In ‘The Deep: The Hidden Wonders of Our Oceans and How We Can Protect Them’ Alex Rogers reveals the deep-sea world to be almost beyond imagination.
Covering an area of over 360 million km2, containing 1.3 billion km3 of water, and perhaps 90 per cent of all life, it is the largest ecosystem on Earth. It is also the least known, with estimates that only 0.0001 per cent of the deep-sea floor has been sampled by scientists. We’ve barely scratched the surface of what lives there – and that’s why it needs our protection.
Alex is one of the world’s leading marine biologists. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him since 2004, when we spent several hours talking about deep-sea marine life at the airport while waiting for a plane in Kuala Lumpur. We have collaborated on a number of projects since, including working together to set up the Global Ocean Commission.
While this book could have recounted the 30-year chronology of his pretty amazing career, it is structured to highlight a number of ocean issues: destructive fishing and mining practices; overfishing; pollution; and climate change; with the latter responsible for ocean warming, ocean acidification and deoxygenation. He masterfully opens the deep sea to non-experts, because – as worrying as these issues are – the book is intended as a message of hope.
©Image from The Deep – Rock outcrop on Atlantis Bank Seamount, home to sea fans, sea anemones, sponges, the urchin Dermechinus horridus and the glass sponge Euplectella. Inside each sponge was a male and female shrimp, a new species. IUCN/NERC Seamounts Project.