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The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected
Middle Cove, NL, Canada | Photo credit: Victoria Rogers
Source of Inspiration
The ocean is a source of inspiration. From the “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” (Julio Verne; 1870), to “The old man and the Sea” (Ernest Hemingway, 1952), the ocean has inspired artists, poets and writers for centuries. It inspires many people who want to live by it, and whose work is based on what the ocean has to offer. While there is a lot of discussion about how to protect the ocean and its resources, there is less about why? Asking questions about why marine conservation takes us to a deeper discussion, not just about how to apply tools like Marine Protected Areas but into building a long-term and respectful relationship between oceans and humans, whose health are intertwined and interdependent.
“Erosion” (E.J. Pratt, 1931)
It took the sea a thousand years,
A thousand years to trace
The granite features of this cliff,
In crag and scarp and base.
It took the sea an hour one night,
An hour of storm to place
The sculpture of these granite seams
Upon a woman’s face.
NL, Canada | Photo credit: Vesna Kerezi
Foundation of All Life
The ocean is the foundation of all life. In fact, life itself arose from the oceans. The ocean is vast and mysterious, covering about 70% of the earth’s surface, containing 97% of the Earth’s water, and representing 99% of the living space on the planet by volume.
It is the world's largest ecosystem, home to fascinating animals and plants (an estimated 50-80% of life on our planet).
Take a look at this list of fascinating species that can be found in Atlantic Canada.
NL, Canada | Photo credit: Evan Edinger
Food & More
The ocean provides food, medicines, minerals and energy resources as well as livelihoods for millions of people. Over 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for protein and livelihood. Marine fisheries directly or indirectly employ over 200 million people. Despite its importance, there is still a disconnection between our activities and the long-term impact of our actions on the marine environment.
Read this high panel blue paper about The future of the food from the sea to learn more:
NL, Canada | Photo credit: Jan Hong Jin
The ocean helps to regulate temperature and climate patterns and supplies fresh water and oxygen to the earth. It absorbs heat and transports warm water from the equator to the poles, and cold water from the poles to the tropics. Hence, reducing extreme weather and making the world more suitable for human life.
The ocean is responsible for producing more than 50% of life-giving Oxygen. This is thanks to tiny organisms called phytoplankton!
Health & Wellbeing
But the connection between the ocean and humans goes beyond providing and regulating, it also influences our physical and mental health. (The ocean calms us (think about using the sounds of waves to support meditation techniques), makes us happier (remember those funny holidays on the beach?), healthier and more connected with the world around us). People perceive nature as something positive, and spending time amongst it usually improves mood. There are a lot of great recreational activities linked to the ocean, such as diving, swimming or sailing. Even hiking the East Coast Trail, having the ocean as a background is enough to make the experience unique.
Fair Island, NL, Canada | Photo credit: Vesna Kerezi
Pride of Place
It is undeniable that people, especially those that live close to the coast, have an emotional attachment to the ocean, leading to a sense of place. The Ocean is a social and cultural place that has driven traditions and values, ultimately shaping our self-understanding as individuals and communities. Hence, the contribution of the ocean to human wellbeing is unmeasurable.
“You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more?”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea