Sunday, February 22, 2009

who cares?

mood: more bewilderment and head-shaking
is the human brain big enough to save one of the most intelligent creatures? greenpeace asks cynically in an add, aiming at banning whaling amongst other ocean related concerns.

when i mention i'm vegetarian in restaurants, a frequent response is to point me in the direction of the fish...

greenpeace campaign

fact i: the ocean is humanities last frontier of ignorance
  • 72% of earth's surface covered by sea
  • 97% of the ocean is unexplored
  • with one yearly NASA budget, the exploration program of NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) could be funded for 1600 years
  • largest mountain range covering 23% of earth's surface area underwater (visited for the 1st time after the moon in 1973)
  • coral reefs still unexplored between 60 and 150 meters
  • there are better maps of mars than the 50% of total US territory which lies under the sea
  • most of the southern hemisphere's underwater terrain is unexplored (more exploration ships in that region during captain cook's times than today)
  • the seabed is harboring countless well preserved archaeological artifacts
  • underwater hot springs are basically commercial grade heavy metals deposits
  • underwater volcanoes are emitting methane
fact ii: the oceans are teeming with life
  • although most of the ocean does not get exposed to photons from the sun, and hence there is no photosynthesis, it is completely erroneous to not expect life
  • the antarctic sea is, unexpectedly and only recently discovered, teeming with marine life
  • hydrothermal vent systems are islands of life
  • bacteria replicating photosynthesis in the dark by chemosynthesis where accidental discovery as no one ever predicted their existence
  • resilient bacteria living in ph 11 environments
  • 7 new species found per hour of deep reef exploration
  • 2000 to 2500 estimated new species in the indo-pacific ocean alone (vs. 5000-6000 known species)
  • not only new species are still being discovered, but also new behavior and new ecology
  • amazing variety of bioluminescent animals
fact iii: the seas are being destroyed at breakneck speed
  • 90% of all big fish have disappeared in the last 100 years
  • 50% of all coral reefs are destroyed
  • for 1kg of fish ending up in a market, at least 10kg of bycatch was killed and thrown away
  • 1.7% of the blue whale population is remaining
  • 10% of the tuna fish population is remaining
  • commercial trawlers are forced to access ever deeper seabed due to the depletion of fisheries; this completely destroys potential habitats which are totally unexplored and eradicates possibly unknown species
  • throwaway plastic accumulating in the sea (half of the 100 billion pounds of plastic pellets a year are made into throwaway plastic produces of which a large fraction ends up in the sea)
  • 100000 albatross chicks in remote habitats dying from stomachs filled with plastic trash
  • some ocean water samples contain more plastic than plankton
  • plastic debris concentrate pollutants and become "poison pills"
  • these are been eaten by many fish at the bottom of the food chain
  • gigantic garbage patches in the pacific and atlantic

Sylvia Earle's moving (and prizewinning) TED talk:

Robert Ballard: Exploring the ocean's hidden worlds

Captain Charles Moore on the seas of plastic

Richard Pyle: Exploring the reef's Twilight Zone

David Gallo fascinating TED talk:

update 20.04.2010:
Edith Widder: Glowing life in an underwater world

update 05.05.2010:

update 02.06.2010:
Brian Skerry reveals ocean's glory -- and horror

update june 30th 2010:

update july 12 2010:

update july 27 2010:


jbg said...


july 28, 2008: The Largest 'Landfill' On Earth; the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

june 9, 2009: What is the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch?

june 25, 2009: One-Third of Sharks Could Go Extinct

jbg said...


july 27, 2009: Scientists Find a Microbe Haven at Ocean’s Surface; ny times article

jbg said...

nov 22, 2009: Thousands of Strange Sea Creatures Discovered

jbg said... the lawyer who defends animals

jbg said...

New Species of Worm Found in Great Barrier Reef

jbg said...

national geographic: vampire squid turns itself "inside out"

jbg said...

New Species of Worm Found in Great Barrier Reef

jbg said...

Sushi-cide: Secret ballot kills hopes for bluefin tuna protections
[...] but all hopes to save the critically endangered bluefin tuna were sunk in a secret ballot that put commerce ahead of science and conservation.

jbg said...

We’re building the world’s first regional-scale underwater ocean observatory that plugs directly into the Internet.

jbg said...

beached whale's stomach found to be full of fresh trash

Sweatpants. A golf ball. Surgical gloves. Small towels. Bits of plastic. And more than 20 plastic bags.

In 20 years of examining more than 200 whale carcasses, research scientist John Calambokidis says Tuesday he has never seen so much trash in a whale's stomach.

jbg said...

Roz Savage: Why I'm rowing across the Pacific

jbg said...

Overfishing began with the Victorians
HOPES that short-term cuts in fishing will quickly replenish Europe's fish stocks are likely to be dashed - because overfishing goes back to the Victorians.

new scientist, 05 May 2010

jbg said...

Mysterious Mountains Hidden Beneath Antarctic Ice Revealed

The first detailed pictures of one of the planet's last unexplored frontiers — a vast mountain range that rivals the Alps in majesty buried underneath the ice of Antarctica [...].

LiveScience 10 June 2010

jbg said...

'Largest Biological Reservoir' Discovered Below Seafloor

The crust located beneath the ocean floor is the site of what could possibly be the Earth's largest biological reservoir, where scientists have discovered marine microbes thriving in harsh environments without any sunlight.

LiveScience 14 June 2010

jbg said... Deep Seafloor Surprisingly Alive, Discoveries Reveal

Scientists from the United Kingdom and 16 other nations have just returned from an expedition to explore a never-before-seen area of the ocean floor. Instead of the barren, sparsely inhabited environment some expected to see, scientists brought back pictures of a mysterious world that is teeming with life.

jbg said...

Paul made his uncanny predictions for each game by choosing a mussel from one of two jars bearing the flags of World Cup opponents.

jbg said...

Oceans in Peril: Primed for Mass Extinction?

What Will Happen During the Next 100 Days of the Oil Spill?

jbg said...

Ocean Life Gets Its Own, Enormous Who's Who

The most comprehensive list ever of species that live in the planet's oceans was released Monday, near the end of a worldwide, decade-long effort to catalog the denizens of the seas

"On average, across all these regions, experts estimated for every species on the list there are three, perhaps four they didn't have on the list," O'Dor told OurAmazingPlanet. "The magnitude of our ignorance is kind of shocking."

By examining centuries' worth of data, researchers showed the sea's inhabitants are dwindling. The study has named three main culprits behind the disappearance, chief among them widespread overfishing, which is removing entire species from the water. Second on the list was habitat loss due to everything from urbanization of coastlines and trawling of coral reefs to pollution — O'Dor cited the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as an example. Finally, temperature change also was listed as having an impact on the ocean environment.

jbg said...

Hydrogen bombshell: Rewriting life's history

Oxygen is supposed to have driven the evolution of complex life – but the discovery of animals that thrive without it tells a different story

jbg said...

A Decade of Discovery: Consensus of marine life

jbg said...

Census shows connectedness of world's marine life

But what scientists learned was more than a number or a count. It was a sense of how closely life connects from one place to another and one species to another.

"We didn't know so much about the deep sea...," Arbizu said. "We believe now that the deep sea is more connected, also the different oceans, than we previously thought."

The census found another more basic connection in the genetic blueprint of life. Just as chimps and humans share more than 95 percent of their DNA, the species of the oceans have most of their DNA in common, too.