The Beauty Of Marine Life
“I would love for people far away to feel the presence of the ocean—to feel every drop—and to really create their own connections,” said marine photographer Michaela Skovranova on the occasion of World Oceans Day. Her photographs beam of a rare, sublime energy that the oceans and all that it holds emit. In a time where the Marine Health has moved from a prospect garbage patch in 2007 to a number of whale carcasses with a gutful of plastic being washed ashore, Skovranova’s photographs are the eyes underwater. The magnificence that the raw life of the ocean delivers through her collection is a sign that there is still time for all of us to do our part in saving the blue heart of our planet. But first, let us have a look at how this blue heart has been saving us all this time.
The Blue Heart
Oceans serve as natural carbon sink of the planet. The primary producers of the marine food chain like Phytoplankton and Seaweed ceaselessly consume all the carbon emissions to make their food. In the process, they absorb at least one-third of the Carbon Dioxide produced by human activities and release into the atmosphere more than 60% of the Oxygen for all. While it all sounds like a fairy tale, it comes at a big cost. The absorption of too much carbon acidifies water which dissolves structures made of Calcium Carbonate. And this puts shellfish and coral reefs at a major risk. Coral reefs, as we all know, are already shrinking, and so are shrinking the ecosystems of a number of marine species like Clownfish, Sponges, Eel, etc. that are dependent on them.
The oceans, I believe, are not only the blue heart but also a big blue womb of this planet; a womb with over 230,000 unique species thriving in it. And 230,000 is all that’s been discovered yet. We know the surface of Mars better than we know the depths of our oceans and hence we are far from having come across as many as two million more species that inhabit the hidden depths and crevices of the big blue. And frankly, just like the known ones depleting in numbers, I fear these will cease to exist before even being discovered.
The reasons being:
Floating pieces of poorly dumped food packaging that looks like a jellyfish will get ingested by a Leatherback Turtle and choke him to death. The Filter Feeders like whales will assume floating debris to be a batch of krill. And more of these marine wonders, having filled themselves with plastic, will starve, die and be washed ashore. From a garbage patch, the size of Texas in the Pacific Gyre in 2007, to one denser and 10 times that size currently haunts the oceans. The blue is filled with everything from a bottle cap to a ghost net and abandoned plastic tanks. The man-made havoc has ironically reached the bottom that remains far from the man’s reach. And the worst thing is it is in the food chain. Microplastic, the worst of all, gets ingested by sponges and krill, and find their ways into the food chain and eventually cause toxic mutations. These will be eaten by the bigger fish that follow them in the food chain. And guess who else eats fish?
Another reason why every nation should switch to Organic Farming is the excessive use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers. The soil from these farms laden with Carbon, Phosphorus, Nitrogen and other minerals when enters the water bodies, booms the growth of Phytoplankton and fleshy algae. While phytoplankton and algae contribute big amounts of Oxygen through Photosynthesis during the day, they flush away a lot of it at night, completely depriving the rest of the aquatic organisms of it. Imagine a whole water body covered with the bloom and imagine the number of species it would suffocate to death. Sewage with traces of synthetic soaps and detergents causes algal bloom too. The only way to arrest this is going organic in every aspect of life.
Industrial And Urban Effluence:
A major industrial pollutant and a mining residue, Copper hinders the growth of Coral Polyps. Marine invertebrates, Polyps are the building blocks of Coral reefs. The dissolution of the brilliant ecosystem that these reefs are, poses an imminent danger to a lot of marine species that find their home and safety in these structures. They wouldn’t spawn, the ones that remain will be vulnerable to predators and naturally, the population will dwindle and shrink away. Most of the toxins released into the oceans as industrial or urban waste affect densely even in low concentrations. They get accumulated in the organisms and again become a part of their food chain and genetics. Mutations are unavoidable and we can barely predict what an organism with high concentrations of DDT or Mercury or Lead would produce after a few generations of this bioaccumulation. I mean just imagine.
And then there is
Oil spills are a sad reality and we cannot deny that they happen regularly. From the major oil spills of all times to unchecked, unmonitored discharge of cargo residues, everything stays in the water, hard to detect, impossible to clean and forever to impact the big blue. Shipping not only causes the crude pollution but is a major contributor to noise pollution too. The marine environment is ambient with the acoustics of this environment playing a major part in communication between the organisms.
“You can truly see how complex these creatures are: they talk to each other, they love, they cry, and they sing, just like we do,” says Skovranova and I wonder how loud and louder they’d have to try to be hard with all those ships and boats whirring and drumming around them.
Deep Water Mining:
Yes, it is happening. While we were only sitting to wonder how to reverse our impacts of mining on land, the International Seabed Authority has given an ‘okay’ to about a dozen companies to explore minerals and metals in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The twilight zone of the oceans, the bottom, which I believe no one has seen, is up for sale already. And I’d only leave it up to you to figure what harm it could bring to the blue. Think drones, robots, more crude, possible wars and think deaths. Think lots of deaths.
While I have chosen not to mention overfishing and overexploitation because it is as obvious like the problem with plastic, it is important to note that most of the things that I’ve mentioned are things that we already know about. My only question is, when do we act? Do we wait till we kill all the species underwater that exist, including the ones that haven’t been discovered? Or have we already decided that none of this is our problem, our fault and that it only of the beautiful ones floating about the ocean, completely unaware why they get strangled and suffocated by ghost nets that have already baited and killed so many?