While in California we visited the Monterey Bay aquarium. Filled with stunning displays and a mass of information concerning the life with in our oceans,
the aquarium was an enchanting place to visit.
About the Aquarium
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located in Monterey at the west end of historic Cannery Row, just minutes from Carmel and Pebble Beach. Monterey is approximately 125 miles (208 km) south of San Francisco and 360 miles (600 km) north of Los Angeles. It is home to sea otters, penguins, sharks, jellyfish, and thousands of other marine animals and plants. They are heavily involved with conservation and aim to inspire the rest of us to do the same. For more information visit their website.
Mesmerizing and Beautiful Underwater Life
While there, we had the opportunity to film some of the sea life exhibits. Packed with facts concerning the serious problems caused by over-fishing, sewage pollution and rubbish dumping into our oceans, the video is also mesmerizingly beautiful with stunning shots of the fish, seahorses and jellyfish living at the aquarium. It makes you question whether we really love the life in our oceans.
How the seas can reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Just like forests, the oceans can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by trapping and storing carbon. In an article on the topic, Dr Dan Laffoley, marine vice chair of IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas, talks in detail on how the oceans can massively buffer climate change, and at a cost-effective price for our economies.
In short he states that one of the great positives to come from the COP15 talks is the progress made on a program called Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation. It works, as developing countries, in which most tropical rainforests survive, are compensated for preserving their forests, peat soils, swamps and fields. All of these are efficient absorbers of carbon dioxide, one of the key gases involved with climate change.
Yet Dr Laffoley points out that it seems a pity the program is limited to only those carbon sinks found on land, when similar opportunities to curb climate change lie in the oceans. Absorbing some 25% of current annual carbon dioxide emissions, with half the worlds carbon stocks being held in plankton, mangroves, salt marshes and other marine life it seems obvious that the preservation of ocean life is as important as that of our forests. In fact the worlds most efficient natural carbon sink is Posidonia oceanica, a species of sea grass.
With these figures it is imperative that we contain the amount of human activity within these areas. As with deforestation, continued human development along coastal areas, brings both pollution and over fishing, drastically altering and destroying the natural habitats of the animal and plant species that control the levels of climate change gases. Yet the protection of these areas not only maintain our natural ecosystems, they are also of huge benifit to the economy and the societies dependent upon them. Managing our oceans is therefore a benefit for all. The cost of doing nothing is in the end far more expensive.
To read Dr Dan Laffoley's full article use this link.
General Oceanic Facts
Below you can find some really interesting bullet point facts.
1. Nearly 80% of marine debris comes from land-based sources while 60 - 80% of all marine debris is made up of plastic materials.
2. Plastic bags kill 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles every year. The animals mistake them for jellyfish, and once eaten the plastic bags block their digestive tract, slowly starving them to death.
3. Each year, 3 times more rubbish is dumped into the oceans than the weight of fish caught.
1. Most fishing techniques are unsustainable with dramatic bycatch issues. In fact the global fishing fleet harvests 2.5 times more than the oceans can sustainably support.
2. Some reports show a fish population decline of 80% within only 10 - 15 years of large fishing vessels moving into an area.
3. 15 of the worlds 17 fisheries are on the point of collapse, which is causing a severe food security problem, as well as huge biodiversity and ecological issues.
4. Bottom trawlers directly threaten species richness and biodiversity, catching a variety of non-target, undesirable or unmarketable species.
5. In the southern California spot prawn trawl fishery, 17 pounds of bycatch is caught and discarded back into the water for every 1 pound of target species that is sent to market. Most of the bycatch will either be dead or badly injured. Ironically, simple proven methods already exist to reduce and even eliminate bycatch.
6. According to the World Bank, if we were to use smaller, more streamlined fishing fleets, operating sustainably and catching fewer fish, we could save the economy $50bn per year.
7. Due to our unsustainable fishing techniques and pollution, we are killing our oceans large predators at an unprecedented rate. This is causing dramatic changes to the ecosystems and natural food chains.
8. For instance, the number of sharks off the east coast of North America have declined precipitously in the last 15 years. Hammerhead shark figures have dropped by 89%, threshers by 80%, great whites by 79%, oceanic whitetips by 70%, tigers by 65%, blues by 60% and makos by 40.
9. Oceanic whitetip sharks have declined in the Gulf by more than 99% and are now virtually extinct in this area.
1. There is a direct correlation between carbon dioxide output and ocean acidity and it’s rendering more and more of the ocean inhospitable to marine life at the very base of the food chain.
2. In fact disease is increasing among most kinds of marine organisms. Studies show that this is due to a number of factors including global warming, habitat destruction and over fishing.
3. Ironically, the chemicals that were developed to control disease, increase food production, and improve our standard of living are, in fact, a threat to biodiversity and human health. Their risks outweigh their benefits, so unless they can be safely redesigned, continued use is no longer warranted.
4. Air pollution is responsible for 33% of the toxic contaminants that end up in oceans and coastal waters. 44% of the toxic contaminants come from runoff via rivers and streams.
5. 80% of urban sewage discharged into the Mediterranean Sea is untreated, effecting both marine and human life.
6. This contaminates the shellfish, which, when eaten raw, can cause 2.5 million cases of infectious hepatitis a year. This leads to 25,000 fatalities and the same number of long-term disabilities due to liver damage. At these levels the cost to the economy is as high as $10 billion annually.
1. While coral reefs only cover 0.2% of the ocean area, they are estimated to hold 33% of all marine fish species and millions of other marine organisms.
2. They harbor a wealth of biodiversity, that if destroyed would significantly reduce the numbers of fish available for human food supplies.
3. Like the rainforests it is also thought coral reefs likely to produce the chemicals and other answers needed to cure health conditions.
4. Already, (due to its architecture and chemistry), coral has been used to replace human bone grafts, in so helping human bone to heal quickly and cleanly.
5. Just a 1-2c increase can cause coral reefs to suffer from heat stress and bleach.
Why is worth protecting our oceans?
1. An estimated 50 - 80% of all life on earth is found under the ocean surface and the oceans contain 99% of the living space on the planet.
2. Marine and coastal ecosystems are of vital importance to human well-being. Their value has been estimated at around US$13 trillion. This is equal to one half of annual global GNP
3. They supply the greatest quantity of protein rich food. However as many as 90% of all the oceans large fish have been fished out. Cod may never come back.
4. Only 0.6% of the world’s oceans have been designated as protected - compared to almost 13% of our planet’s land area.
5. The vegetation and other marine life with in our oceans absorb 25% of current annual carbon dioxide emissions.