions?

71% of the earth’s surface is covered in ocean. These waters regulate climate and weather, and support life on earth through the cycling of vital gases and nutrients. It’s no surprise, then, that our water regions play a huge role in our future. However, as with all things, there is balance at play: knock one element off-kilter, and another inevitably reacts.

Let’s consider our relationship with water on a cellular level. The human body comprises a range of water between 50% to 75%. Babies and children have the highest percentage, followed by adult men, then adult women. Water is the primary building block of cells. It also works as an insulator, regulator, lubricator and shock absorber within the body. Water is fundamental to our survival because of our cellular makeup and our dependence on the larger bodies of blue which regulate earthly forces. Once again, the microcosm meets the macrocosm.

The interconnectedness of life above and below water is highlighted by some alarming statistics. For instance, coral reefs cover only 0.2% of the ocean floor, yet they support an estimated 25% of all marine life. At the present rate of destruction through pollution, damaging fishing practices, tourism overuse, and coral bleaching, it’s estimated that 60% of the world’s coral reefs will be destroyed within 30 years.

Ocean dead zones: areas that no longer support sea life due to oxygen depletion, are owed primarily to agricultural run-off. The sludge produced by agriculture seeps into our waterways and eventually ends up in our oceans, creating large areas of algal blooms which eventually diminish the amount of concentrated dissolved oxygen in the water. This lack of oxygen suffocates marine life and essentially reduces biodiversity.

When you delve deeper into the issue, it becomes more and more apparent how our daily habits can affect change. What I’ve learned to date certainly makes me question my personal contribution to the issue. So how do we find balance? What can we do as individuals to help protect our oceans?

Perhaps we should start by paying close attention to what we consume, to know the origin of our food and to educate ourselves in conservation.

What I admire about people like Sylvia Earle is their ability to maintain an almost childlike love and enthusiasm for the subject of their cause. Our oceans are certainly worth the admiration. But we need more than admiration to affect change. It will take effort by each of us: a sacrifice of things we consider convenient. Industrialization has not only polluted our earth, it has deluded us if we think our daily burger isn’t part of the problem. Just do the research; it will shock you. Did you know it takes 600 barrels (BARRELS) of water to produce just one hamburger?

Research, education and conservation work are crucial because we don’t see the effect of our oil-spills, ocean-dumping, over-fishing and consumption habits apart from what we observe on the surface. And even then, all is quickly forgotten. What’s happening below the floating ship should concern us all, and that’s the message. “No water, no life. No blue, no green.” – Sylvia Earle

Even so, I wonder which route is more effective now that awareness is growing: to back leading environmental groups through donations, which gives us a warm fuzzy feeling while allowing us to keep a safe distance from our actual role in the issue, or to take responsibility for our daily habits and current beliefs. Perhaps a bit of the first and a whole lot of the second…

 

Sources:

‘Mission Blue’ and ‘Cowspiracy’ documentaries on Netflix

http://www.seashepherd.org/commentary-and-editorials/2014/05/06/v-648 

http://www.defenders.org/coral-reef/basic-facts 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eutrophication

http://chemistry.about.com/od/waterchemistry/f/How-Much-Of-Your-Body-Is-Water.htm

 

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