Thursday, 19 May 2011

Oceans Alive

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No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal.”
~ Jacques-Yves Cousteau 

Covering nearly 140 million square miles (362 million square kilometers), the world's oceanic surface is vast and vastly deep: the world's oceans comprise close to three-quarters of the Earth's surface, between 71% and 72%. At its deepest point, the Marina Trench  in the Western Pacific, the ocean reaches down to a depth of 36, 198 feet or 11,033 meters. Ours is more of a watery rather than a terrestrial planet. Water is the source of all life on Earth; without water, life is unsustainable. (Source:, undated)

Today, more than ever, the state of the world's oceans and seas are, like the state of the Earth's forests and atmosphere, a clear reflection - a barometer - of the planet's overall environmental health. And also more than ever, sensitivity towards the limits of the oceans' seemingly infinite resources requires a new awareness that, like everything else, our oceans' resources are, in fact, finite. As the dominant - and most numerous - species on the planet, what we do inevitably impacts everything else around us, including the other species who share out world; at this moment in time, ocean conservancy and protection are critical.  

And part of that protection involves controlling the amount of harmful pollutants that find their way into the world's rivers, seas, and oceans. Not surprisingly, one of the most abundant pollutants adversely affecting the health of our oceans are plastics - that common material of everyday life. For instance, in 2010, "water samples were taken from the top 20 centimeters of water in the northwestern part of the Mediterranean, mainly off France and Italy, and analyzed by Pasquale Paoli University in Corsica and the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. Ninety percent of the samples contained microplasticsparticles smaller than 5 millimeterswith some containing up to six times more micro-fragments than organic plankton. In general, micro debris floating in the sea surface reached 115,000 particles per square kilometer with a maximum of 892,000 particles/km2."
(Quote: The Cousteau Society,, 2011)

For their part, the world's oceans play a key role in the functioning of our planet: the oceans are instrumental in creating more than half of our oxygen, driving weather systems and modulating the atmosphere, not to mention providing the world's growing populations with vital resources (careless overfishing is another stressor and a contributing factor - along with pollution - to the decline our oceans' health); in other words, the oceans help to maintain life on Earth. And although the extent of the damage to the world's oceans is not as readily apparent as it is on land, it is just as grave. "The situation is now so severe that we are altering the chemistry of the Ocean, with significant impacts on marine life and the functioning of marine ecosystems. The Ocean has already absorbed more than 80% of the heat added to the climate system and around 33% of the carbon dioxide emitted by humans. Ecosystems are collapsing as species are pushed to extinction and natural habitats are destroyed. Scientists believe that there is still time to prevent irreversible, catastrophic changes to our marine ecosystems but that this requires drastic action within a decade."
(Source & quote:, 2010)


Video courtesy of: adosig ~ YouTube

Video courtesy of: Netikras Nevardas ~ YouTube

Video courtesy of: BBCWorldwideTV ~ YouTube

As dire as things may appear to be, there is hope - thanks to organizations and individuals who take an active role in the protection and conservation of our oceans. The best response, the best antidote to the state of today's oceans is to take initiative - and to educate oneself as well as others on the importance of our oceans to the overall health of our blue planet.

An annual global event which takes place every June 8th, World Oceans Day is a worldwide celebration that is now recognized by the United Nations and celebrated in dozens of countries.

To find out how you can take an active part in the health and well-being of the world's oceans, please visit The Ocean Project, an organization which aims to advance "ocean conservation in partnership with zoos, aquariums, and museums (ZAMs) around the world." (Source:, 2009)

You may also link in to the suggested sites below and take further action.

Suggested sites to visit:

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