The Sea is Confused : Humanity is Tied to Ocean Health

A lonely shoreline, a lost dream. The sea is confused

Throughout humanity’s history,  we have taken from the sea and thrived. Its seemingly endless bounty rises up, beckoning us out into the yawning expanse and unfathomable depths.

All is tied, eventually, to the sea.

But the sea is a fearsome and unrelenting provider. It can be pushed too far. The lessons of the past are known, but too often not learned.

The Cod and the Whale of legend are gone.

The sea is confused

Relentless and rising demand leave top trophic species progressively depleted. Floating fish factories scoop up vast swaths of biomass. Dead zones expand as oceans absorb more heat, carbon dioxide, and phosphorous. Bits and pieces of our detritus wash into the sea, a constant flow of waste and thoughtless avarice.

A “confused ocean” drives the hunt further out to sea, further down the marine food web.

We push our planetary partner from all sides at our peril.

Photo by Igor Goryachev on Unsplash

Retired Harbormaster Talks of a Changing Ocean Environment

Monterey Bay harbormaster watches the changing ocean environment

Fisheries research update:

Harbormaster speaks of changes in fisheries and marine habitat in Monterey Bay and the north-central California coast. 

I recently interviewed Steve Scheiblauer, the Harbormaster for the City of Monterey. Scheiblauer is set to retire in early 2017, but for the past 21 years, he’s been managed one of the world’s most iconic natural harbors.

Scheiblauer has spent a career on west coast harbors. Before coming to Monterey in 1995, he spent 20 years as the harbormaster for Santa Cruz, Monterey’s neighbor to the north.

He has decades of accumulated knowledge and experience on the workings of the sea and the men and machines

Scheiblauer also chairs the Board of Directors for the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust. Talking with Steve is part of ongoing research into west coast fisheries and ocean health.

He became the Harbormaster for Santa Cruz in the mid-seventies and, since 1995, for Monterey.

The position of Harbormaster for an iconic waterfront like Monterey requires the manner of a diplomat, the savvy of a negotiator, and a feel for the sea.

After more than three decades on or near the water, Steve has an insight into what most of the rest of us take for granted.

My final question to him was “How has the ocean changed from your perspective?”

There are long, decadal cycles of temperature through ocean currents, impacting local fisheries. Steve talks of the crash of sablefish in the ’40’s as one example. There are patterns to those who are willing to observe them.

But now, he says, “the ocean is very confused.”

Featured image credit: Travis Wise, courtesy Flickr