This book grew out of a TED wish presented by the legendary Sylvia A. Earl. It’s one of my favorite books, and full of mind blowing facts about the ocean, and many reasons why everyone on earth should care about it. This is just a sample of the quotes and facts that blew my mind:
1. “Even if you have never have the chance to see or touch the ocean, the ocean touches you with every breath you take, every drop of water you drink, every bite you consume. Everyone, everywhere is inextricably connected to and utterly dependent upon the existence of the sea.”
2. Less than five percent of the ocean has been explored, and only one percent has been protected.
3. 20% of the oxygen in earth’s atmosphere, or one in five breaths, has been produced by one type of water dwelling blue green bacteria with the unfortunate name prochlorococcus.
4. Aside from seafood, we regularly use a variety of ocean products in our everyday lives. A thickener derived from a single species of Kelp can be found in sauces, cheese, ice cream, pudding, chocolate milk, candy, toothpaste, those weird tooth impressions they make at the dentist’s office, lotion, tape, and hundreds of other products.
5. Fish populations are plummeting on a planet where one of seven people rely on ocean caught fish as their primary source of protein.
6. “We can shift our trash, move it, cover it up, toss it into the sea, and turn our back, but everything connects. There is no “away” to throw to.”
7. The top ten categories of marine trash are: cigarette butts, plastic bags, food containers, caps and lids, plastic botles, paper bags, straws and stirrers, cups plates and eating utensils, glass bottles, and beverage cans. These account for 83 percent of the trash found in the ocean.
8. A 1999 expedition to the Pacific Gyre found that trash outweighed plankton six to one.
9. “That same year, on a reef in the Coral Sea, I swam in a milling circle of more than a hundred gray reef sharks, feeling much safer than I do while driving on a freeway with cars heading in my direction at high speed, separated only by a line of yellow paint and a mutual desire to live.”
10. Before human impacts started affecting them, oysters managed to filter and clean all the water contained in New York Harbor every few days. The Chesapeake Bay was filtered every 24 hours.
11. “Their present precarious state makes eating bluefin tuna comparable to dining on snow leopard or panda.”
12. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that millions of tons of fish and invertebrates are caught and then discarded as bycatch every year.
13. Most United State Marine Sanctuaries still allow for commercial and sport fishing. Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii was the first and largest Marine Protected Areas in the world to ban fishing, and was created with a great deal of political support from (get this) George W. Bush.
14. Given how much of the ocean has yet to be explored or even seen by human eyes, we have no idea how many ocean species there are. Conservative estimates put the number at around ten million.
15. Loss of biodiversity in the ocean impacts its ability to provide food, and maintain water quality. One study found that restoring biodiversity increased it’s productivity by 400 percent.
16. Half of the worlds coral reefs have disappeared or are in sharp decline.
17. “Our near and distant predecessors might be forgiven for exterminating the last wooly mammoth, the ultimate dodo, the final sea cow, and the last living monk seal for lack of understanding the consequences of their actions. But who will forgive us if we fail to learn from past and present expriences, to forge new values, new relationships, a new level of respect for the natural systems that keep us alive?”
18. The ocean absorbs more than 22 million tons of CO2 daily. Unfortunately a large portion of the absorbed carbon turns into carbonic acid, which increases the acidity of the ocean, and has a huge impact on coral reefs.
19. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Even if green house gas emissions are halted at their present levels we can expect an ice-free summer in the arctic by 2040.
20. “In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy.”
P.S. With the exception of the cover image the photos are my own and are of tide pools and mussels at Pillar Point Harbor, a sea star at County Line Beach, Malibu Point Reyes National Seashore, and the Indra’s Net exhibit at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.