Wow Man …. That’s Deep
Last week, Victor Vescovo took a 35,853-foot dive in a submersible into the Mariana Trench’s Challenger Deep, setting the record for deepest dive in history in the process. A few weeks ago, Katie Bouman became a household name when she, along with an international team, announced their success in imaging the first black hole.
Both of these discoveries show the continuing need to explore distant stars, galaxies, and black holes, as well as our ocean, which we know so little about, especially when you consider life on Earth depends upon it. Unfortunately, one of these accomplishments also highlighted the negative impact we’re having on our planet. While exploring the ocean floor four hours below the surface, Vescovo made a startling find — “man-made contamination,” or trash. As we continue to explore our ocean, it’s clear there must also be parallel efforts to clean up and restore its natural health and beauty. Maybe we’ll learn from our ocean mistakes and do a better job with the rest of the universe.
It’s not just technologies that are advancing and letting us discover new depths and astronomical objects — there are also changes in who is doing the exploring. Back in 1960, Lieutenant Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard set the record for the deepest ocean dive, which was carried out with extensive federally funded, developed, and operated technology by the U.S. Navy. In comparison, Vescovo is a private American businessman. Investments by philanthropists, particularly when it comes to ocean exploration, are growing in terms of capability, capacity, and importance, and we’re pleased to have some of these philanthropic organizations, such as the Moore Foundation and Vulcan, Inc., as COL members. As was discussed repeatedly at our recent Public Policy Forum, the future of ocean policy requires the inclusion of, and partnership activities by, the broad stakeholder spectrum, including philanthropists, academia, industry, aquariums, and the federal government. This will give us the best possible chance to clean up the messes we’ve made in ocean and to develop future ocean policies that ensure a well-understood, healthy, productive ocean … and maybe even oceans on other planets at some point.
Tropical and subtropical fish are taking up residence on shipwrecks and other sunken structures off the North Carolina coast. This pattern may continue or even accelerate in coming years given predictions of warming oceans under climate change, a new study co-led by Duke University scientists suggests.
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