Our oceans are under threat from a range of processes; increasing carbon dioxide levels are making the ocean more acidic; climate change is warming our planet leading to coral bleaching and habitat changes; the warming atmosphere results in more severe storms that damage reefs; coastal development leads to runoff that reduces water quality and shipping transports invasive species around the globe, to name a few.
Some marine species are handling this change well, but most are not. Corals can only survive in a narrow temperature range. Seagrasses - an essential habitat for the early life stages of many animals - are killed off by changes in water quality. Fishing has decimated most of the top predators in the marine food chain, leading to changes in marine communities. Whaling in the 20th century wiped out over 99% of most large whale populations, some of which remain threatened despite the moratorium on whaling for the last 30 years. The list goes on.
At Marine Explorer, we believe that it is mankind's duty to set right the mistakes of the past; that we do not have the right to eliminate any species on our planet and that we do so at our own risk. This is our home too and we live in a complex network of relationships where we need the planet just as much as it needs us. So what can we do about it?
We can start by thinking about our personal impact. What choices do we make when we go shopping? Do we buy sustainable seafood? Do we use plastics, like bags and packaging, more than necessary? (90% of marine debris is plastic). There are many other choices to think about; but we can also make a positive contribution - it's not just about doing without.We can donate funds to conservation initiatives and organisations. We can write to politicians to express our support for conservation decisions. We can raise awareness amongst our own social networks.
We can also volunteer our time to help improve our understanding of the marine environment. Lack of understanding and awareness is one of our biggest challenges in the oceans, unlike on land where it is much easier to study populations, lifecycles and ecological relationships. A large proportion of species in the ocean is unknown. Even those species we do know are often classed as "data deficient"; in other words, we don't know enough about the species to know if it's in trouble. For example, half of the whale and dolphin species in Australian waters are classified as data deficient.
Marine Explorer aims to help to address this information vacuum, through our direct activities and through training and assistance of others. We are currently active in a number of survey programs, including Fish Identification and Reef Life Surveys. These assess the abundance, life stages, distribution and habitats of fish and invertebrate species in the surveyed areas.
We are also active in surveying and cleaning up marine debris. Debris is found whenever people survey any coastline or beach around the world, no matter how remote. Current estimates are that there are over 100 million tons of debris in the ocean , and humans are adding to this at a rate of 7 million tons globally each year.
Marine debris surveys help us to understand where this debris is coming from so we can address it at the source.
Marine Explorer also actively promotes low impact diving and the development of scientific diving skills including survey methods. We are happy to share our skills in these areas; we regularly run skill development dives for people who are interested in getting involved in marine surveys.
Humans are an intelligent species; some say nearly as intelligent as dolphins :) We can all make choices that will impact positively on our future. At Marine Explorer, we aim to do just this by inspiring people, engaging communities and taking action to protect our oceans and the life within.
We are a community organisation that is dedicated to sharing information about our amazing underwater world, so that more people can appreciate it and ultimately contribute to it's conservation.
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