For those of you who don’t have the time to read a whole book (because you’re too busy attending Science Literacy Week events).
These posters are courtesy of Microfiches, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition (COLC), who have joined forces for Science Literacy Week. This serie of poster is part of an illustrated encyclopedia project by Microfiches, an organization whose aim is to bridge the gap between the research community and the arts.
The deep ocean: home to some surprising species
In the cold deep ocean waters, at depths of more than 1,000 metres, total darkness reigns. The pressure is enormous. These conditions, which at first might seem incompatible with life, are nonetheless home to a diversity of life forms. Coldwater coral reefs, bioluminescent fish, colossal squids and thousands of other species live in the extreme ocean depths. However, 95% of the vast deep ocean plains, underwater volcanoes, hydrothermal vents, and ocean ridges and trenches have yet to be explored.
The blue economy: a balance between use and preservation
With the longest coastline of any country in the world, half of which is in the Arctic, Canada benefits greatly from marine resources. Unfortunately, overfishing, ocean warming and pollution are threatening these resources. The development of a blue economy is aimed at sustainably harvesting the ocean’s resources so as to preserve food and create jobs for coastal inhabitants. The blue economy should use innovation for the common good. A number of emerging industries are contributing to a blue economy such as offshore wind technology, aquaculture and marine biotechnology.
Sustainable fishing: life underwater
Overfishing, unintentional bycatch and habitat destruction have caused marine animal populations to decline by two thirds in the last decade. It is important to harvest marine stocks sustainably: that means leaving enough in the ocean and respecting their habitats. This requires planning, research and monitoring, stricter fishing regulations and controls, evidence-based decision-making and management of environmental impacts. Initiatives to raise public awareness about local sustainable choices available in terms of purchasing seafood products, such as the Exploramer’s Smarter Seafood program, are also necessary.
Ocean literacy: ensuring its sustainability
The Earth has one large interconnected ocean. It shapes the continents, influences the climate and makes the Earth habitable. Canada’s marine biodiversity is remarkable, and the extent of ocean knowledge of its diverse coastal (and some inland) inhabitants is vast. Understanding the ocean’s impact on our lives and, in return, what impact we have on the ocean, is essential for its sustainability. Increasing public awareness promotes responsible behaviour and can enable informed actions towards the ocean and its resources.
An ocean of plastic: from trash cans to our plates
Every year, more than 8 million tonnes of plastic, which was discarded or unrecycled, ends up in the ocean. This plastic breaks down slowly into tiny pieces, from 5 millimeters to just a few microns in size, known as microplastics. They have now been found in every part of the global ocean as well as embedded in Arctic sea ice. Zooplankton at the bottom of the food chain ingest these microplastics, which are then found in the fish that we eat. Plastics in any form cause considerable damage to marine life: suffocation, strangulation, injury and death. They can also pose a threat to human health, to coastal livelihoods and tourism.
Sea ice: adapting to change
At the end of the summer, a deep freeze takes hold in the Arctic and cools the ocean. As the first ice crystallizes, it grows to form a sheet of floating sea ice. Sea ice is vital for marine life in the Arctic and for Inuit who rely on it for food, livelihoods, transportation and cultural sustenance. Sea ice also helps to maintain Arctic temperatures and regulate global climate. However, due to global warming, the Arctic sea ice is melting. It is becoming less reliable and more dangerous to travel on. Inuit have to adapt their hunting strategies and are at greater risk when travelling on the ice.