Ocean Action Hub

27 May 2020 - One-third of all reef-forming corals and marine mammals are threatened with extinction.

  • This has been caused by over fishing, plastic pollution, ocean trawling and climate change.
  • To truly protect and restore ocean health, scientists have been calling for a bare minimum of 30% of the ocean to be protected

The Sargasso Sea, an area of the Atlantic Ocean between the Caribbean and Bermuda, has bedeviled sailors for centuries. Its namesake — sargassum, a type of free-floating seaweed — and notoriously calm winds have "trapped" countless mariners, including the crew of Christopher Columbus's Santa Maria.

For the past 500 years, most of the stories that have come from the Sargasso have been about stranded ships and sunken vessels. But in recent years scientists have rewritten the sea's narrative. It's not a life-stealing sea, but a life-giving one. The seaweed alone helps support 100 species of invertebrates, 280 species of fish and 23 species of birds.

That's one of the reasons why a team of scientists from 13 universities and institutions included the Sargasso Sea as one of 10 biodiversity hotspots in the high seas — areas of the ocean outside of national boundaries — that their research indicates should be considered for designation as marine protected areas.

Their recommendations, published earlier this year in the journal Marine Policy, took more than a little bit of work to develop.

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Marine Protected Areas