Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cool new pictures from the Ross Sea

Over at the Huffington Post, there's a gallery of pictures taken onboard a ship travelling throughout the Ross Sea as part of a research mission. It's a great reminder of how vibrant the seas around Antarctica are - and how much is going on, scientifically speaking, in a region that is pretty devoid of humans otherwise. Most of us won't ever get to see the Ross Sea in person. But it's still important, because the Ross Sea is the most intact marine ecosystem remaining on earth, according to a 2008 study (Halpern et al.). It's therefore an unparalleled marine laboratory, not to mention a haven for wildlife. There are some who want to take out about half of one of the top fish predators in the Ross Sea, changing the ecosystem forever. This may not wipe out the toothfish population, but it will have consequences. Others like us, however, say that we should set it aside as a marine park- the fish harvested from the Ross Sea is sold for $20 per pound, so no one will go hungry without it. Humanity would lose a lot, on the other hand, if the Ross Sea becomes subject to increasing human interference in the delicate balance of its ecosystem.

We have one last chance to protect one very special place in the ocean. Look at the slideshow and think about what you'd rather have - a few fish filets, or an amazing marine laboratory that can help us understand how to restore damaged marine ecosystems to health?

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