Using sets of special underwater remote-controlled cameras, a team from the international environmental group Greenpeace has made a first-time discovery of a diverse range of sea life under the Arctic ice near Norway, up to 600 meters beneath the ocean surface.
At first expecting to find images of only mud and sand in the severely cold environment, underwater photographer Gavin Newman instead saw rare footage of soft corals, sea anemones, and other kinds of life never before witnessed or studied by scientists.
Mr. Newman said, "It is one of the most colorful places I've dived apart from tropical coral reefs. It really was very unexpected." Sadly however, as the Arctic ice has been receding drastically due to global warming, fishing trawlers have been moving farther north into this pristine area, dragging heavy nets across the sea bottom that destroy the fragile coral habitats and leave only devastation in their wake.
These destructive trawl marks were also documented in Mr. Newman’s images. Greenpeace representatives expressed concern that this precious Arctic ecosystem is thus being threatened not only by the global warming effects of rising temperatures and ocean acidification but also by bottom trawling.
They have called for a moratorium on this practice in the Arctic Ocean, with experts such as marine biologist Dr. Iris Menn highlighting what is known as the precautionary principle, a policy that governs all exploration and states that humans must not seek benefit from environments without sufficient information about their impact.
She stated, "For fisheries this means … that there should not be any fishing in areas where we don't have any knowledge of the ocean ecosystem." Greenpeace Nordic Oceans campaigner Frida Bengtsson also noted the 2009 leadership of the United States in a decision to ban all fishing north of the Alaskan Bering Strait and urged Norway, in whose waters these new discoveries were being made, to adopt a similar urgent measure.
Our sincere appreciation Mr. Newman, Greenpeace and all concerned advocates for these new glimpses into the beauty of the Arctic while raising awareness about its delicate ecosystems.
Let us act swiftly to stop the harm to marine life for the ultimate benefit of all beings. Supreme Master Ching Hai has frequently spoken of the need to protect our living oceans, as in an interview published in the September 2009 edition of the British Parliament's The House Magazine.