For the Love of the Ocean
This week as part of the Seas The Day series we ask.. Ever wondered why we do what we do? I present to you just one of the many reasons and hopefully, it will inspire you.
What do you search for?
Why does man search for place? What is it in our soul that drives us outside – to the mountains, to the forest, to the sea? Is it a sense of wonder or a search for oneness? Do we see our bones reflected in the rocks, weathered and worn into pillars and mounds by time and salt spray? Or perhaps we feel a tug from our mostly-water body to be alongside, or in, another water body.
My love of rocky shorelines
I love rocky shorelines for many reasons, caves and crevices exist in that in-between space that is the intertidal, and pools fill with organisms each trying to find their place in this world. Even down to the sub-tidal plains in the surge, rocky shores are characterised by energy, and energy means life. Lots of it. Competition abounds, niches are established, refuge exploited. Predators patrol constantly, day shift replaced by night. Swimming, darting, crawling, scuttling, waving, weaving, and bobbing – if you want to eat and not be eaten, this is how you have to move.
The quartzite rock on the coast and beneath the waves is relentlessly moulded and shaped by pounding, running, and streaming water. These forces that build towers and break them down also shape boulders and empty into rivulets, adding to the complexity of the habitat, and thereby creating more places for even more things to live, and hide, and thrive.
The ocean has always been a place of beauty and solace for me – and more recently – a place of work. We head out early, always at first light, and greet the day through our lens of salt spray, equipment, bleary eyes, and the occasional anti-nausea drug. It seems ironic to think, that by choice, some of us work in an environment that makes us sick to our stomachs – literally.
What are we looking for?
We are here to document. To count. To quantify, and to measure, and to collect, and to take scribbled, smudged, salty, notes on a constantly shifting deck. We work best on calm, clear days; days filled with sunshine and no wind, and those days are joyful and light. But not all days are light - sometimes we work on an angry sea that can be cold, windy, and unforgiving, and those days are bitter and long.
We are here for the data that divides our world into bits of information about what lives where, and how many there are, and what a healthy, thriving community looks like; because it may change at any moment, because what good is a record of what something DOES look like, if there is nothing to tell what it SHOULD look like?
And so, here we are, in a race against time, to catalogue a piece of OUR history. The history that began when we emerged from the sea, filled with the life that the ocean continues to provide. How do we give weight to my childhood holidays, how do we quantify the beat of my heart as the waves batter the coast? How do we measure the worth of life under and in a piece of the ocean? What value does an untouched system have besides what we can take out of it? What is the magic number to be counted? Why should we want to keep a piece of this world apart?
The worth of simple existence
Maybe so that we can see into the past in order to better our future. Maybe because a cure for illness lies hidden beneath the waves. Maybe because there are organisms yet to be found, yet to be counted, yet to be NAMED.
Maybe, after all the numbers, and the counting, and evaluating, there does exist a powerful enough reason to preserve anything. Do you know that reason? I do. It’s LOVE.