It has been estimated that over the last 5000 year, due to human activity, nearly 500 species of land animals have gone extinct. In the aquatic world, experts say a number of 15 species have disappeared. Although the latter number is not as high as the first, experts say it is heading in the same direction.
Recently, scientists, through a series of studies, have observed that the same patterns that caused the massive extinction of land animals can now be found in the oceans. Aquatic wildlife is at the stage land creatures were hundreds, if not thousands of years ago, but scientists warn that this might all be about to change in the next 100 years or so.
Researchers have recently published a study in the journal Science that explains marine life will be subjected to massive changes as the future seems to be more and more troublesome.
The study compares the effects major changes in human history had on land-based wildlife to the effects out present day actions have on oceans, and they have found striking similarities. The Industrial Revolution in the 19th century brought with itself major deforestation in order to create farm and factory land. Also, valuable resources were mined, drilled and sucked out of the ground. The result of these actions was the major disappearing of terrestrial species. During this period, fortunately, oceans weren’t greatly affected.
But present day industrial activity tells a different story. There are fish farms in the sea that create great imbalances in the oceanic populations. For example, shrimp farms are consuming mangroves in excessive quantities, similar to how land farming consumed and destroyed native prairies and forests. Other threats include seafloor mining that causes great distress in the marine world.
Authors of the study claim that we may be facing a marine industrial revolution. The situation in the oceans is becoming as cruel as it is on land, as globalization of oceanic resources and excessive industrial use of the seafloor bring unimaginable damage to the creatures’ health.
The paper brings out a possible solution to the human threat in suggesting that massive areas of oceans should be kept safe from mankind’s activities. But creating oceanic reservations isn’t nearly enough. Managing the damages brought upon marine populations in the spaces that are not protected should be done through powerful policies.
However, the ocean is presently in a healthy state and it is not too late so start protecting it, and making sure we don’t make the same mistakes that led to the extinction of land populations.
Image Source: National Geographic