Our Oceans are in Trouble

I learned how to scuba dive when I was 14.  I took my first marine biology class in high school at the ripe old age of 16. Swimming was second nature to me. I belonged to swim teams and got my life guard certification at 14. Since I’ve moved close to the gulf, I love to head east to the white sand beaches of Florida and mingle with the Gulf’s critters.  There is absolutely nothing more exciting than swimming with dolphins and snorkeling in a coral reef.  I’d recommend every one do it at least once before they die.  It should be on every one’s bucket list.

So, my next question is why does mankind seem  intent on making all of this a thing of the past?

Any one that’s had close up experience with any of the ocean’s multitudes of fish, coral, and mammals can’t help but develop a life long fascination with the world’s oceans.  I didn’t grow up to be a marine biologist but I know enough to be frightened by their findings. What they are saying is that marine ecosystems are heading for mass extinctions of the sort that we haven’t seen in billions of years.  This time the reason isn’t an ice age, a meteor, or volcanic action.  The reason is man and the CO2 produced by nearly every thing mankind does these days.  Warning!  This is truly depressing.

Mass extinctions of species in the world’s oceans are inevitable if current trends of overfishing, habitat loss, global warming and pollution continue, a panel of renowned marine scientists warned Tuesday. How hard would it be to, to put our fishing hats into temporary retirement, lets watch life come back to us.

The combination of problems suggests there’s a brewing worldwide die-off of species that would rival past mass extinctions, the 27 scientists said in a preliminary report presented to the United Nations.

Vanishing species — from sea turtles to coral — would upend the ocean’s ecosystem. Fish are the main source of protein for a fifth of the world’s population and the seas cycle oxygen and help absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from human activities.

“Things seem to be going wrong on several different levels,” said Carl Lundin, director of global marine programs at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which helped produce the report with the International Programme on the State of the Ocean.

I can’t imagine living in world without shrimp on my plate and dolphins in my backyard. Dolphins are found in Lake Pontchartrain when it is clean and the salinity is correct. I also can’t imagine being one of those people that insists that climate change is a ‘hoax’.  There is nothing right about the number of Republicans that either think this is no big deal, a hoax, or don’t care because it’s just one more step towards the rapture.  The best article that I found about this report is at the BBC.  Please read it.  It’s disturbing.  Our oceans are in even worse shape than we thought.

In a new report, they warn that ocean life is “at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history”.

They conclude that issues such as over-fishing, pollution and climate change are acting together in ways that have not previously been recognised.

The impacts, they say, are already affecting humanity.

The panel was convened by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), and brought together experts from different disciplines, including coral reef ecologists, toxicologists, and fisheries scientists.

Its report will be formally released later this week.

“The findings are shocking,” said Alex Rogers, IPSO’s scientific director and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University.

“As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised.

“We’ve sat in one forum and spoken to each other about what we’re seeing, and we’ve ended up with a picture showing that almost right across the board we’re seeing changes that are happening faster than we’d thought, or in ways that we didn’t expect to see for hundreds of years.”

These “accelerated” changes include melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, sea level rise, and release of methane trapped in the sea bed.

You can read the depressing reasons for all of this.  Bottom feeding fish are eating pollutants. Levels of CO2 are so bad they are raising ocean temperatures quickly and causing food fish–like cod–to move further to to the north.  This is making them harder to fish and provides them less territory to survive. June 8 was  the first UN sanctioned World Ocean’s Day.  The celebrity face of the event and a campaign to promote safe seafood and fishing is Ted Danson.  Like other Hollywood celebs, Danson appeared before a Congressional committee to testify about his favorite project Oceana in 2010 and the effects of fishing subsidies on driving extinction of species like certain types of sharks. Danson also supports activities that inform people about fish that have such dangerous levels of toxins that they should not be eaten at the moment. Oceana  maintains a list of mislabeled seafood. These are fish that are used in place of  the real deal.  You can learn about more of the problems facing the oceans at this OCEAN link. They include things like over fishing and oil exploration and drilling.

We need to get informed and get active before it’s too late.