Global Ocean in Crisis
& Stewart, 2010
by Alanna Mitchell
Reporting from nine different oceanic locations around the globe,
environmental reporter Alanna Mitchell investigates the rapidly
declining health of the most important biome on Earth, the Ocean.
Mitchell makes personal visits to some of the most ailing seas and
shorelines on the globe, witnesses wide-ranging effects of human
avarice and irresponsibility, and talks to dozens of concerned
scientists about their diagnoses and possible remedies.
visited the Gulf of
Mexico before the BP oil spill, where there were already enormous "dead
zones" where nothing lives because of toxic
Nova Scotia she finds that
industrial fishing has wiped out 90 percent of the predatory
cod, tuna, swordfish, sharks - and is fast
depleting the last 10
She visits a marine laboratory in Plymouth,
scientists are studying a precipitous decline in plankton in
the world's oceans, which she describes as "maybe the most
important question human beings will ever grapple with." Plankton forms
the bottom layer of the entire oceanic food pyramid on which humans
humans are very much dependent.
Burdened with the accumulated weight of
all the dire evidence of an ecosystem in rapid decline, like a patient
on life support, she wonders whether any further study will make a
difference. More tests on a dying patient? Why? And then, unexpectedly,
she finds herself flooded with hopefulness.
the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, Mitchell reports that the corals
that made the reef are dying: "The worldwide decay of coral reefs -
caused by the pollution from land, too much fishing, nasty practices to
capture wild fish for the aquarium trade and waters that are too hot
because of global climate change - has already started to take its
The last research expedition of the book is in the Florida
Keys, where the author is taken to the bottom of the ocean in
submersible Johnson Sea Link.
in my undersea womb, peering at these wondrous, ancient life forms, it
occurs to me that we are in an era that holds out the potential of
magnificent regeneration. We could, if we wanted to, form a new
relationship with our planet. We could become the gentle symbionts we
were meant to be instead of the planetary parasites we have unwittingly
Smoothly written and annotated, this book is a call to arms on the
order of Rachel Carson's Silent
The final chapter, in
which the oceans become lifeless bodies of over-heated and chemically
altered liquids, has yet to be written. There is still time to save the
patient, or at least forestall its demise.
|The issue is that all
over the world,
ocean scientists, in groups of specialists who rarely put their
information together, are finding that global climate change and other
human actions are beginning to have a measurable effect on the ocean.
The vital signs of this critical medium of life are showing clear signs
Grantham Prize Winner, Alanna Mitchell describes her winning book, Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis