Helen scales on ocean life

Posted: 11/28/2011 in all marine news

The Browser – 

We plunder the ocean for food, dump our waste in it, respect its wildlife less than land-based creatures. Why ? Is it a case of “out of sight, out of mind” ?

A marine biologist tells us what’s down there and what we’re doing to it.

You have spent most of your life exploring the ocean – why are you so fascinated by it ?

Anyone who has put their head under water, whether snorkelling or swimming or scuba diving, will have hopefully caught a glimpse of an extraordinary world that for most of the time is out of sight and out of mind.

As soon as I first got down among all the creatures and fish and extraordinary things you can see down there, I was instantly addicted to it.

Can you describe one really memorable experience that you’ve had beneath the waves ?

I think it has to be the first time I saw a seahorse in the wild.

These were a group of animals I’d been obsessed with for ages.

But for more than 10 years of diving and researching in the sea, I never saw one. While I was in Vietnam, researching the impact on seahorses of shrimp trawlers for my book, I spent a day diving at a spot where I’d been told seahorses still hung out.

And there it was. A perfect little orange seahorse, snoozing quietly on the seabed.

Funny thing was, I’d been wrong every time I’d imagined what it would be like to see my favourite animal in real life. I didn’t scream and dance about in delight – I just lay down on the sand next to it and watched, utterly gripped and completely content.

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