When the Earth is viewed from space, it’s mostly blue. In fact, the ocean covers over 70% of our planet. Life began in the world’s oceans, and today – billions of years later – we’re no less dependent on it. From the diverse organisms which call it home, to the complex ways it helps keep global climates in check, our own survival is undeniably linked to that of the ocean.
Yet, the ocean is under increasing strain. Climate change, pollution, and damaging human activity are threatening its survival, along with the many organisms living in it. One instance of this is the ocean’s rising acidity as it absorbs more pollutants from the atmosphere: especially unwelcome news for any creatures with calcium carbonate shells, such as corals and crabs, or if you’re one of the countless sea creatures or millions of people dependent on coral ecosystems. This is just one of the many ways in which the ocean is under threat.
World Oceans Day is a chance to celebrate the ocean and ensure its future conservation. Ahead of World Oceans Day, which takes place on 8th June, we’ve collected freely-available journal articles, book chapters, and author blog posts which provide fascinating insights into the ocean, and underline the importance of its preservation.
‘The life of oceans: a history of marine discovery’ by Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams on the OUPblog
In 1841, Edward Forbes pronounced the deep ocean dead with his “azoic hypothesis” – he claimed that life there simply could not exist. Since then, we’ve gradually been discovering the fantastic and bizarre creatures who inhabit the deep ocean, spending their lives in darkness.
‘Applying organized scepticism to ocean acidification research’ by Howard I. Browman in ICES Journal of Marine Science
Ocean acidification (OA) poses a very real threat to the health of the ocean and the organisms living within it. In this journal article, Browman discusses the trajectory of research about OA, the causes of OA, and the risks it poses to marine organisms and ecosystem processes.
‘Predicting the impact of ocean acidification on coral reefs’ by Paul L. Jokiel in ICES Journal of Marine Science
The world’s coral reefs support a vast ecosystem of ocean life. Yet, with rising ocean acidification levels, reefs are dying at an alarming rate. This journal article charts the science behind ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and the models used to predict future reef decline.
‘Marine Mammal Conservation’ by John R. Twiss et al. in Foundations of Environmental Sustainability: The Coevolution of Science and Policy
Effective conservation goes hand-in-hand with policy-making and legislature. In the early 1970s, the United States, in an effort to curb the slaughter of thousands of dolphins, whales, and seals, passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This chapter sketches the context in which the act was passed, and the challenges it has since faced.
‘Ocean-Atmosphere Interactions’ by Anthony J. Vega in Encyclopedia of Climate and Weather
Did you know that in addition to the input of fresh water by continental streams, the saltiness of ocean water is directly related to the amount of sun it receives? For example, the saltiest areas of the ocean occur in the cloudless (and thus precipitation-less) regions of the planet around 30 degrees north and south latitudes.
‘The Oceans and Human Health’ by Lora Flemming et al. on the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science
From food to travel, humans have always depended on the ocean for survival and prosperity. Recently, a growing body of evidence is beginning to uncover a direct link between the health of humanity and that of the ocean. Is there a way to promote human health and well-being through sustainable interactions with the coasts and oceans, such as the restoration and preservation of coastal and marine ecosystems?
‘Incorporating Historical Perspectives into Systematic Marine Conservation Planning’ by John N. Kittinger et al. in Marine Historical Ecology in Conservation
By its very nature, environmental conservation looks to the future. Yet lessons can be learnt from history. In this chapter, the authors of Marine Historical Ecology in Conservation outline the many lessons ocean conservation efforts can take from the past.
Featured image credit: ‘Waves and Ocean’. Public Domain via Public Domain Pictures.