The Guardian recently reported that according to scientists in Nature, if we take the right steps moving forward, we could have healthy, vibrant oceans again as early as the 2050s. Some bright points in ocean restoration that exhibit the resiliency of Mother Nature include humpback whale and sea otter populations that were once quite dire.
Some challenges that we still must overcome to find our tidalpunk future are overfishing, agricultural runoff, and ocean acidification due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. This year will be particularly challenging for life in the Gulf of Mexico given the increased rainfall expected once again in the Midwest United States which drives erosion and agricultural runoff. An increase in regenerative agriculture on the land, and sustainable fishing practices in the water would help greatly toward the goal of revitalizing our oceans.
A study from 2016 showed that protecting 30-40% of the world’s oceans from exploitation would provide a benefit not only for the creatures in the ocean, but also for the people who rely on fishing and tourism to make their living. By setting aside parts of the ocean for the wildlife that lives there, we ensure long-term viability of the ocean’s biodiversity. In 2018, the United Kingdom’s Environmental Minister became one of the first major political leaders to back the plan.
On a personal note, as a midwesterner, I’d never been to the ocean until I was twenty. Growing up in a place where the largest bodies of water were ponds and small streams, it was boggling to see the water stretch out beyond the horizon. All the different types of fish and birds that live along the shorelines here in Virginia are fascinating to watch, and the ocean waves themselves are mesmerizing. I feel a great respect for the ocean, and hope that we can help it recover from the damage caused by years of careless neglect.
Do you live near the ocean? Are there any programs in your area to help wildlife, aquatic or terrestrial? Let us know below!
Hi, as you asked, I do live pretty close to the Baltic Sea, in Kiel. After WW2, there was a lot of ammunition dumped into the sea as a part of the disarmament. As a city known for it’s shipyards, Kiel had a lot of ammunition and the close sea is full of it. For a long time nobody cared, but they are sometimes causing issues and also interest in the environment rose, so there’s a lot of investigation now, mostly about how the dumped bombs behave. Some are leaking toxic matter and all will do eventually once the hull has holes. The bombs are only recovered in special cases as it’s a dangerous and very expensive operation. Also it can only be done by a specific agency with limited ressources (Kampfmittelräumungsdienst, translated explosive ordnance disposal service). Research is led by the Geomar maritime science institute which is also based in Kiel, the ammunition programm is called UDEMM: https://udemm.geomar.de/
Geomar does a lot of ocean research but this is the one where the actual research happens the closest to me so I choose this topic for that comment.
That’s really interesting. I can imagine that it’s a difficult situation to remove toxic munitions since you have to balance human safety from immediate danger and long term toxicity concerns. It sounds like how here in the US there’s not enough funding for the agencies making the most positive impacts. Thanks for sharing, I’ll have to take some time exploring what Geomar does!
I don’t live close to the sea per-se, but I do live right by a major river. It’s seen a lot of improvement over the last few years. Better waste management systems and stricter laws have meant wildlife has slowly been returning.
That’s great to hear that things are improving. I remember I spent a summer in Boston, and the tour guide said that in the 70s you’d violate the Clean Water Act if you took a bucket of the water out and dumped it back in! I don’t know if that’s strictly true, but I know that the water quality had improved a lot by the time I was there in 2006. Even though things can seem dark, I think it’s important we look for those small victories where we can see that things can be improved. I think you really did a good job of pointing that out in your most recent post on your blog.