Free Essay

Preserving for Posterity

In: English and Literature

Submitted By flotsom
Words 1176
Pages 5
The ocean covers roughly two thirds of the Earth’s surface area, and as such is the most valuable resource that we have. Every year through mal-treatment and abuse we irreparably damage our ocean and the ecology found within it. Instead of focusing on what we can gain through strip mining the ocean of its treasures, work needs to be done to establish a safeguard for its preservation. Late President and naturalist Theodore Roosevelt stated “To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the [ocean] instead of using it so as to increase it’s usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very property which we ought by to hand down to them amplified and developed”. The oceans of this planet are the last unexplored spaces in our domain, as human beings. Man has successfully conquered space, traveling to the moon and expounding on the mysteries of outer space. But in the sea mysteries still remain, ranging from the untold countless life forms yet to be documented and discovered to the unexplored and unseen regions of the great blue deep. Without a care to its future man is ravaging our oceans, and destroying any hope of discovery. Every year fishermen complain that their catches come back smaller and smaller from the previous generations. Constant over fishing has caused a population decline in the trade fishes. Fishermen primarily ply their trade close the coastlines in depths of 200 meters (approximately 600 ft). Those areas can only contain a certain number of fish, and once those areas “run dry” they quickly move onto different areas. (Science, 3) But by the time they’ve finished with the new area, they quickly move back to their old fishing grounds thinking that the fish have had to time to repopulate. While some fishermen argue that the sea holds limitless catches, even they cannot fully explain why the average catch size decreases each year. The time required for many species to germinate to full adulthood is significantly longer that most fisheries give. Pew commission chairman and director of the California State University of Public Policy expounds, “Ninety percent of the large fish in the ocean are gone”. (Clemmitt, 1) With constant advances in technology, fish no longer stand a chance to the commercial fisherman. Through use of a wide range of technology, fishermen are better equipped to track, find, and monitor fish populations and movements. While closely regulated by the United States Coast Guard, the decline in our fish populations is increasing. One article reports, “Aside from diminishing the supply of fish, over fishing has led to deterioration in the quality of fish caught. As more-prized fish become commercially extinct, trash fish are taking their place.” (National, 4) With the abundance of over fishing taking place we’re on the right track to eating our resources to extinction. As we see the consequences attributed to over fishing it must also be noted that coral reefs stand to suffer much more than our fish populations. Coral reefs are built on the bones of previous coral and have taken millions of years to grow and flourish. The live coral that we see and associate with the richness in color and splendor are called polyps, and when they die, their husk is incorporated into the reef, in that each subsequent death lays a foundation for the next generation to build upon. Coral tend to only be found in tropical waters and are often support a whole ecosystem, supporting more that a million different species at once. Coral is also one of the most fragile life forms in the ocean, and are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Many studies have been performed to estimate that damage that has been done in the last 20 years as man has slowly gained dominance over the ocean. One such report coldly states, “…that over the past two decades, close to one quarter of the coral reef systems in the world have died, meaning that the polyps have been destroyed and the reefs are left lifeless, to be eventually eroded by the sea”.(National, 12) With such a steady decline in coral, what will be left for our children to view, or for our children’s children? Coral while being an important scientific study is also a boon for most tropical locations. Many such areas have numerous dive shops and operations where tourists can go to view the beauty of the coral reef, not only helping the local economies but informing the masses about coral reef systems. Efforts have been made to help re-establish coral reef systems. One such method practiced by the United States Navy is to scuttle (purposely sink a ship in a certain spot) decommissioned warships. With great cost to itself, averaging 9 million dollars per ship, the Navy is working to help re-establish the reef ecosystems. With the rising cost of gas prices, we are constantly looking towards alternatives to retrieve more crude oil for our consumption needs. One such alternative that is receiving more interest is off-shore drilling platforms. While safe when practiced by a responsible oil company, they still pose a great risk to the surrounding seas. Catastrophes can happen at any moment and millions of crude oil can be quickly spilled, contaminating and killing millions. When oil rigs are running safely, the public welcomes the added oil to market, but when an oil rig fails and spews oil into the surrounding area, it can create a public backlash, as seen in Santa Barbara in 1969. An oil spill near the St. Barbara coastline sent 4 million gallons of crude onto to the outlying beaches. (National, 14) While most oil companies assure us that offshore oil drilling is perfectly safe, they cannot promise that no contaminates will leak into the surrounding waters. Recently in Avila Beach, California, Shell Global had to clean up seepage in the beaches surrounding the city. But the damage didn’t stop there, upon further inspection, it was deemed that contaminates were further spread than previously thought, requiring Shell to repair or rebuild houses and businesses. After the sand along the beaches had been cleaned and new sand shipped in and the entire waterfront was rebuilt, Avila was again a beautiful beach town, but the devastation left it changed, it no longer had the quaint organic feel to it. The rebuilding of Avila Beach had stripped it of its soul. As stewards of our planet and its varying resources, it’s our responsibility to leave this planet in better condition than what we inherited in. As Theodore Roosevelt said, we need to give it to our children, and our children’s children in better condition. Mankind must temper is voracious appetite and learn to respect his surroundings. The ocean is a valuable resource, offering serenity and incomprehensible treasures, and unless something is done to stop the raping of this resource, we will lose it. And our stories will begin with, “when I was a child, the ocean was blue and full of life…”

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