On World Oceans Day, I asked the online marine science and conservation community to tweet their favorite facts about the ocean using the hashtag #OceanFacts . Dozens of people joined the discussion, and more than 300 #OceanFacts were contributed. These tweets cover a variety of topics, from marine invertebrates, fish, sharks, and marine mammals to facts about the ocean itself and conservation policy. The discussion also inspired a great deal of humorous posts, including an entire spinoff #OceanFibs hashtag. Some of my favorite #OceanFacts tweets are saved in the Storify below.
In the past four years, we took our readers from the remote shoals of the Skeleton Coast to the unfathomable depths of the western Pacific. We touched the coasts of every continent, plumbed the depth of every ocean. Throughout this shared journey, the unspoken, implicit rationale, the very heart of our passion, the reason that any of this is worth doing, is that the ocean is awesome. When I say awesome, I don’t mean awesome in some mundane, biblical sense of fear and wonder when staring into the face of god; I’m talking about something much greater than our fragile brains can comprehend.
We have sailed so far, in these four years, and in this voyage I fear that we have found ourselves, like Ishmael, in “the damp, drizzly November of [our] souls.” The conversation at Southern Fried Science has changed, become more cynical, fatalistic, and driven by threats facing the ocean, rather than reasons why we value it. What once was a sea of boundless potential is now cast in bondage to statistics, benefit analyses, weights and measures, action items. In a way, this shift was inevitable. The ocean is in trouble, the world is changing, and the less we understand it, the more we will lose. Without someone to mark the ledger, to take the bearing, the ship is lost.