Armed With Many Weapons, We Are Killing Our Oceans

I meet world-renowned undersea photojournalist Brian Skerry at Legal Seafoods, across from the New England Aquarium, where he's the explorer in residence.

He orders a chicken Caesar salad.

"I refrain from eating much seafood due to environmental concerns," he explains, before launching into a depressing litany of problems facing the world's marine ecosystems.

"I have to remain optimistic, because I do believe there's always hope," says Skerry, who spends more than half of every year underwater, diving with harp seals in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and green sea turtles in Kiribati. "That said, it's very discouraging what I'm seeing."


What he's seeing are oceans in crisis, their health potentially at a tipping point: gratuitously destructive overfishing, endangered underwater "big game" (100 million sharks killed each year), dying coral reefs, and subtle but potentially catastrophic shifts that are almost certainly due to climate change.

It's not just ruthless whaling and foolhardy fishing practices that are plaguing the world's oceans. Underwater, things are bad all over — from the acidifying Atlantic to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. A perfect storm of climate change, pollution, and rapacious global fishing practices has the potential to gravely imperil Earth's oceans and their intricate, highly sensitive ecosystems.

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