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Some links to interesting news articles today. First of all an active undersea volcano (called Vailulu'u or Nafanua seamount, not sure...) near the Samoan archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. According to a new study it will break the ocean surface within a couple of decades. It has already been growing 300 meters in the past years [link]. Maybe more interesting, and certainly the winner if it comes to a photo contest, is the wildlife living on the hydrothermal vents on the seamount, a city of eels! [link][link: large photo]
Also an interesting article about a dead zone (an area with oxygen depleted water) that killed off about 4.5 million individual mussels (80% of the population) in one bay, basically causing a local extinction [link]. Dead zones are becoming a serious issue. It is estimated that the amount of areas has doubled since 1990 to nearly 175 now. Some (e.g. the bay of Mexico) of these areas have the size of Ireland; as we all know anything the size of Ireland can't be up to any good (except for Ireland itself that is, lovely green country). Wikipedia has a decent entry on ecological dead zones (not to be confused with the Dead Zone movie...).
I 've added a roadmap / timeline with key points, events and agreements in the history of our oceans to the website. At the moment the list has about fifty entries; starting in 1604 with the publication of the Mare Liberum (Free Seas, concept of international waters) by Dutchman Hugo Grotius, and ending in 2005 with the Kyoto Protocol coming in effect. Im planning on updating the roadmap on a regular basis.
The first issue (see the post about major issues) is fisheries management. Even the FAO underlines the problems in its State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2004 report; capture fisheries production is stagnating (while aquaculture is expanding, though often at high environmental costs) and there are growing concerns with regard to the livelihoods of fishers and the sustainability of commercial catches and the aquatic ecosystems from which they are extracted. The way current fisheries are managed is not only the greatest threat to the world's oceans but also the source of a social problem for coastal communities worldwide. (read the full article)
Our oceans are vast, as in really vast... We used to think they were too vast to be affected by our actions; we assumed there was an unlimited supply of fish (and whales...), and sewage just... dissappeared! Nowadays we are starting to be more aware of the mistakes we made before as the effects of our previous activities have painfully showed this mistakes to us. Development had such an impact that oceans are now on the brink of collapse. A lot is already lost, but hopefully we can still reverse the global decline. A number of issues and threats can be identified, it all comes down to a few main themes though. (read the full article)
...or: An absolute beginners guide on how to manage oceanic resources in a sustainable way. Our oceans are by far the most remarkable parts on Earth. Covering over two thirds of our planet they (and their adjacent seas and coastal areas) stretch from the freezing arctic to the burning tropics. They encompass an amazing range of ecosystems and organisms; from giant whales feeding on tiny shrimps till minuscule little coral worms building the largest structures on Earth. Most of all the oceans provide huge natural and economic resources which are easy accessible to large parts of the world's population, and this feature might be their downfall. (read the full article)
This site is currently under construction. Don't go away though, it will be alive and, hopefully, kicking on wednesday or thursday.