For perhaps the first time ever, the world’s oceans have a health record — and it’s revealing clues about what might be behind symptoms of ocean improvements or declines alike.
A study by a team of researchers from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at UC Santa Barbara and Conservation International synthesized five years’ worth of vital signs on a host of indicators — ranging from water quality to food provision to tourism potential — and found that while overall ocean health appears to be stable, the oceans around many of the 220 countries analyzed are changing, and in many cases not for the better. Their results are published in the journal PLOS ONE.
“With five years of assessments about where oceans are healthy and not as healthy, we finally have enough information to get a clear signal of what might be causing changes,” said lead author Ben Halpern, executive director of NCEAS, referring to the Ocean Health Index, the innovative tool his team used to make the assessments.
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