The ocean is an ancient place, the source of life itself on this planet. Skipping through the whole of Earth's history, the interaction between humans and the ocean is relatively recent. Yet, in that brief time, the ocean has changed dramatically. In fact, the oceans are now changing so quickly that from one human generation to the next, any given spot in the ocean can look like an entirely different place.
Manra Island, Phoenix Islands (Photo: David Obura)
Here in the Phoenix Islands, the reefs (in theory) should be changing less, or more slowly, than elsewhere in the world, given their distance from human settlements. Yet, the global reach of human impact is visible even here. In 2002-03, there was a catastrophic bleaching event here caused by high temperatures, described earlier by David Obura on this blog. On this trip, we're documenting some of the recovery (or lack thereof) in different places on the reef, on different islands. Yesterday, we saw some rubble reefs with very little coral, and I was struggling to maintain optimism about the fate of the worlds oceans. Today, we saw stunning reefs--covered in live coral, teeming with fish, swimming with turtles and manta rays and sharks. What a difference!
© September 15, 2009 New England Aquarium