Why we should save the sea! seawilding and UK marine life.
The ocean constitutes over 90% of the habitable space on the planet. The seabed can be abundant with life and It’s this life that gives the seabed structure, which provides the foundation for a healthy marine ecosystem. Life in the sea interacts with life on the land and when the seas suffer we all suffer. In less than 100 years, without significant changes, more than half of the world’s marine species may stand on the brink of extinction.
There is a huge decline in the biodiversity of our ocean. In the past century a vast volume of seagrass meadows and shellfish beds have vanished. Water temperatures are increasing due to climate change, and it’s making them acidic.
A higher level of acidity in the oceans means that coral can’t grow and crustaceans can’t form shells. Agricultural practices, coastal tourism, mining, fisheries, aquaculture, among others, are all sources of marine pollution threatening coastal and marine habitats.
Excessive nutrients from sewage outfalls and agricultural runoff have contributed to the number of low oxygen (hypoxic) areas known as dead zones, where most marine life cannot survive as they contain little oxygen, resulting in the collapse of ecosystems.
The persistent noise from engines and offshore developments disrupt ancient migratory pathways. Life in our seas depends on sound to communicate, navigate, feed and socialise – so this is a massive disruption.
It impacts meeting places and hunting grounds for whales and dolphins. Our seas are polluted by extortionate amounts of litter and tiny plastic particles. Between 10 and 20 million metric tonnes of plastic are polluting and destroying the ocean’s ecosystems.
UK waters are home to some cetaceans including humpback whales, orca, also known as killer whales, and “superpods” containing hundreds of bottlenose dolphins. During summer there are over 30 species of shark to be found in British and Irish waters including blue sharks, basking sharks and thresher sharks. The UK coast in the summer attracts in excess of eight million seabirds looking to breed including the northern gannet, and the puffin.
Sadly, the area of our ocean undamaged by humans is tiny, Only 13% of the world’s seas are still wild. Crucially, less than 5% of this remaining wilderness is officially protected. Rewilding the seas means taking actions that allow underwater habitats, and the sealife, to recover. When habitat recovers so does everything that relies upon it. Where there is living habitat there are fish, and where there are fish the larger marine life returns.
Oyster regeneration projects are underway and there are projects working to restore seagrass meadows and kelp forest.
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