When you look out over an ocean it feels almost endless. If not exactly endless, the oceans are indeed huge. The Pacific ocean as an example is bigger than all the land masses of the earth put together. In the word’s of Philip Ball - we ought to call our planet Water and not Earth. The oceans are also by far our greatest natural resource. They absorb most of the carbon dioxide we put out in the atmosphere, they are the largest producer of oxygen and millions of tons of fish feed us every year. The oceans are the blue heart of our planet.
Yet perhaps because the oceans are so enormous, we seem to care very little about what goes on there. Up until the mid 90’s - we were still dumping radioactive material directly in the ocean. Only around 1 out of 10 large sea creatures remain from just hundred years ago. 12% of the earth’s surface is protected environments these days - yet the number for the oceans stands at a disappointing 0,8%.
With the words of Bill Bryson: “We are astoundingly, sumptuously, radiantly ignorant of life beneath the seas. Even the most substantial ocean creatures are often remarkably little know to us - including the most mighty of them all, the great blue whale, a creature of such leviathan proportions that its tongue weighs as much as an elephant and its heart the size of a car… It is the most gargantuan beast the world Earth has ever produced, yet the lives of blue whales are largely a mystery to us. Most of the time we have no idea where they are - where they go to breed, for instance, or what routes they follow to get there. What little we know of them comes almost all from eavesdropping on their songs, but even these are largely a mystery. Blue whales will sometimes break off a song, then pick it up exactly the same spot six months later. Sometimes they strike up with a new song, which no memeber can have heard before but which each already know. How they do this and why are not remotely understood. And these are animals that must routinely come to the surface to breathe.”
We might not know much about the oceans, but a few things are increasingly certain. Without protection, there will not be much to learn about in the future. The oceans can simply not withstand the current impact of human civilization. The second thing that technological and scientific progress has taught us, is that without our blue heart there will be no life on earth.
I invite you all to watch Sylvia Earle’s amazing visual and factual journey through the world’s oceans and I sincerely hope you will listen to her message.
Sylvia Earle - The Blue Heart of The Planet