World Oceans Day: Five Myths For Debunking

June 8, 2017

[Written by BEST Chairman Stuart Hayward] “Five myths about oceans”, is an article published by Steve and Anthony Palumbi in the Washington Post exploring several aspects of the world’s oceans.

No-one in Bermuda can forget that the sea is very much a part of our lives, and those myths resonate with this tiny archipelago.

Myth No 1 – Coastlines are clear boundaries between land and sea – doubtful any self respecting Bermudian ever believed this as all are well aware of tidal action, mangrove forests and hurricanes – the later forcibly dispelling this particular myth!

World Ocean Day Bermuda June 8 2017

Myth No 2 – The deep sea is totally dark. It was work in Bermuda that dispelled this myth when William Beebe took to the abyss off Bermuda in his pioneering bathysphere.

He wrote “We were the first living men to look out at the strange illumination. And it was stranger than any imagination could have conceived.” William Beebe: “Half Mile Down”.

Residents and visitors alike can get a glimpse of this luminescence without the deep dive. The Bermuda Fireworm, Odontosyllis enopla, whose mating rituals, occurring every month of summer on an extremely precise timetable, light up the surface waters spectacularly!

Myth No 3 – Oceans are big enough to dilute pollutants safely. No more, the ocean is full of visible and invisible pollutants. Bermudians find the visible in vast quantities washed up on our shores; one of the invisibles has been recorded for decades at BIOS and shows an alarming upward trend in ocean acidification. The others, such as mercury, are polluting various species of fish—and us.

Myth No 4 – The hottest parts of the oceans are in the tropics. On the surface, perhaps that is true, but the warmest waters in the sea are deeper, in places where the planet’s crust is thin, and the fiery magma runs just below the ocean floor.

Travel back millions of years, and the waters under what is now Bermuda would have run hot as active vents erupted, eventually forming the 3 isolated volcanic peaks [G. J. Butland: Bermuda A New Study] which provided the foundation for the formation of Bermuda.

Myth No 5 – Oceans are experiencing unprecedented changes. Any visitor to the Museum at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo will see that Bermuda has been subjected to numerous changes as the sea levels rose and fell several times over the past thousands of years. Sea creatures have evolved or become extinct.

“What sets today’s transformations apart is not their size or the ocean’s stability until now, but the culprit [human beings], the number and the rate at which these changes are taking place. As Earle and Glover rightly point out, human activity is now altering the oceans at a pace that far outstrips what they have adapted to before.” Steve and Anthony Palumbi

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Category: All, Environment