I think the basic answer is that it isn’t, unless of course we care to.
We are now beginning, as a species, to generally appreciate, if not understand, how the natural world actually works. How these systems and all their component parts play a vital role in the stability and health of the world in which we live.
We do of course try to distance ourselves from nature by building and living in completely artificial surroundings. We grow food artificially, we drastically reduce the immediate effects of weather and we regulate temperature and humidity in our technological existences. However, the luxury of this ability is not given to all mankind, only the ruling classes, the rich and well off. It is certainly not afforded to wildlife of any kind.
We know that with our technology we can do wonderful things, but unless it is afforded to all, then ultimately there will be wars and conflict as natural resources are eaten up by those who are generally far removed from them.
We can continue to eradicate species and habitats across the globe in the name of progress and fiscal gain, and as far as I am concerned there is no one looking down upon us from afar to judge our actions. We do all this on our own. I do not believe we will be either rewarded or punished in an afterlife. But, those generations who follow us will have to bear the consequences of our greed.
The oceans contribute greatly to our weather, they help generate the oxygen we breathe and deal most effectively with the carbon dioxide we generate as a bi-product of simply living. But the oceans are not a mechanical disposal system or gifted with endless supplies of food for our tastes. The oceans are a living breathing entity. A delicate and complex giant organism with countless parts that are all intertwined in their contribution to the diversity, which we know, is so crucial to the continued well being and evolution of any ecosystem.
As a species we are quite incredible and as far as we know quite unique within our universe. We are clever; we are compassionate, strong and successful. Yet we blunder into strife and poverty by choosing to drastically alter the very nature of the world that made us what we are. The future of the world is literally in our hands, and it falls down precisely to what we choose to do with it.
As a species that has the ability to reason beyond our own immediate circumstances, surely we must choose a world to live in that celebrates all the incredible wonders that have been created here since the planet was first in its cosmic infancy. The simple wonder of seeing a whale breech, a shoal of fish searing through the water in silvery unison, the glorious colours of coral, the magnificence and the shear scale of plants and animals that make our seas. Why would we want to live without all this? Why would we deny our children the opportunity to witness and be part of this great and wonderful planet? Are we so really self indulgent to be satisfied with saying to the younger generation. “Oh, you should have seen it in my day………”
The life of a Great White Shark
The great white shark, known scientifically as Carcharodon carcharias, embodies the apex predator of the ocean. This majestic creature’s life is a testament to survival, adaptability, and the intricate balance of the marine ecosystem.
Born in the waters off coastal regions, a great white shark begins its life as a pup within the safety of nurseries, typically found in warm, shallow waters. The pups, measuring around 5 feet in length at birth, are immediately equipped with an innate instinct for survival.
As they grow, great whites embark on a journey, venturing into deeper and cooler waters, often covering vast distances across the ocean. These apex predators are perfectly adapted hunters, relying on their impressive senses to detect prey. Their acute sense of smell, aided by specialized sensory organs known as ampullae of Lorenzini, helps detect the faintest traces of blood in the water from several miles away.
Feeding primarily on seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals, great whites are known for their powerful jaws lined with rows of razor-sharp teeth. Their hunting techniques often involve stealth, utilizing their streamlined bodies to approach prey from below and striking with incredible speed and force.
Despite their fearsome reputation, great whites play a crucial role in maintaining the health of marine ecosystems. As top predators, they help regulate the population of prey species, preventing overpopulation that could disrupt the balance of the food chain.
Reproduction among great white sharks is a slow and careful process. Females reach sexual maturity between 12 and 18 years of age, while males mature earlier, around 9 to 10 years old. Mating occurs through complex courtship rituals, with females giving birth to a small number of live pups after a gestation period of about 12 to 18 months.
However, the life of a great white shark is not without challenges. Human activities, including overfishing, pollution, and habitat destruction, pose significant threats to their population. Additionally, despite their formidable presence, great whites are vulnerable and face dangers from entanglement in fishing gear and accidental bycatch.
Despite these challenges, great white sharks continue to inspire awe and fascination among scientists and nature enthusiasts. Their presence in the ocean serves as a reminder of the delicate balance and interconnectedness of marine life, emphasizing the need for conservation efforts to protect these magnificent creatures for future generations to admire and study.
Want to learn more about sharks? Visit The Shark Trust website: www.sharktrust.org
Book Review: Sea Mammals
This is a book packed with information about some of the most iconic and charismatic marine species. I have a particular soft spot for the pinnipeds, seals and sea lions, due to some incredible diving encounters over the years. So these were the pages I first turned to.
Once picked up this book is hard to put down. Polar Bears, Narwhal, Sea Otters, manatees, whales and dolphins adorn the pages with beautiful photographs and illustrations. Each turn of the page lures you in to discover more about a species you love, one you want to learn more about, some you have never heard of and even includes the details of fascinating animals that are sadly now extinct.
I think what I love most about this book is how it is organised. Rather than simply lump the animals into taxonomic groupings, they are put into chapters that tell you a story about them. Whether it is the story of their evolution, how they were discovered, their biology, behaviour or need for conservation. Once you have decided on an animal to delve deeper into, each species has its own story, as well as key information about size, diet, distribution, habitat and conservation status.
There is plenty to enjoy in this delightful book. Plenty to learn too. As the cold dark nights draw in, I can see myself delving into this book time and time again. This is a perfect gift for anyone that loves the ocean and its inhabitants. Or just treat yourself.
What the publisher says:
From the gregarious sea otter and playful dolphins to the sociable narwhal and iconic polar bear, sea mammals are a large, diverse, and increasingly precious group. In this book, Annalisa Berta, a leading expert on sea mammals and their evolution, presents an engaging and richly illustrated introduction to past and present species of these remarkable creatures, from the blue whale and the northern fur seal to the extinct giant sperm whale, aquatic sloth, and walking sea cow.
The book features more than 50 individual species profiles, themed chapters, stunning photographs, and specially commissioned paleo-illustrations of extinct species. It presents detailed accounts of these mammals’ evolutionary path, anatomy, behavior, habitats, and conservation. And because these are key species that complete many food chains and have the widest influence of all sea life, the book also offers insights into a broad variety of marine worlds today and in the future.
About the Author:
Annalisa Berta is professor emerita of biology at San Diego State University. A specialist in the anatomy and evolutionary biology of marine mammals, especially baleen whales, she formally described a skeleton of the early pinniped Enaliarctos. She is the author of Return to the Sea: The Life and Evolutionary Times of Marine Mammals and the editor of the award-winning Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises: A Natural History and Species Guide.
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Published: 26th September, 2023
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