Threats to Our Oceans

Thomas Morris

I feel like I’m preaching to the choir here, but do we actually know what the biggest threats to our oceans are? I’d like to take you through all of them over the next 5 weeks, discussing what the main issues are and how you and I can make small adjustments to our lives to make a difference.

Fact: Our Oceans covers 70% of the planet’s surface

Photo: Millie Rose

Photo: Millie Rose

This environment is one of the most compelling, mysterious and dangerous places on earth. It is unpredictable, holds the majority of our biodiversity and is where everything came from. We depend on it for the oxygen we breathe, the food we eat, the climate that makes this rock habitable. It provides services to the planet that we are only beginning to unearth. We know so little about this vast expanse. But one thing we do know, it’s in trouble.

Ever since the divergence of the ‘homo’ genus nearly 2 million years ago, this animal has utilized its surroundings with little regard for its consequences. The early forms were hunter gatherer’s and had the ability to manipulate fire. It is this small skill that is touted as our success above all other beasts of the world. With this skill, began our very quick evolution to being a better, more efficient species and resulted in our expansion around the world. Following this expansion is destruction, extinction, and very little consideration for our foot print.

The divergence of the Homo genus has created an entire geological epoch, the Anthropocene. An epoch characterized by the impact of Homo sapiens on land use, ecosystems, biodiversity, and species extinction. Scientists are still sitting around the table to determine exactly when this epoch started (at the agricultiural revolution, industrial revolution, or when the first nuclear bomb test occurred) as it’s difficult to know when we started having the greatest impact on this planet.

Photo: Millie Rose

Photo: Millie Rose

So, why did I just give you this history lesson? To be honest, to show you that destruction is in our very nature. This has been happening for centuries. Even before we knew we were doing it. We have been impacting this planet negatively even before the current iteration of the homo genus was around. It’s in our DNA. It’s part of our very being. And it demonstrates the absolute complexity surrounding environmental issues and trying to illicit change in the behaviour of our fellow Homo sapiens … it’s just not in us.

Or is it?

Over the next 5 weeks I’d like to address the 5 main threats to our oceans: pollution, habitat destruction, over fishing, warming and acidification. I’m going to do this by speaking to experts about these issues, finding out some of the work they are doing to understand these impacts and see if they have any insight into how you and I can make a difference. I’m going to speak about my personal experiences in my role as a marine biologist, speak to the people I have had the pleasure of meeting and hopefully provide something that I think is key to conservation initiatives worldwide: Awareness.

Photo: Millie Rose

Photo: Millie Rose

I look forward to going through this journey with you, and I hope the advice these pieces provide can inspire change.


Rising Tides is a series focussing on the current threats facing our ocean, how these are being tackled and what you can do to help

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