Covering more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface, oceans contain 99 percent of the planet's living space and support nearly 50 percent of all species.
Our lives require healthy oceans for oxygen, food, jobs, medicines and more.
From fishing and tourism to energy development and global shipping, our oceans, including the Atlantic, are very busy places.
Meanwhile, the plants and animals that live in and rely on the Atlantic, like migratory birds and threatened turtles and whales, are increasingly finding themselves in harm’s way.
“It can seem overwhelming,” said Mary Conley, The Nature Conservancy’s southeast marine conservation director. “So, as a first step, we decided that mapping the region would help visualize the variety of resources and uses.”
Similar mapping has been completed for the northern reaches of the Atlantic coast, and Mary is leading the way to create these visualizations of ocean use from North Carolina down to Florida.
The Nature Conservancy and several partners are combining migration paths and shipping routes, wind patterns and wildlife habitat data, and much more, creating a tool that will help us see how the ocean is being used.
Rather than making one-dimensional decisions, these cutting-edge maps of the Atlantic Ocean can help leaders consider relationships between multiple ocean uses.
For example, new shipping routes or sites for wind energy developments can be made while factoring in whale migration routes, critical habitats and fishing areas.
“Ultimately, we want to align our uses of the ocean with the places where those uses are most compatible,” said Mary.
This approach means a great deal for the Atlantic Ocean, helping to ensure that the immense beauty and complex reality of this invaluable resource will endure.
The Atlantic Ocean: Master Multi-Tasker
Careful planning based on science can help avoid conflicts when it comes to managing our oceans.