“60 years ago, when I began exploring the ocean, no one imagined that we could do anything to harm it,” says pioneering diver and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle.
How wrong we were. In the time since her career began, the over harvesting of whales, sharks, and once reliable staples of the human diet has disrupted the food chain with impacts for species at all levels. Fertilizers from agricultural runoff have fed massive blooms of algae that choke off other forms of life. Pollution in the form of diluted chemicals as well as microscopic pieces of plastic and large items wreak havoc for fish, mammals, and birds alike. Even immaterial activities can have a negative impact: the deafening sounds of industry and sonar can cause injury and impede communication among whales and dolphins.