Oceans ‘dying very quickly:’ sailor

Posted: 07/07/2011 in all marine news

Chris Morris – 

Derek Hatfield has always known about the loneliness of the long-distance sailor, but he’s never felt as alone as he does these days when racing over the vast, empty expanses of our dying oceans.

Hatfield recently completed his second successful race around the world, sprinting to a third place finish in the grueling VELUX 5 Oceans competition, a solo round-the-world ocean race that is held every four years.

But the last eight months have been an eye-opener for the New Brunswick-born sailor when it comes to the state of the world’s oceans.

Streaking across the open waters in a sleek, 60-foot yacht that affords him a unique, close-up view of marine life, he has been troubled by what he is not seeing.

“You don’t see the fish, you don’t see the turtles, you don’t see the birds,” Hatfield said in an interview from Nova Scotia, where he now lives.

“Along the coast you will see the odd humpback whale but it is getting more and more rare. Last year I did a transatlantic race and I didn’t see one whale in the whole 15 days of racing across the North Atlantic. Not one whale! . . . The oceans are dying and they’re dying very quickly.”

He especially misses the company of dolphins.

Hatfield, who has been making long sea voyages since the early 1990s, says he always used to stop what he was doing when dolphins showed up to race beside the bow of the boat or follow behind.

“It is much lonelier without them,” he says.

“They’re such an intelligent animal and such great company, especially when you’re out there by yourself. Now it’s a rare sight.”

Around the world, even here in New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy, people who live, work and play on the water are reporting significant changes in marine ecosystems.

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