Ocean commotion

May 2011. It’s a challenging time for our oceans and seas. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the radiation leak at the Fukushima nuclear plant are stark reminders of the serious threats facing the marine world that have escalated sharply in recent decades.

Climate change tops the list of threats. As oceans absorb man-made carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, they become more acidic. This ocean acidification is accelerating at an alarming rate, harming marine ecosystems and species. Coral bleaching caused by increasing temperatures is affecting not only coral reefs, but the tourism and fishing industries and the coastal communities who rely on healthy seas.

But the oceans also provide an effective weapon in the fight against climate change. Coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, wetlands, seagrasses and salt marshes trap and store huge amounts of carbon. And marine-based renewable energy such as offshore wind and tidal power is a promising way to help reduce carbon emissions. Read more

Did you know?

  • More than 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by the oceans
  • About half of the Earth's population lives on or near the coast


Highlights

Whale photograph

CONSERVATION PROJECT: Following Flex

IUCN scientists track Flex the western gray whale to try to protect the species from oil and gas exploration activities.

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Offshore wind farm

EXPERT OPINION: Managing offshore energy impacts

IUCN's Claude Ganty outlines the environmental implications of the global drive for offshore renewable energy.

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Ameer Abdulla with a Hawksbill Turtle working on a marine survey examining the damage caused by tsunami in the Indian Ocean

SCIENTISTS IN ACTION: Ameer Abdulla

IUCN's Ameer Abdulla at work to save the treasures of the oceans.

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Oceans and energy: Message from the Director General

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