Community, Environment

The Oceans are Dying – seriously.

I heard an Dr. Lisa Gershwin speak on national radio today of how oceans are dying.

I have previously blogged or reblogged how our oceans are drowning from plastic, but the threat does not end there.

Effluents funnelled into the oceans, intentionally, or unintentionally, means that algal will flourish and fish will soon cease to exist, as will all the predators in the oceans. Why? The resultant growth of various kinds of algae means that the oceans are reduced to a hypoxic or anoxic waste pool, in which the only species to thrive will be Jellyfish!  Jellyfish once ruled the oceans ( for 2 billions years, apparently) and will do so again. Dr Gershwin has just released a book detailing the rise of jellyfish in response to the decline of most other species. She even named a new species of jellyfish, found off the coast of Australia, ‘Bazinga’ after Sheldon from the popular TV show, “The Big Bang Theory”, because it was such a surprise to find a species that is thriving given the the current state of the oceans.

Here is an excerpt from the Science Show Podcast:

The World’s oceans have passed a silent but significant tipping point. They are on their way to a different state, where all manner of algae and jellyfish are abundant, in place of the diverse life which has existed for so long.

Over-fishing, pollution and increased greenhouse gases dissolving in from the atmosphere are changing ocean water chemistry and applying combined pressure on ocean ecology. Our oceans are undergoing radical simplification. Habitat destruction is widespread.  Complex ecologies such as coral reefs and food webs topped by big animals are being replaced by simple ecosystems dominated by simple animals and plants, featuring boom and bust cycles, and disease. 

Now I expect you  will anticipate I will say, “So we have to just clean up our act and change our habits now” but alas I cannot. This expert, is convinced that the point at which this destructive trend became irreversible, passed some time ago, without us, the wise man, knowing it had, and doing almost nothing to stop it happening.

Now the oceans are way beyond our help: for there is not a thing we can do to prevent the further extinction of corals reef, acidification of the oceans (see more on that at the ABC radio podcast here) and decrease of oxygen levels in the water. We will have green tides, red tides, brown tides, and blue, green and perhaps polka dot algae blooms from coast to coast. There will be no whales, no penguins, no lobster or oysters, the life in our oceans will be gone, except of course for the jellyfish.

Algal Bloom off China's coast
Algal Bloom off China’s coast

So, does Lisa have some words of advice in coping with awful future?

She does,  and it is only one word: ADAPT!

Foreboding advice to ponder about, indeed.

Ecological dead zone Photo from Radio National podcast: The Rise of Slime

And just after I hear this on the radio, I step out of my car and are confronted by this view:


It is clear the jellyfish has started this takeover in earnest!

For more information hear Dr Gershwin’s podcast on Radio National Science Show.

And details of her book are found below:


On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean

Lisa-ann Gershwin

With a Foreword by Sylvia Earle
456 pages | 16 color plates, 1 halftone, 4 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2013
Our oceans are becoming increasingly inhospitable to life—growing toxicity and rising temperatures coupled with overfishing have led many marine species to the brink of collapse. And yet there is one creature that is thriving in this seasick environment: the beautiful, dangerous, and now incredibly numerous jellyfish. As foremost jellyfish expert Lisa-ann Gershwin describes in Stung!, the jellyfish population bloom is highly indicative of the tragic state of the world’s ocean waters, while also revealing the incredible tenacity of these remarkable creatures.

2 thoughts on “The Oceans are Dying – seriously.”

  1. Well, I don’t like. But, I pressed the button. Maybe a sign of what humans do – they go on pressing buttons, go on doing what they/we always do. She says it’s already too late and that we must adapt. I will try to adapt, but I will resist as long as I can, trying to believe there is some way to fight our fate. Maybe I do not know how to on my own, but at least I can do something. And read the texts before I press the button.


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