23. Jan, 2016

The health of our Oceans (1)

'The health  of our oceans is crucial for the health of the world and its population'. Very few will disagree with this statement. But oceans are hard to control. And their health is hard to judge by just looking at its surface. We need marine biologists and ecologists to do that job for us.  

Many of us have access to the beaches and shallower coastal areas. That cover only a minuscule slice of the immense ocean. Tourists that visit exotic beaches still see a blue sea with crystal clear water. And they are happy with the sun shining  on their bodies and a nice cold drink in their hand.  Scuba divers sometimes report a decline in coral formations or the fish  populations. But paradoxically, some coral reef formations like those in the Red Sea still seem to be in good shape. And despite the alarming and world wide decline of  the shark population,  underwater photographers still find opportunities  to visit places where large and magnificent shark are abundant.  Is this because they  have access to selected 'niches' where fish and coral are relativey well conserved and protected?   There are indeed hopeful signs that marine protected areas are an effective way to protect underwater vegetations and fish species, even those that had become almost extinct. A good example In Europe is the 'Parc National' around  Port Cros  in the  South of France where the population of groupers has been miraculously restored,  since its foundation some 30 year ago.

But what happens out  in the deep oceans  world wide is a different story. Here the overall  picture looks pretty grim: 

'WWF's Living Blue Planet Report takes a deep look at the health of our oceans and the impact of human activity on marine life. Data on marine ecosystems and human impacts upon them is limited, reflecting the lack of attention the ocean has received to date. Nevertheless, the trends shown here present a compelling case for action to restore our ocean to health'.