I once wrote an article entitled “Oceans: Earth’s Final Frontier” in which I cited the statistic that, despite covering 70% of the earth’s surface, only 5% of oceans have been explored by humans. It is no surprise then that so many people are fascinated by the oceans. As a fellow ocean lover, I understand why one may be enamored of the mysteries, the possibilities for exploration, the need for protection, and the ability to manipulate the ecosystem for use for human progress. The possibilities for working with the ocean are limitless.
Global Weirding: The Coral Catastrophe
Coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea. Full of diversity and severely endangered, corals play a very similar role in reefs to the role of trees in rainforests. Corals provide a backbone for the most lush, colorful, and productive ecosystems on the planet.
For humans, reefs buffer shorelines, provide homes for important fisheries species, are important tourist destinations, and can provide novel medicines. According to a study done in 1997, the economic worth of coral reefs adds up to approximately $375 billion each year, even though reefs only cover 1% of the earth’s surface. Yet all of this value is at risk under the influence of climate change.
“Exposing the truth about global warming hysteria” reads the tagline of the website GlobalClimateScam.com. However, this is what I’m about to attempt: to expose the truth about the importance of why everyone is so up in arms about this whole global warming problem and what buzzwords like “global warming” and “climate change” mean. So here we go: ocean acidification and climate change, the basics.
The European shore crab, scientific name Carcinus maenus, is in the process of taking over the world. This little creature, also frequently referred to as the green crab, features all the characteristics of your average crab, but now also has a feature most animals do not: it occupies five of the world’s seven continents.
This summer, I got a chance to fulfill my dream of being Jacques Cousteau. Unfortunately, this experience was short-lived as I was returned to being a mere civilian after completing a game with the campers at the Central Park Zoo. Noah Chesnin, Policy Program Manager for New York Seascape at the Wildlife Conservation Society, created this game. For half an hour, the carpeted classroom floors were transformed into the coasts of the tri-state area, the open ocean, and the depths of the Hudson canyon as students swam around as a whale, a ship, coral, fish, turtles, recreational fishermen, the coast guard, or even Jacques Cousteau himself. This role playing game demonstrates just how many different individuals need to coordinate in order for things to run smoothly in the oceans. For example, the students playing the role of whales had to come up with compromises with boats, such as introducing shipping lanes to prevent collisions.
Since the game recognizes the importance of teamwork in marine policy work, Chesnin presented his ocean planning game on August 31st during the New York Aquarium’s event entitled “Navigating New York’s Busy Ocean: Whales, Ships and a New Era of Ocean Planning.” This idea, that I like to call “Collabor-Ocean,” is represented simply through the game and is vital to ocean planning