I am deathly afraid of sharks. I saw "Jaws" when I was 6 and my relationship with the ocean was effectively over. My fear was so acute, I was convinced I'd encounter a shark at the deep end of the pool.

At 28, I attempted to conquer my fear of sharks by learning to Scuba dive. Once again, I never made it out of the pool.

Today, at 36, the only time I've managed to master my fear is when shark ends up on my dinner plate. It's only happened a few times. But since my Equator HD interview with marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle, it won't happen again.

Why? Because when you eat a shark, you're eating history: the lineage of marine life that the shark has consumed. You'll get an intimate understanding of this on Nature's "Sharkland." The stunning (and terrifying) documentary takes you to the waters of Southern Africa, where 140 different species of sharks - normally found oceans apart because of their varying thermal requirements - co-exist.

Conjure up an image of some cute baby seals. Their parents have just plucked up the courage to leave their shallow water to go deeper to feed. Now cut to cold-blooded sharks stalking the prey. The baby seals are now orphans.

Tiger sharks piercing the shells of sea turtles -
Mako sharks chasing tuna at speeds of 35 miles an hour
Zebra sharks squirming into crevices to devour mollusks, and blue sharks sniffing out a single drop of blood in 25 million drops of water. "Sharkland" goes into the belly of the beast and offers an up-close (too close) look at one of the sharkiest coasts in the world.

In the shallow and in the deep, ranging in size from 3 feet to up to 50 feet, the aggressive, cold-blooded predators make a meal of most of the ocean. It's a vicious cycle of feeding and becoming feed.

Which brings us back to our dinner plates. Every time you order shark, you are eating the snails, the fish, the plankton, and the turtles - along with everything they ingested. Unfortunately, that doesn't just include seafood.

Our oceans have become humanity's dumping ground. Plastics photodegrade into smaller bits of plastic that fish mistake for food. Oil and chemicals seep into our waters. Heavy metals and PCBs, and other pollutants settle into fish fat and concentrate as they move up the food chain. Everything we flush and throw away work their way into our oceans and streams. And ultimately, back onto our plates. A 20 year old fish eaten in 20 minutes.

Not what you thought you were having for dinner, huh?

We've depleted about 90% of our fish stocks. "Sharkland" reminds of what we stand to lose. Fears aside, it's time to have more reverence for our oceans and all the life within them.


Getting the Ocean's mass in perspective

As scientist Jim Lovelock observed, "Although the weight of the Oceans is 250 times that of the atmosphere, it is only one part in 4,000 of the weight of the Earth."

1/4000 = 0.00025%

Therefore, only 0.00025% of Earth's mass is Water. Yet we tend to think of our Oceans as a vast and endless resource, free to everyone.

Scientists also point out, "If the Earth were a globe 12 inches in diameter, the average depth of the ocean would be no more than the thickness of a piece of paper, and even the Deepest Ocean Trench would only be a tiny dent, one third of a millimeter deep. (0.3 mm = 0.01 in)

Since the Ocean's mass is less than 0.001% that of Earth's mass, our Oceans can more accurately be appreciated as the priceless public reservoirs they are, the only living Oceans in the entire universe. Mars might have some frozen mud.

Knowing the Earth's "surface" is 70.8% water, often leads a popular conclusion... there might be more Ocean than Earth.

Unfortunately, this popular conclusion leads to a global assumption... that pollution might be absorbed and simply rendered harmless... within the Ocean's vastness.

Millions of Tons of toxic chemicals are discarded into rivers worldwide, while the industry leaders "cross their fingers" in a futile false hope that the chemicals will quietly be absorbed by the living Oceans.

To compound the problem, millions of tons of plastic, also dumped 24/7, by the barge load, into our Oceans, does not "break down" for almost 1000 years, but it does break into tiny bits of plastic "dust" or "snow. Then the PCB's, that are now major contaminants in the Ocean, are attracted to the plastic bits like a magnetic sponge. Marine animals can't differentiate the plastic snow from plankton, so they eat the plastic bits, and become toxic with PCB's, causing immune system failure.

As the toxins slowly distribute worldwide by the Ocean's conveyer belt currents, the entire food chain is affected, from the tiny coral polyps that make world's largest reefs, to whales feeding on plankton and other particles suspended in the water column, including PCB laden plastic "dust" or "snow".

An impairment to the immune systems of living creatures is being observed globally, from the tiny coral polyps, to the giant killer whales, and finally the humans themselves, seated at the top of the food chain, consuming the industrial leftovers, that will not bio-degrade in nature for thousands of years.

ATSDR points out that every child born from a mother who consumed Great Lakes fish during their pregnancies were three times (3X) more likely to have lower IQs and twice (2X) as likely to be TWO grade levels in reading comprehension behind their peers. Other studies have shown children who's mothers consumed PCB-contaminated fish had lower birth rates, reduced motor reflexes and neuromuscular function, poor short-term and long-term memory, weakened immune systems and greater susceptibility to infections, among other problems.

Now along with water treatment plant sludge, PCB's are being dumped onto agricultural land or incinerated into the atmosphere by industry in another futile attempt to rid themselves of their toxins and their responsibility. The world's top scientists are scrambling just to name the new diseases, as soon as they can "discover them," and counting the countless number of species that just became extinct, all the while the oil emperors fiddle in the stock market making world record profits and dump the toxins down the hatch.

I know this is part hard to believe, it was for me also, so please just Google it.

As a free nation... we the people... have spent more of our own tax dollars for exploring remote space and the mud on Mars than protecting the only "Living Oceans" in the entire universe while the planet become less inhabitable for humans. Who is really steering this over-heating planet, big business persons? Is bowing to the $tock market index given a higher priority than the World's Ocean Health index, in Washington...

As we awaken to the collapse of our Oceans, we begin to see the consequences of giving the "green light" to industry for dumping millions of tons of "known toxins" into the only known living Oceans in the entire universe.

At age thirteen, Jacques-Yves Cousteau's book, "The Silent World" was presented to me by my scuba instructor, when I was first certified as a scuba diver. I was thrilled with swimming and breathing underwater, enjoying a view of nature he referred to as the "Silent World."

Today, Jacques-Yves Cousteau must be looking down on the Oceans, and the dying coral reefs, with salty tears in his eyes.

Your comments are welcome,

Larry (at) OpenDoorWorld.com

Key Largo, Florida


Old Chinese proverb: "If we don't change our direction soon, surely we will end up where we are headed...

Oh my... what did they dump into Our Oceans...

Article: Getting the Ocean's mass in perspective

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