BBC Science Focus
AN OCEAN OF MYSTERIES
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.