If you haven’t been paying attention, listen up: the ocean is effed. The International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) brought together a team of scientists from different disciplines to discuss the “multiple stresses” affecting marine life. Normally, scientists only look at the problems in their field of expertise; when examining all the problems facing the ocean in conjunction, the findings are “shocking.” The conclusion: we are way worse off than we thought. We are having all the problems we knew about—habitat loss, overfishing, climate change, acidification—but the rate of destruction is hella more accelerated than previously projected. A mass marine extinction is a real possibility.
Shit is scary! But, hey guys, don’t go hide under your bed just yet! There are ways to help! From CNN: “Dan Laffoley, senior advisor on Marine Science and Conservation for IUCN, and co-author of the report, said: ‘The challenges for the future of the ocean are vast, but unlike previous generations we know what now needs to happen. The time to protect the blue heart of our planet is now, today and urgent.’” That’s a rally call if I ever heard one!
As the video says, one of the main issues is overfishing. From IPSO: “Scientists at the IPSO meeting agreed that overfishing is exerting an intolerable pressure on ecosystems already under attack by the effects of acidification and warming, and other largely man-made ocean problems. A recent study showed that 63% of the assessed fish stocks worldwide are exploited or depleted and over half of them require further reduction of fishing, in order to recover.” Luckily, overfishing is one problem we can directly help alleviate—stop eating fish! It’s pretty simple: When trying to preserve a species, one thing you can do is not kill them. Science!
Japan has a complex relationship with marine wildlife. While their most notable foray into marine “science,” the government-supported Institute of Cetacean Research, kills whales and then sells their meat(!), this little combo of seals plus science is super-adorable: a therapeutic robot in the form of a white, fuzzy baby seal designed to comfort the elderly. Don’t diss—if you were whacked out on painkillers and consumed by fear of death, you’d totally be distracted by a little robo seal, too.
This seal is catching on in facilities around the world, which is good news! Because 1) it reminds the entire world that Japan is a very funny country! And 2) it takes the place of real live comfort animals! While imagining kittens and puppies helping your grandma to relearn juggling after her massive stroke is cute and all, let’s face it: institutions like hospitals might not make the best homes for real animals. Besides medical leeches and maggots–-living in a hospital and eating humans must be heaven for those mofos!
If you want more Japanoroboseal, check out this commercial, which plays on the popularity of robotic seals among old folks. Apparently, robots + seals + grandmas is like a recognizable cultural touchstone nowadays.
And FINALLY, if you are STILL jonesing for more of that special blend of Japanese + marine life + cute, well then, you very well might be one of those creepy white dudes with an Asian fetish. If so, get off the internet and go get help! We do not want you here! If not, go check out the movie Ponyo, by director Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, who brought you Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle. Ponyo follows the platonic (sort of?) love story between a Japanese boy and a sassy, adorable fish creature named Ponyo who washes up on shore one day. Ponyo digs this kid so much, she transforms into a girl his age so that she can chillax with him all human-like. If it sounds like the plot of The Little Mermaid, well, it kinda is, but shut up! This has awesome old-school animation, the most adorable fish creature you’ve ever seen, and cool stuff like ancient dinosaur fish!