Our relationship with the unpredictable blue spans generations, allowing our regions to be defined by our maritime ways of sailing, trading, networking and so much more via our watery road. “The deep sea is the common heritage of all of humankind and we must all share in the responsibility to be good stewards of it. So all countries should have access to investigate the deep water parts of their own countries so they can make an informed decision about environmental policy.” Says Brian Kennedy from Boston University, a self-proclaimed lover of the unknown, who has participated in the first deep sea exploration of five different island chains and numerous new species discoveries. And what Kennedy says is true — our deep ocean is the largest ecosystem on our planet, covering more than 60% of its surface! “It cycles nutrients, detoxifies, and sequesters carbon helping to regulate our climate and ward off climate change. The deep sea is also fast becoming a source of crucial resources: oil and gas, food, minerals, pharmaceuticals, etc. It has the potential to provide solutions to some of the greatest challenges that humanity will face in the future e.g. antibiotic resistance.” says Dr. Diva Amon of the Natural History Museum in London, whose life was changed after she took a deep-sea science course.
You may be reading this thinking, “I’ve never seen the ocean, let alone the deep ocean! It clearly has no impact on my life.” Surprise- the deep sea impacts your life more than you think! Says Kennedy, “Even though most people don’t see the open ocean very often, it has a daily impact on all of our lives. Just two examples are: the ocean is responsible for half the oxygen we breathe and many of the fish we eat come are dependent on the nutrient that comes from the deep sea. So healthy oceans need to ensure healthy people.” And while 70% of nations have deep sea environments within their maritime Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), yet only 16% of them have the capacity to explore those environments. That is because this is an environment full of extremes such as crushing pressure, near-freezing temperatures, and total darkness. Yet this unexplored terrain is important. Dr. Randi Rotjan of Boston University, who became enamored with the deep sea while doing a post-doc at Harvard says, “The deep sea holds mysteries and secrets, but also answers to many fundamental questions about earth’s history (both biologically and geologically). If we want to understand our origins, we cannot ignore the deep-sea.”
But exploring the deep-sea is not easy. Those above-mentioned extremes make it technologically and logistically challenging to study it, and often means this sector of marine science is prohibitively expensive. “Traditionally, you need a large ship, multi-million-dollar robotic vehicles, and very few countries in the world have those kinds of resources to explore (e.g. US, UK, Japan, France, Greece). Additionally, the countries that have not ‘grown-up’ developing the capabilities themselves for deep sea exploration don’t have the knowledge to do so. […] So even if you dropped a research vessel in Kiribati, a local wouldn’t necessarily know if they’d discovered a new deep sea coral because they’ve never seen a deep sea coral in the first place. A lot of learning needs to happen to bridge that gap. And My Deep Sea was conceived to address both of those challenges.” Says Katy Croff Bell from the MIT Media Lab, who got hooked on deep-sea exploration after a research cruise in the Black Sea.
The “My Deep Sea, My Backyard” project aims to allow previously marginalized communities to step into the deep sea conversation by giving them the capability to explore, understand, and manage their deep sea backyard. The pilot project for “My Deep Sea, My Backyard” has launched, and allows for the use of low-cost emerging ocean technology while building lasting in-country capacity. “In order to explore it fully, we need to create a broader and more inclusive scientific community, build greater capacity for exploration, and look for ideas and expertise in communities that are surrounded by the sea but don’t yet have resources to explore it. These communities are greatly impacted by the availability of ocean resources, yet don’t always have the information they need to be able to make informed choices about how to manage those resources.” Says Alexis Hope, from the MIT Media Lab, who is a designer and researcher exploring how we can broaden participation in the design and use of emerging technologies.
The novel project will also engage the public and other stakeholders to raise awareness of the deep ocean through a series of school visits, deep-sea career events, and an exhibition next year (2019). By teaming up with global organisations like National Geographic, the Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative, Boston University, MIT Media Lab, COAST Foundation, UWI St. Augustine Campus, NIHERST, Inter-American Development Bank, and SpeSeas, “this project facilitates international cooperation and helps to establish a culture of discovery and to establish the next generation of ocean explorers” as Rotjan eloquently put it.
“It’s important for nations to know what is in their backyard, whether it is mineral resources, incredible biodiversity unrivaled elsewhere, or vulnerable marine ecosystems. You cannot effectively manage what you don’t understand and you cannot protect what you don’t know. Sustainable development can only occur if it is based on rigorous science.” Says Amon. The ocean is enormous and still largely remains a mystery to us. But it doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be. “In addition to the biological, geological, and other resources that are critical for human survival on earth, it’s also important to understand our history and we can learn a lot from archaeological sites both in the deep sea and in shallower submerged environments,” says Bell.
“Out of these efforts, I hope we can also begin to design new, lower-cost, and accessible technologies that produce scientifically valid data to support ocean exploration. There’s so much more we can create, in direct collaboration with people who will ultimately be using these tools, to move towards a world where ocean exploration is not only done by a few people at elite institutions, but by a broader group of people passionate about understanding and exploring the oceans right in their backyards.” Says Hope.
So why these two areas? Dr. Rotjan has been working with Kiribati for a decade as co-Chief scientist for the Phoenix Islands Protected Area and works side-by-side with the Kiribati government on issues of ocean science, exploration, and conservation. Dr. Amon is from Trinidad and Tobago so she has not only personal but professional connections in that region. Both scientists wanted to have one pilot project in the Atlantic/Caribbean and one in the Pacific as the chosen regions vary not only geographically but culturally. “This way we would face different challenges and experiences, forcing us to think about how we would take a project like this global.” Says Amon.
Currently, there are few people of color and people from developing nations in the deep-sea sphere. That needs to change if leaders want to truly say they are having a ‘global conversation.’ Hopefully ‘My Deep Sea, My Backyard’ is one of the conduits by which that change can begin to happen.
The bottom line is that our planet cannot be healthy without a healthy ocean, meaning that this largely undiscovered environment is crucial to our ocean’s health. Our health.
Find out more here: https://speseas.org/projects/my-deep-sea-my-backyard/
And follow their blog: https://openexplorer.nationalgeographic.com/expedition/trinidadtobagooceanexploration
You can also read the Kiribati Open Explorer blog: https://openexplorer.nationalgeographic.com/expedition/kiribatioceanexploration
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What would you state is the most significant collection of human history? While a museum might be on the suggestion of your tongue, let me stop you right there to inform you that you are incorrect. It isn’t a museum, however an environment that probably holds more human history than every museum on our world integrated: our oceans.
(** )Our relationship with the unforeseeable
blue periods generations, enabling our areas to be specified by our maritime methods of cruising, trading, networking therefore a lot more by means of our watery roadway.” The deep sea is the typical heritage of all of mankind and we need to all share in the duty to be excellent stewards of it. So all nations ought to have access to examine the deep water parts of their own nations so they can make an educated choice about ecological policy.” States Brian Kennedy from Boston University, a self-proclaimed enthusiast of the unidentified, who has actually taken part in the very first deep sea expedition of 5 various island chains and various brand-new types discoveries. And what Kennedy states holds true– our deep ocean is the biggest environment on our world, covering more than60% of its surface area! “It cycles nutrients, cleanses, and sequesters carbon assisting to manage our environment and fend off environment modification. The deep sea is likewise quick ending up being a source of vital resources: oil and gas, food, minerals, pharmaceuticals, and so on. It has the prospective to offer services to a few of the best obstacles that humankind will deal with in the future e.g. antibiotic resistance.” states Dr. Queen Amon(**** ) of the Nature Museum in London, whose life was altered after she took a deep-sea science course.
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