Ocean life is amazing.
I fear the ocean. It is an alien world overwhelmingly unsuitable for my land-locked body.
It is an environment where all life truly functions in a three-dimensional landscape.
Forwards and backwards;
left and right;
downwards and upwards.
Science now offers us a glimpse of the beauty to be found in the ocean depths via the Census of Marine Life. And images delivered by our instruments lend us a sense of wonder upon the amazing life that we had hitherto been ignorant about.
The Census of Marine Life was officially launched in 2000. After a decade of work, some of the most interesting findings are the delineations of the ocean’s unknowns. For example, the Census upped the estimate of the number of known marine species to nearly 250,000, but still couldn’t estimate the total number of species in the ocean. It might be millions, the report says, or tens or hundreds of millions, when all the ocean’s microbes are accounted for.
A study of 10 groups of large, commercially important marine animals (such as reef fish, whales, sharks, and open ocean fish like tuna) found that at their lowest point, these groups had declined by nearly 90 percent from their historic baselines. However, after reaching their low points a few of these groups have shown signs of recovery–a hopeful indication that conservation programs can work. On the other end of the food chain, researchers found evidence of a global but patchy decline in phytoplankton, the tiny photosynthetic organisms that are a crucial source of food for many ocean critters.
These are the creatures that we are steadily murdering with impunity. As selfishness, stinginess, and greed replace our inherent ability to reason, and to decide that some things are worth protecting.
Whatever the price may be.