Scientists find nature bouncing back, when we help
Some come flying out of the water like mighty giants. Others, much tinier, scuttle along the seabed, out of sight. Or barely move at all.
We’re talking about whales. And lobsters. And oysters. They are three of many sea creatures which have bounced back from terrible troubles.
That gives us all hope for our oceans.
A group of scientists from all over the world have just published some detailed research on the health of the sea. (You might call it an ‘in-depth study’!)
Problems, yes; but solutions too
The scientists found that the ocean has a lot of problems.
We know about these: people dumping chemicals and plastic rubbish; our cars that are warming up the Earth and upsetting life in the ocean; fishing for our food in clumsy ways that means some fish are disappearing…
But the scientists also looked at the ways people are trying to put things right.
And the new and exciting thing is this: they discovered that when we make an effort to stop damaging it, the ocean can bounce back to health more quickly than we thought.
Target full-health in 2050
The world’s seas could pretty much recover, the experts said, in about 30 years – so, by the time you children reading this article maybe have kids of your own.
The scientists gave examples. Like those whales.
People used to hunt whales. There were almost none left in places. Like the humpback whales, down by the South Pole. But we banned hunting.
And now they’re back. Tens of thousands, big as a bus, crashing through the waves.
“Signs of hope”, scientists say
Whales still need our help. But as we’ve reported before, things are looking up. (And check out our new fanzine for news of blue whales also recovering.)
At a much smaller level, more and more areas of the sea, especially around our coasts, are being closed off to heavy fishing.
And the scientists found that, when that happens, fish, lobsters and all sorts of shellfish, like oysters, burst into life again.
“A lot of us, recently, have seen signs of hope,” Boris Worm, who was one of the researchers, told Canadian Press.
“There are now hundreds and hundreds of examples that when we do something, the ocean displays remarkable resilience.”
Climate challenge – a possible ‘win-win’
There’s another big ‘if’, though, if we want healthy seas.
We need to keep our promises – made by countries all over the world – to slow down climate change.
The good news is that fighting climate change and cleaning the ocean can go together.
For example, encouraging oysters also helps seaweed grow. Oysters and seaweed both help clean the water. And seaweed also takes in the carbon dioxide that causes global warming. So it can be win-win!
Our planet, and the oceans that cover most of its surface, is complex. Everything is linked in some ways. So we have to do lots of things, not just one big thing.
Carlos Duarte, the professor working in Saudi Arabia who led the research, put it like this:
“There’s no one silver bullet.”
Big change starts small…
That means that every one of us can do something to help – for a start, by thinking about how we eat or travel or throw things away.
And lots of projects to help the sea start small, maybe with just one person.
Find out more about people making a difference where they live – like Howard, saving the lobsters of Lamlash in Scotland, the local people restoring oysters to England’s Solent estuary or Nikki, growing seaweed to clean the sea in Holland.
Do you have an idea of a way to help the ocean? How about discussing it with your teacher? And drop us a line to let us know!
Pollution, over-fishing, global warming; man-made problems have damaged life in the ocean.
We can all show the ocean a bit of love; and scientists found that when we do take care, sea-life bounces back quickly!
Carlos Duarte and his team published their findings in Nature
You can read an extract from Carlos’s King Abdullah University
The Guardian was among newspapers that carried reports.
Read more about the Lamlash lobster project. Howard features in a video.
You can also learn more about the Solent oyster project.
“The ocean is not in as catastrophic a state as is sometimes portrayed“: an interview with Carlos Duarte in this 2-minute video: