A Simple Compulsion

By Jason Murphy. First published 15/12/2017

Having recently returned from a month of travelling and diving in Indonesia I have realized that I cannot go on as normal. I must make a change. Writing this post is my first step along that path.

As a diver I have come to understand that local conservation efforts experience wins and losses in thousands of locations around the world on a daily basis, and while potential solutions for managing our oceans have never been more plentiful the sheer scale and urgency of the problems of destructive fishing practices, pollution and reef destruction caused by rising sea temperatures are such that effective change requires rapid global action.

But I am also struck by how personal the struggles are for individuals at every level.

Sealives will be my project to more fully understand the broader issues and put them in context of the daily lives of those involved.

I have started by researching the 29 Reefs that are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites that according to climate change models are most under threat.

It takes 10-15 years for a reef to recover from a bleaching event, of which there have been only three in our history – all taking place within the last 30 years, and we can now project when the frequency of bleaching events will increase to the degree that there will not be enough time for a full recovery between them.

Sites projected to encounter severe stress at least twice-per-decade within the next five years are Cocos Island National Park (Costa Rica), Galápagos Islands (Ecuador), Komodo National Park (Indonesia) and Phoenix Islands Protected Area (Kiribati).

I was diving in Komodo only two weeks ago. The thought that healthy reefs I have seen with my own eyes will be destroyed – will have literally died and rotted away – within the next ten years is as difficult to comprehend as it is seemingly impossible to prevent, but there are conservationists and locals who live there with that knowledge day-in day-out.

I need to make some plans. I need to get my camera going.