“Never has it been more important to understand how the natural world works, and how to help it “, famed nature documentarian David Attenborough says in Our Planet, the Netflix nature series that premiered April 5. It was produced in association with the international wildlife conservation nonprofit WWF.
On this short clip, we can clearly understand how the high seas ecosystem works and what we need to do to “save it”.
What should we protect?
“Perhaps it’s the plants”
Phytoplankton is the most popular microscopic floating plant of the high seas. There are so numerous that they create as much oxygen as all the world forest and grassland combined. They also soak up vast quantities of carbon dioxide, making them a great ally on the battle against climate change.
However, they tend to sink into the sea bottom where there is no sun to feed them. Moreover, in the high seas there are not enough essential nutrients available.
But nature has that solved: whales! They contribute to the local mixing and they defecate on the surface, fertilizing and fueling the growth of plankton. Then the plankton feed fish and krill, which then are eaten by whales.
So save the whales? What happened to whales? Did we save them?
As consumers if we consume less marine predators, we can help on saving our high seas.
We simply need to have a better control of what we take out and we put it.
What we take out
- All the fish collected in the high seas is only 1/10 of what we catch on coastal waters. It is so expensive to fish on so distant waters that it will be impossible to take profit without the actual governmental subsidies. If these subsidies are ended thousands of tunas, sharks, turtles, seabirds and dolphins will be saved.
- Create more marine sanctuaries. Only 1% of the high seas are protected. We can set aside a third or more, where all marine life can thrive.
What we put in
- As a consumer, seek products that do not need to be thrown away. Reuse them, try to update the ones that you can and recycle.
“We still act as the high seas belong to no one, it is time to embrace that they belong to us all.”