Scientists find that human projects help rebuild sealife – super fast!
Podcast transcript May 3
Hello and welcome to WoW!, the positive podcast! Showing kids that there’s a lot more to the world news than bad news.
I’m Alastair. As a journalist, I’ve worked all over the world. Often I wrote about things going wrong. But people need to know too about what’s going right. That helps us see that there are things we can do to make the world a better place.
So I’m here this week, with my podcast buddy Clarisse, to talk about some news that’s really encouraging about the state of our oceans.
I hope it gives you some ideas too – and maybe a bit of a boost. If you like this podcast, do share it with a friend!
C – Hello Alastair!
A – Hi Clarisse! How are you? And where are you? I guess that’s a silly question these days…
C –Yes, of course, I’m still at home, in Paris.
A – And is there somewhere else you’d like to be ?
C – Well, the weather is nice. You know, I’d really love to be able to walk on the beach.
A – Ah yes, the beach. Most of us haven’t seen the sea in a long time. But there’s been some good news about the sea that I wanted to talk about.
C – What’s that, Alastair?
A – Well, first of all, it’s been great to see pictures of the sea looking cleaner around our coasts – that’s been one of the positive side-effects of us all staying at home because of the corona virus. Have you seen them, Clarisse?
C – Ah you mean like the dolphins swimming in the harbour in Italy?
A – Indeed. And there have been seals and even whales exploring much closer to our cities than they would normally. We’ve been giving them some rare peace and quiet. But there’s also just been some really exciting news that comes after years of scientific research into what’s going on in the sea all around the world.
C – And the scientists have good news for us?
A – Well the research they published in Nature, which is a very serious journal, it shows first of all that there are real problems in the ocean.
C – You mean like plastic waste and chemical pollution?
A – Yes, absolutely Clarisse. And global warming and too much fishing…
C – Aie! Plenty of problems! So where’s the good news?
A – Well the good news from this research is that some things are going right. Actually a lot of things are going right. And they’re not just going right by accident. They’re going right because more people are doing more of the right things.
C – And what are the right things?
A – Well, the easiest way to do something good is to stop doing something bad, right? It can be that simple. And that’s why this news is, for me, really exciting.
C – I’m not sure I understand, Alastair. Aren’t there lots of big, complicated things we need to do to protect the ocean?
A – Well, there may be, Clarisse. But what I’m saying is that not everything is so complicated. Let me give you some examples.
C – Examples are always good!
A – Good. OK. Whales. There’s an example. When children who are listening to us … well, let’s put it like this, when our listeners grandparents were young, people were still hunting whales. In huge numbers. We humans nearly made some kinds of whale extinct. But, well the good news is – we didn’t! And now we’ve stopped hunting them. So that’s doing something right.
C – It doesn’t sound particularly positive, though…
A – Ah but the really positive thing in all this research is how Nature is responding.
C – So it’s not just about people doing things?
A – No. The whales are an example. We used to do a bad thing – hunt whales. Now we’ve stopped doing it. That’s good. But what is really positive is that whales are booming again. For example down near the South Pole. We’ve got some great video on the site – wow-news.eu – of these giants, big as bus, leaping above the waves and crashing down. I think the joy and energy of those humpback whales is a great image of how Nature bounces back.
C – Hm. So are there other examples of Nature coming back?
A – Absolutely, Clarisse. The whales are a very visible symbol of this. But what this new research shows is that all kinds of sea creatures and plants are able to repair themselves, if only we let them. There are great examples of where people have stopped doing other kinds of damage, stopped fishing in certain places – and there are more and more of these ‘no fishing’ zones around the world – or stopped using certain kinds of fishing equipment that causes a lot of damage. And in these places, like Lamlash Bay in Scotland, lobsters and crabs have made a huge comeback. Or in the south of England, where local people have got together to try and rebuild big colonies of oysters in the Solent estuary.
C – They have oysters in England?
A – Yes Clarisse there are oysters in England. I know that nowadays we think of oysters as a bit of a speciality in fancy French restaurants. But the sea where I’m from in Edinburgh used to have one of the biggest oyster beds in the world – it stretched for miles under the sea, which we locals call the Firth of Forth.
C – The Firth of Forth?
A – Yes! It’s not easy to say is it!. Where the river Forth goes into the North Sea, which we call an estuary in English, that’s what we Scots call a Firth. Anyway, 200 years ago, the Firth of Forth was feeding half of Europe with oysters. Which were in those days eaten more by poor people than folk in fancy restaurants.
C – So what happened to the oysters of the Firth of Forth?
A – Well, Clarisse, our ancestors just ate them all. For over a century there basically haven’t been any oysters there. However, now, in other places at least, people are setting up projects to bring back the oysters. That’s great because oysters act as natural cleaning filters on water. So more oysters means healthier sea for everyone. And what the new research shows is that oysters, lobsters all those kinds of creature are capable of coming back really much quicker than people expected.
C – So we really can repair the ocean soon?
A – Well, Carlos Duarte, the professor from Saudi Arabia who led this team of scientists, he reckons that in 20 years, by 2050, a lot of the damage that people have done to the ocean could be fixed.
C – Wow. That’s fast!
A – Well, yes it would be. Of course, it ain’t gonna happen simply. Carlos says we need to keep our promises about holding down global warming – that means doing what we’ve promised to stop burning so much fuel and so on – and we need to start many more conservation projects around our coasts.
C – Hm. So really, maybe it’s too big a problem to solve?
A – Well, I don’t think we should be downhearted Clarisse. I’ve taken away two really important ideas from this news. First, if people do the right thing by the sea, which often just means stopping doing the wrong thing, then the sea is more than capable of doing the repairs itself. Quite fast. And second, big changes start with little things that we can all do. Each and every one of us can make a difference. We can think more about what we eat and how we live from day to day. And we can also look at some of these great examples of projects that often got started by just one or two people getting off the sofa and doing something.
C – Ah you mean even children can make a difference?
A – Absolutely Clarisse. In fact, if you go to the WoW! News website – wow-news.eu – and ask for a copy of our new fanzine, you’ll soon be able to read about one young guy who’s doing exactly that. For our new print edition of WoW! I spoke to Louis-Matisse. He’s 12 and he lives in Cornwall in the southwest of England. You know what he does when he’s not at school?
C – No. What does he do? If I lived in Cornwall, I’d go to the beach!
A – Well, you got it, Clarisse! Louis-Matisse does go to the beach. But when he gets there, he spends his time picking up plastic rubbish. He can fill bags of it. When he gets home, he makes pictures with it. They’re really cool and you can see them on Instagram. His page is called @minibeachcleaner .
C – Wow. And why does he do that?
A – Well, you’ll have to read the interview with Louis-Matisse in WoW. wow-news.eu . But what really impressed me is how clearly Louis-Matisse explains that every single person makes a difference to the planet. Even if we start small.
C – Hm. That’s an important thing to remember, Alastair. I read the story in Wow last week about the astronaut, Jessica, who’s just come back from space and said we need to look after planet Earth.
A – Exactly Clarisse. Jessica and other astronauts all talk about how, when you see the Earth from space, it makes you suddenly realise how beautiful it is and how much we all simply need to look after it. Whatever any of us do has an effect. We have to choose, at the level of each of our lives, whether or not to help Nature.
C – But the really great news this week is that if we choose to help, then Nature will do the rest herself!
A – Perfectly put, Clarisse!
C – Ok, I’m going to go and read wow – and dream about going to the beach soon. I hope!
A – That’s sounds good, Clarisse. Enjoy your daydreams!
And thank you for listening to WoW! News, the positive podcast.
If you’ve found it interesting, do tell a friend about us. And if you feel inspired to get involved in making a difference, do go to the website, wow-news.eu, and drop us a line to tell us. That’s it from me. I’m Alastair. I’ll be back with Clarisse next week. Until then, stay home, stay safe and keep … positive!