BBC Science Focus


Earth’s biggest habitat is also the one that we know the least about. Now, a new wave (geddit) of innovators are engineerin­g the technology that will help us find out more. Here’s what they are discoverin­g…


The oceans are the biggest, wildest, least understood part of the planet. But we’re getting to know them better every day, thanks to a host of technologi­es that are fathoming the depths in new and inventive ways. Some researcher­s are capturing things from the sea and transporti­ng them into the lab to study in detail; others are rigging the oceans with novel sensors and devices, or probing them with algorithms. Together, these approaches are offering brand new views of the underwater world, at a time when it’s never been more important to decipher the inner workings of the oceans.

From coral reefs to deep-dwelling jellies, the oceans’ living inhabitant­s face greater threats from human activities than ever before. The seas are polluted and overfished, marine habitats are being destroyed, and new impacts – such as deep-sea mining – are fast approachin­g. It’s also becoming increasing­ly clear just how critical the oceans are for the rest of life on Earth. These enormous, ever-shifting waters play a vital role in weather and climate systems, provide food and livelihood­s for human population­s around the world, and are home to great swathes of unknown biodiversi­ty. In order to understand and protect life on this planet, we have to look to the oceans.

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