It’s 2018, and we’ve got humans living in orbit and robots exploring the cosmos to look for new places for our civilization to expand. At the same time, we’ve still only managed to explore five percent of the ocean’s depths. We’ve mapped the length and breadth of the oceans, but most of what is hiding beneath the surface is still unexplored. Advances in ocean exploration technology are just starting to let us discover what is hidden in the depths of the ocean. How are these technological advances changing our understanding of the sea?
Recently, ocean pollution has been making headlines. Queen Elizabeth of England announced her decision to cut plastic use on royal estates, the BBC announced their plan to eliminate all single-use plastics by 2030 and the EU decided to reduce the availability of single-use plastics in all of their countries. This has sparked new conversations about the amount of plastic that is in the ocean and what its impact on humans may be. After all, we are part of the food chain, so anything that impacts our food can also impact us.
The statistics on plastic in the ocean are staggering. For example, as much as 15 percent of the sand on some Hawaiian beaches is actually microplastics. But for many people, it’s out of sight, out of mind. We exist in a culture of convenience, and being able to throw things away without a second thought is a huge aspect of that. One of the best ways to combat that attention problem is to keep the spotlight on the issue. After all, plastic trash is an issue we have the power to fix. We know the solution is to use less plastic, recycle and avoid single-use items.
We usually think of plastic pollution as a problem for crowded beaches or heavily populated events. Anywhere there is a concentration of people, there will inevitably be plastic waste scattered across the landscape. What most people don’t realize is that densely populated areas are not the only ones affected by this waste. The highest density of plastic pollution ever recorded is miles and miles away from any human interaction, on a small, uninhabited island in the South Pacific.
Our oceans are filled with countless unique and amazing creatures. Some can be found in waters all around the globe, while others live only in particular locations. And there are still many more species — such as this bizarre squid — to be found!
Here are seven sea animals by ocean who remain unique to their area of the world.
When you think of the ocean, and especially endangered species in the ocean, what comes to mind? For most people, it’s things like adorable penguins, majestic whales or playful dolphins. While these animals are all important parts of their respective ecosystems and may be endangered, they’re not the only life forms at risk. Ocean plants are an essential part of our ecosystems, and many of them are endangered as well, thanks to overfishing and other human interventions. Here are a few ocean plants that are essential parts of their own ecosystem and part of the oceanic biosphere as a whole.
Our planet is a wonder, at least as far as we know. It’s the only place in the universe that contains life. That life, all of the life we know of in the entire universe, depends on the oceans. Studying the oceans is a life-long goal for many people. Both the fields of oceanography and marine biology have intense competition, especially for graduate school placement.
The work you do, regardless of which field you choose, will be essential. As climate change progresses, it will only become more so. But that doesn’t always mean it will be good. Working on the ocean is hard, it can be dangerous, and it’s often underfunded. When considering oceanography vs. marine biology, you face similar working conditions and hazards. It comes down to the work you’ll be doing.
Scientists are observing humpback whale behavior that might be empathetic.
Never become complacent in thinking you know everything there is to know about our planet. Inevitably, something will happen to make you realize you don’t know as much as you thought you did. Besides, that’s one of the great things about our world: learning new and interesting things about it.
As humans, we are the most advanced species on the planet, and we believe that all other animals, while possessing survival intelligence, can’t match our wit and reasoning capabilities. These traits certainly set us apart from other animals, but scientists are learning that animals might have more adaptations than we originally believed. One of these might even be empathy among wildlife.
Conserving ocean life is critical — our oceans are home to everything from microscopic organisms to blue whales. These species depend on ocean health to survive, yet offshore oil and gas development, along with climate change and fishing, constantly threaten sea life. These issues are why oceans need to be conserved, managed and protected consistently.
The ocean is the largest ecosystem on Earth and contributes a great deal to human life as well, like with oxygen production. The United States has over 1,600 marine protected areas that cover 80 percent of national waters. The purpose of MPAs is to regulate human activity and prevent the loss of marine life. However, the amount of MPAs that exist doesn’t mean there’s an overabundance of protection, especially in areas that are poorly designed.
So what do protected waters mean for sea life?
Up north, the ice is melting. This fact is nothing new for many of us, who have heard the warnings of global climate change since the early 2000s. However, as new reports continue to emerge, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: Sea ice is melting, and faster than anyone thought. If this trend continues, we’ll be headed for a complete seasonal melt of the ice caps by 2030 — far ahead of the direst predictions of yesteryear.
Rising oceanic temperatures and melting ice can have a tremendous impact on various factors, both locally and around the globe. It’s important to take a close look at how the rest of the ecosystem — both at home and around the world’s oceans — will fare under these new conditions.
Going on vacation usually means something relaxing. Most people want to sit by the pool or on the beach, drink in hand, soaking up the sun. But every once in a while, that idea just sounds boring, doesn’t it? Take a chance and do something exciting. Go whale watching! Here are 10 reasons why everyone needs to go whale watching.