An Interview with Dr. Sylvia Earle about the Health and Future of the Oceans

By April 7, 2011Ocean News

No one knows the Oceans better than Dr. Sylvia Earle. For the past 50 years, Dr. Earle has explored the Ocean as a spectator and an Ocean Scientist. Unfortunately, she has not seen the health of the Ocean improve within her career, but decline. The Houston Chronicle’s Science Guy, Eric Berger, had the chance to catch up to a busy Dr. Earle and ask a few questions on the Health of the Oceans and their future. I’ve posted a portion of the transcript here, but please click on the link below to read the entire interview:

Were you surprised by the resiliency of the Gulf of Mexico following the BP spill?

I think we have overestimated the resiliency of the Gulf of Mexico. The oil isn’t “gone.” We have yet to understand the magnitude of the impact. Just because we see less of it on the surface and along the beaches and marshes, the reproductive cycles of plankton, shrimp, fish, dolphins, the whole system, has been altered as a consequence of the 5 million barrels or so of oil and 2 million gallons of toxic dispersants that were applied. You can’t just put that much material into a big body of water and expect it’s not going to have an impact.

Have you seen evidence yet that the reproductive cycles of marine life have been harmed?

I think we are too eager to have quick answers to questions that do not lend themselves readily to short-term analysis. Prince William Sound (where the Exxon Valdez ran aground), for example, was 1989. It’s taken a couple of decades to begin to realize the apparent impact on sea otters, the herring, all these populations which appear to have taken a hit. You have to qualify these things because it is not a laboratory where everything can be quantified. We just don’t have good data about what existed before the spill, so it’s very tricky trying to gauge the absolute impact after the spill.

But you can make reasonable guesses, can’t you?

Read the rest of the interview here.

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