One Ocean, Many Worlds of Life
The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) was declared by the United Nations “to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.” The event is in its 11th year with Marine Biodiversity the theme for 2012. Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and everyone interested in marine life can take this opportunity to raise awareness of the issues affecting the world’s oceans and shores.
For 10 years, from 2000 to 2010, scientists from around the world, in an unprecedented worldwide collaboration set out to try to determine how much life is in the sea. The huge effort, dubbed the ‘Census of Marine Life’ involved 2,700 scientists from over 80 countries, who participated in 540 expeditions around the world. According to information on the Census website, “The Census investigated life in the global ocean from microbes to whales, from top to bottom, from pole to pole, bringing together the world’s preeminent marine biologists, who shared ideas, data and results. During their 10 years of discovery, Census scientists discovered new species, habitats, and connections and unlocked many of the ocean’s long-held secrets. They found and formally described more than1, 200 new marine species, with another 5,000 or more in the pipeline awaiting formal description.”
The CBD website states, “Today, about 40 percent of the world’s population lives within 100 kilometres of the coast; fisheries provide over 15 percent of the dietary intake of animal protein; toxins in some species may yield anti-cancer drugs and other pharmaceuticals potentially worth more than US$ 5 trillion; and coastal ecosystems provide services, including tourism and protection from storms, that have been valued at nearly US$ 26 billion annually.”
There is a booklet available for download that expands on the whole Ocean Biodiversity issue, with a forward by Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity where he states, “The survival of marine and coastal ecosystems and biodiversity is essential to the nutritional, spiritual, societal and religious well-being of many coastal communities. But even for the many millions of people who may not think that they have any strong reliance on the ocean, marine ecosystems and wildlife provide all kinds of benefits.”
Life began in the ocean. Let’s not let it end there.