Learning with the silence

Article by Katia Silva, Marine Biologist and Guide at Cabo Trek

The global COVID-19 pandemic gives us all pause about what the future holds. Our focus and attention are on all those hurt by this terrible disease. But this is also a time of deep reflection about society and the world we’ll inhabit when this scourge is over. It is also a moment to reflect on the prospects for the ocean, one of the planet’s fundamental life-support systems, making it vital to human health and well-being.
The reduction in the ship traffic in the ocean has been compared as a giant human experiment, has had scientists racing to find out the effect on marine life.
The world has facing a moment of truth. The cetacean researchers have an opportunity to listen and that opportunity will not appear again in a lifetime.
There is a generation of marine animals that have known a quiet oceans. Many studies show that in areas with intense boat traffic whales call less and ship noise was associated with chronic stress in whales.
On the other hand, illicit fishing is likely to increase as well. A less secure ocean will be less well-managed and less able to sustainably provide resources like fish over the long term. A reduction in operational ocean science could undermine stock assessments and management regimes even in currently sustainable fisheries.
The blue economy, including both those who work at sea and those whose livelihoods depend on it, presents a unique challenge for efforts to address the Covid-19 pandemic.
The marine environment can only benefit from the reduced pressure on stocks, however. While evidence of a recovery in marine life is still anecdotal, increases in the presence of mammals such as killer whales, dolphins, sharks and seals have been recorded in areas where they hadn’t been seen in decades.
The noise and the activity on the water have diminished. These animals have a culture that is passed through generations and the young ones are probably feeling curious about areas that were part of their territory decades ago.
To be sure, the recovery of diversity and fish numbers is a slow process and the experience in marine protected areas shows a full recovery can take as much as decades. Moreover, the nature is taking a breath from human activities.
We are part of the natural world and we depend on it. It is time to rethink our habits and choices. Everyone can make an impact every single day.

dive cabo_______________________

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