Life Below Water

Life Below Water

The ocean occupies over 70% of the planet’s surface, yet 95% of these underwater realms remain unexplored. Within the global seas lies a breadth of biodiversity we have yet to fully grasp. Life below water faces increasing pressures even as new species continue being discovered. To protect our shared marine heritage, we must first seek to understand it. This World Oceans Day, let us reflect on how much we still have to learn about the wonders of the deep.

II. Importance of Ocean Life

Provides majority of oxygen

Though the oceans occupy over 70% of Earth’s surface, they generate over 50% of atmospheric oxygen through marine plants and phytoplankton. This makes life in the seas essential for every breath we take.

Stabilizes climate and weather

Oceans drive climate and weather patterns, absorb greenhouse gases, and store heat. Disrupting ocean ecosystems could drastically alter rains and temperatures worldwide.

Supports human nutrition

Fisheries provide protein for billions globally. Keeping stocks sustainable is crucial for food security, livelihoods, and human wellbeing.

Maintains valuable genetic resources

The ocean contains a huge diversity of life that could offer medical and biotechnology solutions. Much remains undiscovered.

Provides recreation, inspiration, economies

Humans derive meaning, experiences, livelihoods and more from oceanscapes. Protecting living oceans protects our own spirit.

III. Threats to Ocean Life

Climate change and ocean warming

Rising temperatures, acidification and deoxygenation threaten entire habitats like coral reefs and kelp forests.

Ocean acidification

Increased CO2 absorption makes waters corrosive, dissolving shells and reef structures.

Overfishing and bycatch

Removing top predators imbalances ecosystems. Bycatch causes unsustainable waste.

Pollution

Plastics, chemicals, excess nutrients, and more accumulate, poisoning marine life.

Habitat loss

Coastal development, destructive fishing, and climate change damage fragile nurseries.

Noise, light, and microplastic

Noise and artificial light disrupt animal behavior and health. Microplastics infiltrate food webs.

Invasive species

Invasives outcompete native species and alter ecosystems. Ballast water transfers species globally.

IV. Solutions and Protection

Establish marine protected areas

Designating no-take zones allows biodiversity to rebound and spread.

Sustainable fishing

Science-based quotas, gear changes, and protections help fisheries endure.

Reduce consumer waste

Cutting single-use plastics and responsibly disposing of trash prevents ocean pollution.

Improve water quality

Restoring wetlands, enhancing wastewater treatment, and reducing agricultural runoff improves coastal water health.

Enact climate policies

Shifting energy systems away from fossil fuels can curb the root causes of ocean climate change.

Expand renewable energy

Increasing clean energy reduces pressure for risky deep sea mining of resources.

Increase public engagement

Education, experiential programs, and community science foster caring action.

V. Wonders Yet to Be Discovered

Despite centuries of ocean exploration, less than 5% of the global ocean has been directly studied. New species are constantly identified, even large animals. The deep sea remains an almost completely unknown frontier. The biodiversity still undiscovered could provide many benefits to humankind. What amazing creatures might we still find in uncharted waters?

VI. Hope for the Future

Recent conservation successes give optimism that with care, the ocean can rebound. Public concern has spurred positive policy changes. Sustainability advances provide better tools for stewardship.

Tradition indigenous knowledge offers wisdom. Although many problems exist, protecting ocean health is possible if humanity works collectively with compassion and innovation.

What percentage of all life on Earth exists in the ocean?

Approximately 80% of life on Earth is found under the ocean’s surface. This watery part of our planet contains a hugely diverse web of marine species ranging from microscopic plankton to enormous whales.

Though the ocean is mostly unexplored, we’ve identified over 2 million species so far, with millions more likely remaining undiscovered in the depths. Protecting this global cradle of biodiversity is essential for the flourishing of life everywhere.

2. How many marine species have been described so far and how many likely remain unknown?

So far scientists have formally described about 250,000 species living in our oceans. But estimates suggest the total number could be up to 2 million or more. Less than 20% of the seafloor has been mapped and explored. New species are constantly being found even among relatively familiar groups like fish, sharks, squid, and corals.

The census of ocean life remains a vast unfinished task given the scale and remoteness of the seas. Documenting Earth’s marine biodiversity is key to understanding and sustaining ocean ecosystems.

3. What is the longest animal living in the ocean?

The lion’s mane jellyfish has the longest known length of any ocean species, with tentacles that extend up to 120 feet (36 meters) or more. That’s even longer than a blue whale! The lion’s mane inhabits cold waters throughout the Arctic, northern Atlantic, and northern Pacific Oceans.

It uses its many lengthy tentacles to capture prey like fish and plankton. While not considered particularly dangerous, their stings can cause reactions in humans. Their great length makes lion’s mane jellyfish truly gargantuan drifters of the sea.

4. Which marine mammal travels the farthest annual migration?

The gray whale migrates over 10,000 miles (16,000 km) round trip each year, the longest migration of any mammal on Earth. Gray whales feed in cold northern waters then migrate south to breed in warm lagoons of Baja California and the Gulf of California from late fall through early spring.

Mothers make the lengthy trip while pregnant, then return north with their new calves. Their epic travels along the Pacific coast take them through many perils from ship collisions and pollution to entanglement in fishing gear.

5. How many species of fish are estimated to live in the deep sea below 200 meters?

Scientists estimate that deep sea habitats below 200 meters may be home to over two million species of fish. The deep sea covers 65% of the planet yet remains largely unexplored. New fish species are constantly discovered even in relatively well-studied groups like snailfish, eels, lanternfish and anglerfish.

Future submersible exploration of extreme deep sea trenches may reveal even more unknown species adapted to intense cold and pressures. Protecting the biodiversity of the poorly understood deep ocean remains a great challenge.

6. Which family of marine mammals possesses the largest brain to body ratio?

The Delphinidae family of marine mammals, including dolphins, killer whales, and pilot whales, possess the largest brain to body mass ratios of any animals. For example, bottlenose dolphin brains are 25% heavier than human brains relative to size.

These big brains allow advanced cognition and social complexity. Dolphins have self-awareness, problem solving skills, cultural transmission of tool use, and intricate communication abilities that reveal an intelligence approaching our own. Understanding cetacean mental abilities compels us to rethink how we treat Earth’s other intelligent ocean inhabitants.

7. What is the oldest known age reached by a Greenland shark?

Greenland sharks have been estimated to live over 400 years, the oldest known lifespan of all vertebrate animals. These ancient sharks inhabit deep, cold waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. They only grow about 1 centimeter per year and don’t reach sexual maturity until about 150 years old.

Their longevity and slow growth are adaptations to frigid, low-productivity environments. Losing such long-lived marine species represents an incalculable depletion of biodiversity and life experience that should humble us as relative newcomers on Earth.

8. How many hearts does an octopus have?

Unlike us, octopuses evolved to have three hearts. Two pump blood to the gills, while a larger central heart circulates oxygenated blood throughout the body. Octopus blood uses hemocyanin, a copper-rich protein, to transport oxygen instead of the iron-based hemoglobin found in humans.

This blood appears blue rather than red. Multiple hearts and blue blood are just two of the many strange and fascinating evolutionary adaptations that set octopuses apart as remarkable denizens of the ocean.

9. Which sea creature has blood that is colorless?

Sea cucumbers are echinoderms that have colorless or pale yellow blood plasma instead of red blood cells like humans. Their circulatory system transports nutrients through this watery fluid called haemolymph rather than hemoglobin-rich blood.

Sea cucumber haemolymph also contains cell fragments called coelomocytes that help fight pathogens. Corals, molluscs and arthropods likewise have colorless or pale blood, often containing different respiratory pigments better suited to life in the sea.

10. What enables hydrothermal vent tube worms to survive without sunlight?

Giant tube worms discovered at deep sea hydrothermal vents thrive in total darkness through chemosynthesis with symbiotic bacteria instead of photosynthesis. These strange worms lack mouths or guts.

But bacteria living within their bodies can synthesize organic compounds using energy from vent chemicals like hydrogen sulfide. This chemosynthetic ability enables ecosystems at vents that survive independently of sunlight, expanding our notions of where and how life can persist on Earth.

11. How does the pistol shrimp create a loud snapping sound to stun prey?

The pistol shrimp generates a loud snap, reaching over 200 decibels, by closing its enlarged claw rapidly. This creates a high-pressure jet of water that vapor cavities form in. As these cavities collapse, they emit a sharp snap.

The resulting shockwave can stun, paralyze or even kill small fish while leaving the shrimp unharmed in its hard exoskeleton burrow. It allows the shrimp to safely capture prey as large as itself with this ingenious use of bubbly physics.

12. At what ocean depth have researchers found plastic pollution?

Plastic pollution has been detected in the deepest parts of the ocean. Plastic debris on the seafloor has been observed by submersibles diving to depths over 6.8 miles (11 km) in the Mariana Trench.

Tiny microplastic fibers have also been found concentrated in deep sea sediments thousands of meters down globally based on core samples. There appears to be nowhere pristine left, as our waste permeates into the furthest reaches of the sea. This ubiquity underscores the need for dramatic plastic use reduction.

13. Where on Earth does the largest daily migration of marine animals occur?

The largest daily migration happens vertically in the ocean as creatures move up and down through different depths. Trillions of marine animals, primarily zooplankton, migrate on a daily cycle, staying deeper during daytime to avoid predators, then rising to feed in shallow waters at night before descending again before dawn.

Species involved range from copepods to jellyfish to lanternfish. This huge community migration, involving the largest numbers of migrating animals on Earth, happens across the global ocean.

14. What adaptations help deep sea anglerfish find mates in total darkness?

In deep oceans, tiny male anglerfish have excellent scent organs to locate females by tracking pheromone cues, even in complete darkness. Once a male finds a female, he latches onto her with his sharp teeth, eventually fusing his mouth to her skin to become permanently parasitic.

This evolutionary adaptation provides reliable access to the female for mating in an environment where finding a partner is otherwise nearly impossible.

15. How does the leafy sea dragon camouflage itself?

The leafy sea dragon uses extensive camouflage to hide against seaweed in its southern Australian habitat. Its entire body is covered in leaf-like protrusions that act as camouflage while swaying amidst kelp and seaweed where it lives.

The leafy sea dragon’s shape, coloring, and patterns precisely match the surrounding algae, allowing it to disappear against this backdrop. Such masterful disguise protects the dragon from visual predators like larger fish that inhabit the same kelp beds.

16. What allows the albatross to travel huge distances while expending little energy?

Albatrosses exploit wind patterns to travel over 500 miles in a single day without flapping their wings much. They use a strategy called dynamic soaring, angling their wings to catch fast moving air near the ocean surface, then swooping up into slower winds, generating lift for “free” gliding.

This allows them to harvest wind energy gradients for fuel. Mastering this skill has allowed albatrosses to evolve as the ocean’s farthest ranging seabirds.

17. What material comprises a shark’s skeleton?

Sharks have cartilaginous skeletons rather than bones. Their cartilage is flexible, less dense, and lighter than true bone. Sharks’ jaws are also not fused together, allowing great biting strength. Large livers provide buoyancy.

Sharks continually regenerate teeth lost while feeding. Having a supple, lightweight cartilage skeleton makes sharks swift, efficient swimmers, though it fossilizes poorly compared to bony fish. Over 500 species have adapted this successful anatomy over hundreds of millions of years.

18. Which polar sea likely contains more fish species than tropical waters?

The waters around Antarctica are estimated to contain over 235 unique species of bony subtropical fish alone. This species count is greater than many tropical waters like the Caribbean. The long isolation and varying conditions around Antarctica led to high speciation as fish evolved to fill ecological niches.

Unique adaptations like antifreeze proteins allow them to thrive in frigid waters. The diversity of Antarctic marine life remains poorly characterized and highly vulnerable to modern climate change.

19. How does the cone snail immobilize prey and defend itself?

Cone snails harpoon prey using a venomous barbed tooth loaded into a specialized proboscis to immobilize fish. This venom is powerfully neurotoxic, one of the deadliest in the animal kingdom.

It contains components called conotoxins that block nerve signaling, paralyzing victims almost instantly. If threatened, cone snails can also deploy this venom in self-defense. A single drop has enough toxin to kill an adult human, making them one of the ocean’s most dangerous creatures.

20. What is the largest fish and what does it eat?

The whale shark is by far the largest fish, reaching sizes over 40 feet (12 m) and weighing up to 20 tons. But despite their colossal size, whale sharks eat only tiny plankton and small fish.

They are filter feeders, swimming with huge open mouths to catch krill, plankton and fish eggs floating in the water. Though not dangerous to humans, these gentle ocean giants are at risk from ship strikes and getting entangled in fishing nets. Their docile nature in the face of threats should inspire our compassion.

21. What contributed to the recent extinction of the baiji or Chinese river dolphin?

The baiji was a species of river dolphin endemic to China’s Yangtze River. But industrial fishing activity, ship propellers, noise pollution, dam construction, and habitat degradation caused its populations to dwindle until the baiji was declared functionally extinct in the early 2000s.

Efforts to save them were too little too late for one of Earth’s only freshwater dolphins. Their tragic demise illustrates how easily our actions can destroy unique life forever if we act without proper foresight.

22. How do coral polyps create enormous reef structures?

Coral polyps are tiny invertebrates only a few millimeters wide. But they secrete external skeletons of calcium carbonate. Over successive generations, each generation of coral polyps builds atop the skeletal remains of previous colonies that settle on the same spot.

This continuous building by microscopic polyps over hundreds to thousands of years eventually creates massive coral reef frameworks up to several kilometers long. Protecting these living limestone structures means preserving not just present polyps but the legacy of their ancestors.

23. Why are krill considered crucial to ocean food webs?

Krill are small, shrimp-like planktonic crustaceans that inhabit all the world’s oceans in enormous numbers. Though only about 6 cm long, krill may constitute the largest total biomass of any individual animal species in the planet.

They are a vital food source for fish, penguins, whales, seabirds and more. Protecting productive krill populations helps support entire marine food chains, from the tiniest fish to the largest whales. Their abundance makes krill keystone species in ocean ecosystems.

24. Which fish can change sex during their lives?

Many wrasses and parrotfish exhibit sequential hermaphroditism, starting female then changing to male later in life. For example, California sheephead wrasse start as females then become males.

This improves mating opportunities in harem-based species where few larger males dominate. If the lead male dies, the largest female converts into a fertile male, ensuring future breeding by making more males available to mate with the remaining females.

25. How do sea otters keep from drifting apart while sleeping?

Sea otters often wrap themselves in giant kelp fronds while sleeping at the ocean’s surface to avoid drifting. But they also hold hands in large groups called rafts. Mothers hold pups. Sea otters will interlock paws in huge rings of up to 100 individuals.

This hand holding behavior is extremely rare among marine mammals and showcases both their intelligence and strong social bonds. It also reveals an adaptation to living fully aquatic lives.

26. What environmental factors threaten phytoplankton growth?

Major threats to phytoplankton include warming seas, ocean acidification, nutrient runoff and pollution. Increased temperatures and CO2 absorption lower surface water pH levels, making it difficult for phytoplankton to form calcium carbonate shells.

Nutrient imbalances from fertilizer runoff create algal blooms then dead zones. Pesticides poison plankton. Loss of phytoplankton cripples ocean food chains and oxygen production needed by all life.

27. How does the relationship between clownfish and sea anemones benefit both species?

Clownfish and certain sea anemones share a mutualistic relationship. The anemone’s stinging tentacles protect clownfish from predators. In return, clownfish defend anemones from predators like butterflyfish that eat tentacles.

Clownfish mucus coats appear to provide some immunity to otherwise deadly anemone stings. Both partners gain security through this interdependent pairing that illustrates symbiotic coevolution between species.

28. What unique estuary habitats are vital nurseries for ocean life?

Estuaries form where rivers meet the sea, creating brackish water gradients that provide vital nurseries for many marine and terrestrial organisms. Their shelter, sedimentation and nutrient mixing allow sea grasses, marshes and mangroves to thrive.

These in turn nurture juvenile fish, crab, shrimp and shellfish populations. Pollution threatens these fragile but highly productive buffers between land and ocean. Preserving estuaries secures the future of many commercially important ocean species.

29. How deep can a sperm whale dive and for how long can it hold its breath?

Sperm whales are the deepest diving mammals, capable of plunging over 3,000 feet (1,000 m) and holding their breath for over an hour while hunting squid in lightless depths. Their large head houses a spermaceti organ that assists with echolocation and buoyancy.

But much remains unknown about the extreme diving physiology and behavior of these ocean giants. They inhabit a twilight realm virtually unexplored by humans, yet face modern threats like entanglement in cables and ingesting ocean plastic.

30. What medical value does horseshoe crab blood provide?

Horseshoe crab blood contains amebocytes that coagulate and react when exposed to bacterial endotoxins, even in minute amounts. This makes it exceptionally sensitive for detecting contamination in drugs and medical equipment.

As a result, their copper-rich blood is harvested by the biomedical industry to test sterility, with about 30% of a crab’s blood drawn during the process. No fully synthetic substitute yet exists for crab blood’s reliability down to parts per trillion sensitivity.

31. Why is the North Atlantic right whale endangered?

North Atlantic right whales are critically endangered, with only about 350 individuals left. Their two primary threats are ship strikes and entanglement in commercial fishing gear, mainly lobster and crab pot lines.

Right whales migrate along the eastern US and Canada coasts, a busy maritime area. Over 85% have scars from entanglement and some drown from buoy lines wrapping their mouths shut. Further protections are needed for their migration routes and calving grounds in order to save these whales.

32. What threats do sea turtles face globally?

All seven sea turtle species face multiple threats, including: plastics ingestion, commercial fishing bycatch, poaching of eggs and adults, nesting beach loss from development, disorientation of hatchlings by night lights, entanglement in discarded fishing gear, boat collisions, climate change, and oil spills.

These cumulative risks from human activities contribute to declining turtle populations around the world. Comprehensive conservation efforts are vital for preserving sea turtles into the future.

33. How does plastic waste harm marine ecosystems?

Plastic debris and microplastics pollute habitats from shorelines to the deepest trenches. Seabirds, fish, whales, sea turtles and other animals ingest and get entangled in plastic junk. Microplastics clog filter feeders’ systems and accumulate up food chains into seafood.

Plastics leach harmful chemicals and concentrate toxins on their surfaces. They transport invasive organisms and alter marine microbial ecology. The sheer volume of nonbiodegradable plastics persisting in the ocean wreaks havoc on underlying ecosystem functions.

34. What stresses are causing mass coral bleaching?

Mass coral bleaching results when ocean waters become too warm, prompting corals to expel the algae living symbiotically in their tissues. This turns coral skeletons white and deprives them of nutrition.

Prolonged bleaching events can kill entire reefs. Key bleaching stressors are heat waves driven by climate change and El Niño cycles. Also, ocean acidification from excess atmospheric CO2 impairs the calcification corals need for their skeletons. Urgent action on greenhouse gas emissions is needed to protect corals.

What are copepods and why are they important?

Copepods are tiny planktonic crustaceans that occur in vast numbers throughout Earth’s oceans. They form a crucial link in marine food webs, feeding on algae and getting eaten by small fish, then passed up the chain. Several copepod species undertake vertical migrations from the depths, transporting nutrients and carbon.

Though tiny, copepod abundance supports enormous biomass, from whales to seabirds. They help enable ocean life far from coastal productivity, and contribute to CO2 absorption via the biological pump.

37. What benefits do mangrove forests provide?

Mangrove forests thrive at tropical and subtropical coastlines. Their dense roots stabilize sediment, reduce erosion, and absorb storm surges. They filter runoff and serve as nurseries for many juvenile fish and invertebrates.

Mangrove trees absorb significant carbon and export nutrients offshore. However, over a third of mangroves have been lost to coastal development and aquaculture farming. Preserving these habitats maintains vital buffers between land and sea.

38. How does overfishing ripple through marine food webs?

Removing apex predators like sharks and tuna through overfishing cascades down food webs. It can increase prey species, which then consume more zooplankton, in turn decreasing phytoplankton. Declining phytoplankton reduces atmospheric oxygen production.

Lower trophic levels may collapse from predation pressure. Biodiversity declines and ecosystems grow more vulnerable. Solutions require addressing bycatch, habitat damage, and sustainable limits for targeted species at multiple levels.

39. What does bycatch from industrial fishing fleets impact?

Huge industrial fishing fleets often discard 25% or more of what they catch as bycatch while targeting certain species. This bycatch waste impacts seabirds, sharks, marine mammals, sea turtles, and fish.

Longline tuna and swordfish fishing also hooks large numbers of sharks, mahi mahi, marlins and other non-target species, many not surviving release. Lost gear like nets and traps known as ghost fishing gear keeps killing indiscriminately. Managing bycatch remains a major challenge for ocean conservation globally.

40. How do marine protected areas help conserve biodiversity?

Marine protected areas (MPAs) designate zones where extractive activities like fishing are prohibited or carefully regulated. This allows local biodiversity to rebound, with increases in biomass, size and diversity observed.

MPAs provide safe refuges for migratory species and vital nursery grounds. Networks of protected areas allow healthier regional connectivity. MPAs also help replenish populations outside boundaries through the spillover effect. Expanded MPAs thus help restore and secure marine ecosystems.

41. What is bioaccumulation of toxins up the food chain?

Bioaccumulation refers to the increasing concentration of substances like pesticides and heavy metals in an organism compared to its environment. As small organisms accumulate toxins and then get eaten by larger predators, substances like mercury biomagnify up the food chain in accumulating doses.

Fish high on food chains thus contain mercury concentrations millions of times higher than surrounding water. This chemical magnification can lead to reproductive harm and poisoning at upper trophic levels.

42. How does coastal development damage marine habitats?

Expanding human settlement along coasts removes crucial buffers and wetlands that protect and regulate the land-sea interface. Activities like dredging harbors and armoring shorelines with concrete walls physically alters coastal geomorphology needed by ecosystems.

Sedimentation from construction smothers seagrass and reefs. Runoff pollutes nearshore waters, causing eutrophication and algal blooms. Preserving natural coastal environments through effective zoning preserves vital transition habitat.

43. What are nurdle pellets and how do they pollute?

Nurdle pellets are small plastic pellets used as raw material in manufacturing. But billions escape from industrial facilities into waterways annually. Easy to ingest, nurdles accumulate toxins at high concentrations.

They readily enter oceans, dispersing globally and washing up by the millions onto beaches. Cleanups occur but are not keeping pace with spills. Preventing these plastic gains at the source through capture and closed-loop systems is key to reducing this industrial ocean pollution.

44. Why does agricultural runoff create marine dead zones?

Fertilizer and manure runoff from industrial agriculture flows down rivers, emptying nutrients like nitrogen into oceans. This fertilizes algal blooms, causing microbial decomposition that completely depletes oxygen and kills all other marine life in vast dead zones.

The largest dead zone worldwide is in the Gulf of Mexico, caused by US Midwest fertilizer runoff. Reducing use of lawn and agricultural fertilizers, along with nutrient capture wetlands, can mitigate this insidious source of ocean suffocation.

45. What species suffer from noise pollution in oceans?

Sound travels very far underwater, and low frequency noise from ships and seismic surveys can disrupt marine life over vast distances. Whales rely on songs for breeding and migration, which gets masked by noise.

Sonar causes lethal beachings by disorienting species like beaked whales. Even fish and invertebrates rely on sound for settlement, predator avoidance and reproduction. Reducing noise in sensitive habitats improves marine community health and productivity by reducing stress on vital behaviors.

46. How could deep-sea mining negatively impact biodiversity?

Mining the sea floor for metals and minerals threatens poorly understood deep ocean biodiversity and ecosystems before we even know the extent of what exists there. Sediment plumes disrupt filter feeding communities and smother seabed life.

Removal of substrate layers eliminates diverse habitats. Slow-growing species like corals are very sensitive to disturbance with poor recovery rates. We should approach the deep ocean, which covers most of the planet, with great care and reverence for its long evolutionary legacy.

47. Why is reducing carbon emissions urgent for ocean health?

The ocean has already absorbed over 90% of excess heat from greenhouse gases since 1970. This warming causes mass coral bleaching, disrupts thermohaline circulation patterns, increases storm intensity, and acidifies waters that creatures rely on for shell-building.

Further emissions risk large-scale biodiversity losses and oxygen declines. Curbing emissions is urgent for preventing irreversible ecosystem collapses. The future habitability of our ocean depends on quickly transitioning to renewable energy and greatly reducing carbon pollution.

48. What can coastal wind farms harm if not properly sited?

Offshore wind power harnesses immense energy potential with less visible impacts than land-based wind farms. But turbines can also threaten marine wildlife if located in key migration corridors or habitats.

Noise and electromagnetic field disturbance during construction and operation may affect species like whales, fish and seabirds. Careful siting, impact monitoring, and compensatory mitigation measures can reduce harm from this key renewable technology and allow coexistence.

49. How can everyday citizens help protect life below water?

Individuals can help the ocean in many ways:

  • Reduce plastic waste and participate in cleanups
  • Choose sustainable seafood
  • Avoid products with microbeads and microplastics
  • Reduce energy use and adopt renewable sources
  • Use environmentally safe sunscreens that don’t bleach coral
  • Don’t purchase souvenirs made from coral or other marine life
  • Don’t disturb tidepools, seabirds, or marine mammals
  • Report injured animals, oil spills, and poaching activities
  • Support organizations involved in ocean conservation

Our voices and actions do make a difference. Small collective shifts in behaviors add up to transformational change.

50. What gives you hope for the future of Earth’s oceans?

Signs of hope for the ocean include:

  • Increased awareness of conservation needs
  • New technologies aiding sustainability
  • Growth of marine protected areas
  • Recovery of some whale and fish populations
  • Activism by impassioned youth worldwide
  • Rediscovery of species thought extinct like the coelacanth
  • Success of community-led grassroots efforts
  • Indigenous knowledge and stewardship gaining recognition
  • Advancements in climate change mitigation

Though many threats exist, the ocean’s resilience and ability to recover give optimism if humanity acts with wisdom. By working collectively, we can restore health to our global commons.

VII. Conclusion

Our human lives remain tied to the global seas that connect everyone. The ocean’s immense treasures belong to us all. With knowledge, empathy, care and action, we can restore vitality below the waves.

Life Below Water

The time to secure an abundant ocean future is now. If we respect the waters that give life, they will continue sustaining us in turn. Consider reading >>>> Facts about life below water global goals to learn more.