Snapshot: “Eternal vigilance is the price of . . .”

This is a follow up in our series on the BBC’s Blue Planet 2. You should read part one first, here.


We’ve all experienced loss. Our wallet on the bus, our money to an unexpected financial burden, our health to mis-eating or low levels of excersise, our friends, partners, and family in a myriad of ways – some temporarily, others permanently. Everyone feels loss, and approaches it and the subsequent pains in their own unique ways.

Some things can throw us only for a moment, a shrug of the shoulders releasing us from the burden. Others, we carry, and the memory of what was or could have been, stays with us for the rest of our lives.

In hindsight, how often do we wish we had acted differently? You were told or knew better, but ignored the advice. Maybe you were afraid. All that time they were there and now they’re gone. What’s important?

***

As Sir David Attenborough has said in #BluePlanet2, we’re essentially loosing the beauty of our oceans. The wonderfully rich diversity of life that inhabits all corners of the world is being impacted heavily by human activity.

Before we move to the solutions, we’ll explore three aspects of our influence that is wreaking havoc on our oceans and how it’s doing so. After all, knowledge is a catalyst change. It’s our inspiration.

And the more we know the problem, the easier it is to piece it apart and resolve to solve it…

16

Exposed coral in the Top End, Northern Territory

There’s plenty more fish in the sea..

A fishing line is cast. It’s kilometres long. Sometimes up to 100 kilometres long, and laced with secondary lines and shiny metal hooks. Baited with miscellaneous fish and squid species, offshore ships drop these lines into currents that sweep them across the oceans surface. This is long-lining, and well as the target species (ie. Tuna), it also catches protected and threatened turtles, sharks, marine mammals.

Closer to home, there’s a fine net hides vertically in the shallows. A gill net, and as fish swim into it unknowingly (given its fine mesh), they’re caught by the gills, and drown. Again, gill-netting doesn’t choose its prey, it catches and kills dolphins, sealions, sharks and many more.

Or then there’s those practices dragging a massive, weighted net across the seafloor, tearing up literally whatever it hits. Not only animals, but causing massive damage to corals, sponges, and seagrass beds, as whole landscapes are dragged up and destroyed, turned to sediment patches of destruction like a clear felled forest. This is called trawling.

That’s only three forms of fishing methods. ‘Industrial Fishing’ is an industrial operation, targeting a species but wiping out others – world wide. To find full lists of how many of these species are caught and killed as ‘by-catch’ in Australian waters, look through these government reports.

10

Dark Beach, Murramarang NP, NSW

It’s getting hot in here!

What is the difference between climate and weather?

Weather is what happens this weekend, that determines if you tan up in the sun or if your camping trip is rained out. Climate is whether a generation of people are still able to play in the sun, or a generation of people will experience rain and have enough water to drink. Climate’s the long term situation we’re living amid, and the subtle (and not so subtle) changes it undergoes over time.

Our climate is changing. It’s warming, and has been doing so at an abnormal rate over the last 100 years. This is impacting our marine environment world over.

The poles are feeling it, melting at a shocking rate. Most recently, a massive heatwave pulsed through the Arctic, pushing the cold weather towards the equator. Glaciers too and rapidly disappearing, leaving empty valleys and even diverting entire rivers in the blink of an eye.

12

An intertidal community of sea snails, Murramarang NP, NSW

Forever, is a long time.

Find a map of the world, and visually appreciate how massive the Pacific ocean is, seemingly stretching from pole-to-pole. In it’s southern portion, on a pin-prick of an island called Henderson Island, you’ll find the highest recorded levels of pollution in the world. Whilst over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals that live throughout that whole map, die from plastics each year.

And, if we sustain this rate of international pollution, it’s estimated there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050.

Back home in Australia, 75% of beach rubbish made of plastic, whilst a recent CSIRO study is a serious wake-up call, with microplastics found deep in the remote Great Australian Bight.

Around the world, we are producing nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year, half of which is for single use. And of this, more than 8 million tons of this plastic ends up in our oceans annually.

We’re producing, using, and polluting with this extremely valuable resource and a shockingly rapid rate.

9

Inspecting the finer things, Moreton Bay MP, Queensland

So. Now what?

“You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”
– Daniel Patrick Moynihan

This is a very small portion of the facts around the plights of our marine world, each touched on by the amazing Blue Planet 2.

We need to seek out and know these unwelcome facts. If not all, then at least some, enough to start a conversation and to instigate the change that our oceans desperately need us to make.

Let’s use these facts to fuel a successful implementation of the solutions. Solutions, of which there are many and varied, that we’ll touch on in the next and final piece dedicated to the amazing Blue Planet 2. See you there!


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