What We Don't Know About the Ocean Can Kill Us
Jo aboard the Plastiki; Photos via The Plastiki
Guest post by Jo Royle, Skipper on the Plastiki
'The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides'
- Jules Vern, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea.
I think most of us feel an emotional tie to the oceans. Most of us breathe a sigh of relief or relaxation as soon as we set eyes upon the deep blue wilderness, a feeling of coming home. My childhood memories are filled with sea side scenes; from being bungled into a carry cot, on and off various little boats; first sailing experiences; the first time I got tumbled by a wave to what felt like near death, only to stand up ankle deep in water. I set off on the path of wanting to master the ocean, to be the knowledgeable seaman (girl), soon to realize that a lifetime of learning will not even scratch the surface. The main lesson life as a sailor has taught me is that we must be responsive to the changing environment.It continues to amaze me how little we know about the ocean; how it came to exist or the life stories of the marine life that inhabits it- such as whales and dolphins. It also scares me to realize how little we know about the damage that we are unconsciously and consciously causing to the ocean. I learn new things every day, for example the affects of the toxicity of one-use plastic in our ocean.
The health of our oceans is directly linked to our health and the health of future generations. The ocean regulates the planets temperatures by absorbing a vast majority of the CO² we continue to pump into the atmosphere, whilst at the same time providing us with more than half of the air we breathe. These facts alone make the ocean our umbilical cord to life. We can then talk about the hundreds of millions of jobs that are associated with the ocean; the fact that over 1 billion people, mainly very poor, rely on fish as their main source of protein; as well as simply the enjoyment we gain from being by or on the sea. No matter where we live we are all connected to the ocean, yet sometimes in our hectic lives we can forget what is keeping us alive. Not everyone has the opportunity to spend time by or on the sea to be continually reminded of this connection.
World Oceans Day highlights an opportunity to keep the ocean at the forefront of our mind and actions, with a view to ensuring the future health of the planet.
This year's World Ocean Day will sadly be remembered for the heart breaking devastation being caused by the Gulf Oil spill; it is certainly a time we need to be acting on reducing our oil consumption and re-assessing drilling policies.