The Sea Around Us

It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself. 
— Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us

The floating jacket is keeping me warm as I straddle my seat in the Hurricane. I woke up this morning to the pouring rain, it was wetter than yesterday which felt like the wettest day of the year, but today I’m out on the water with Brian Hunt, an oceanographer and his science team.

I am no scientist, but the pleasures, and the values of contact with the natural world, are not reserved for just them. They are available to anyone who will sit under the influence of a lonely mountain top — or the sea — or the stillness of a forest; or who will stop to think about so small a thing as the mystery of a growing seed, or phytoplankton.

We are here sampling water. Which is a relatively affordable method of determining biodiversity that doesn’t involve killing marine life for research purposes. Animals leave DNA evidence behind as they move through the water, including shedding hair, skin or scales as well as slime/ mucous. When those cells shed most float to the surface, and what we are testing reveals the genetic fingerprint for that patch of water. You can look at the whole ecosystem and not just one species at a time. 

It is the scientists that in the smallest acts of retrieving water from the depths of the blue ocean are proving over and over again that they are on the front lines. Like the ocean relies on the smallest organisms to feed its entire population, humans rely on scientific observation and inquiry.