An interview with Dr. Lance Morgan, CEO and President of the Marine Conservation Institute, covers a wide range of marine ecology issues.
Dr. Morgan answers the question “What is so fascinating about animals that would make you want to study them?”
“There are many more different types of animals in the sea than there are on land. Many people don’t realize it but 99% of the habitable space on Earth is in the ocean. This has led to all kinds of diverse and crazy creatures, and yet we know more about the surface of the moon than we know about the deep ocean. Over 70% of earth’s surface is covered by oceans, and over 60% of it is a mile or more in depth.
Despite this there is a lot of work to be done, because many of the animals in the ocean have been overfished. Most of the 21,000 species of fish (which largely are in the ocean) are edible, and our insatiable appetite for seafood now brings with it a host of problems for marine life. For example: (1) leatherback sea turtles have lived on the planet for almost 100,000 million years, pretty much doing the same things that they do today, but even though they were on Earth before the dinosaurs, they are going extinct today because ofhuman activities (bycatch in fisheries, and overharvesting of their eggs); (2) The United Nations reports that all 17 of the world’s major fishing areas have reached or exceeded their natural limits; (2) some of the most productive fishing grounds, the Grand Banks off Canada and New England’s Georges Bank are only a fraction of what they once were; (3) The World Conservation Union lists 1,081 fish worldwide as threatened or endangered; (4) roughly 106 Pacific salmon stocks are already extinct and dozens more are seriously depleted; and (5) we have so altered the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem that it takes the few remaining oysters more than a year to filter the entire estuary — a feat which once occurred three times every day.”