An Ocean of Despair

Almost half of the world’s oceans have been ruined to some degree … often very severely … by human activity. You’ve heard a lot on the news and in the blogosphere about this lately. This increased interest is in part because of the recent production (Feb 15th Science) of a map of the ocean showing these impact.

Here is the map:

i-1ad466ce88f4a52acfcaf1b830db6cc8-ocean_map_small.jpg
Click Here to View Larger Image

The work, published in the Feb. 15 issue of Science and presented at a press conference Thursday, February 14 at 1 pm EST at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Boston, MA, was conducted at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at UC Santa Barbara. It involved 19 scientists from a broad range of universities, NGOs, and government agencies.

The study synthesized global data on human impacts to marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, seagrass beds, continental shelves, and the deep ocean. Past studies have focused largely on single activities or single ecosystems in isolation, and rarely at the global scale. In this study the scientists were able to look at the summed influence of human activities across the entire ocean.

“This project allows us to finally start to see the big picture of how humans are affecting the oceans.” said lead author Ben Halpern, assistant research scientist at NCEAS. “Our results show that when these and other individual impacts are summed up, the big picture looks much worse than I imagine most people expected. It was certainly a surprise to me.”

“This research is a critically needed synthesis of the impact of human activity on ocean ecosystems,” said David Garrison, biological oceanography program director at NSF. “The effort is likely to be a model for assessing these impacts at local and regional scales.”


The Press Release is Here

A sample of other discussions on this issue:

Oceanic Dead Zones Off West Coast are the ‘New Normal’

Oregon Dead Zone

Science Friday Explores the State of the Oceans

See also many excellent posts on Blogfish.

Comments

  1. #1 Mark Powell
    February 28, 2008

    Thanks for covering this. I do think you’re of the “glass half empty” persuasion, and I see lots of reason for optimism in this work. Oh yeah, the issues also live outside of Sb ;)

  2. #2 greg laden
    February 28, 2008

    Mark: Yea, but either way, the glass being half full or empty, this glass is the ocean!!!

    Oh, and I know the exists outside of scienceblogs, but I’m not going to link to any blogs that are not Sciblings for one week in protest for being accused of being insular.

  3. #3 Mark Powell
    February 28, 2008

    Just one recreational bite at Sb since the feeding frenzy was on…you’re a fair linkist.

    The ocean impacts work is fantastic, it’s getting great coverage, and I’m actually pleased to see so much green on the impacts map above. Now our northern hemisphere oceans, they could use some help.

  4. #4 Michael Clarkson
    February 29, 2008

    Holy Christ what is up in the North Sea? Is that solely a fisheries effect or does that big red spot reflect chemical pollutants?

  5. #5 battery
    October 6, 2008

    Oh, and I know the exists outside of scienceblogs, but I’m not going to link to any blogs that are not Sciblings for one week in protest for being accused of being insular.

Current ye@r *