Posted on March 6th, 2012 at 1:06 PM by Water is Wild (Devin)

Ocean in Trouble

            The ocean is a vast expanse of water, and is one of the pride and glories of our planet, that no other planets in our solar system has, which allowed life to first come into existence. For years the oceans were preserved as endless supplies of resources but are in fact now in danger by factors such as over fishing, the melting of polar ice caps, and the killing of coral all around the world, all of which are effecting its internal cycles and processes. The ocean is extremely important to me and has provided me with many inspirations through out my life and I want the ocean that is around now to be there for my children and grandchildren.

            Over fishing is a huge problem to the marine ecosystem of the oceans, which have brought many fish to the brink of extinction and others wiped out all together.  Some of these animals that were brought to the brink of extinction weren’t just fish, in the early 1800s whales where nearly decimated when they were hunted for blubber oil to use in lamps.  A example of over fishing happening today is in recent reports the fisheries in the arctic unreportedly caught 75 times more than what was recorded, totaling around 950 000 tonnes of fish from 1950 to 2006.(2) Right now it is predicted that in the year 2048 (1) we will exhaust close to all fish stocks in the worlds oceans to a point that they will not be able to be affordably fished anymore.

The attitude of some fishermen is that if they fish out one species that there will always be another species to replace it, when really even removing one species from an ecosystem can possibly collapse the whole area.  For example if you remove the herring from a certain area, which is one of the base food sources for other larger marine life would result in the sudden collapse of those animals, as well as a sharp incline in the population of plankton and krill which would then exhaust the base food sources and end up killing that species by starvation.  The reason this matters to me is because the ocean is a food source for our whole planet and without it we would not be able to have enough food to survive, as well as when I start working I want to actually have species that are not all on the brink of extinction.

Melting Glaciers are another problem facing the ocean because not only are they affecting the ocean currents, the ice caps also provide an environment in which aquatic and semi-aquatic animals, which are adapted to live in these habitats and if these habitats were taken away these animals would die out.  This is particularly important especially to us in Canada because of our reliance of food resources like the arctic cod, as well as the large amount of land that will possibly be underwater if all of the ice caps melted.

The melting ice caps will also affect the ocean currents by diluting them with fresh water and the way they work is that when the current is heading towards the poles it is drawn to the surface from being heated along the gulf stream and when it reaches the poles it cools and sinks drawing more warm water to replace it and pushing the colder water on the bottom away sort of simulating a conveyer belt.  This conveyer belt transports nutrients that would otherwise be unreachable by the cold current picking up minerals and nutrients from the ocean floor and as it rises brings the nutrients up with it, feeding the microscopic organisms that are in the base of the food chain.  This is important to me because the ecosystem in the arctic is completely unique, in fact just recently they found an entire ecosystem underneath the continent of ice in the arctic, which was thought to be completely void of life because of lack of sunlight and I hope to eventually explore and study these habitats before they are wiped out.

The killing of coral is one of the most destructive to marine ecosystems because even though they only cover a small amount of the earth they contain the majority of marine life in the ocean.  Coral reefs are especially sensitive to changes in the ocean for even a rise of 10 degrees in ocean temperature or an increase in toxicity can kill off a coral reef.  This has been seen with parts of the Great Barrier Reef that have been killed by pesticides from agricultural run-off, as well as by the rise in ocean temperatures from global warming.  In some countries the damage to the coral reefs are worse like off the shore of the Philippines where it is estimated over 70% of the original coral reef system has been destroyed and only 5% are in good condition (3) this has happened because of nutrient run-off which promotes algae growth, as well as toxins that are either directly absorbed in the form of trash or absorbed out of the air through acid rain.

The term that is used for when a piece of coral dies is coral bleaching, this is when the algae inside the coral (which gives coral its colour) dies or leaves because of toxicity or a lack of sunlight, which gives it a completely white color.  Coral bleaching has happened all over the world and many once thriving coral reefs are now planes of white lifeless structures that now give shelter and food to a lot less fish, especially colourful fish that once used the colour of the reef to hide from predators.   Although there are some places in the world like Cuba that protect certain portion of their coral reefs, one in particular is the “Garden of the Queens”, that has been protected for many years and is now also a research institute because it is the only coral reef protected for long enough that it might have gave an example of how coral reefs looked like before people started ruining them. This is important to me because a lot of the beautiful coral reefs that we once had on this planet are now either withering or dead if they are not otherwise protected and I want to make sure that their will still be beautiful coral reefs around that don’t have to be protected in order to look beautiful.

The Ocean and all water in general is the single most important thing on earth, it allowed life to start, and it sustains all life on earth.  Now if you knew something was this important would you protect it, if not for yourself, for your children and the following generations after you are long gone.  The time to act is now given the short time period we have until this ticking time bomb goes off, and if that happens we can not only say goodbye to the environment, we can kiss ourselves goodbye.

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