The Future of the Ocean

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Image by httsan/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/hartanto_/5719232066/">Flickr</a>

Growing up in the 1960s, spending summers with my family camping at the beach, I was always eager to be the first out on the sand, just after dawn, to see what the receding tide had left behind. Year after year, the ebb and flow of the tides seemed to symbolize the unchanging immensity of the sea. Today, however, the ocean seems not only limited, but more vulnerable with each passing day.  

The litany of problems and threats seems never ending:

  • Overfishing has nearly eliminated most large predator fishes – the sharks, and tunas and billfishes – and dramatically cut fish production for food and economic wellbeing. 
  • Spilled oil threatens to disrupt entire ocean ecosystems, with currents carrying tar and grime that should instead carry larvae and life. 
  • Coastal development and pollution threatens coastal wetlands and other habitats upon which so many seafood species depend.

 The very fabric of the sea – including the global current system that links the world ocean – seems on the verge of unraveling. Warming and acidifying water, rising seas and intensifying storms are destroying coral reefs, drowning nearshore nurseries, spreading exotic species, and wreak  havoc  on already teetering marine ecosystems.

While every one of these threats is real, in every case – and in the aggregate – there is great hope for the future of the seas. My posts here at EDF Voices will explain what can be done in this generation to ensure that our grandchildren will have the opportunity to walk a beach with wide eyes, sharing its vibrant life.

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Douglas Rader

Douglas Rader

Douglas is EDF's chief ocean scientist, advising our leadership on the scientific aspects of policies and programs that affect oceans.

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