How much do we really know about the world's oceans?
Answered by Bruce Robison
  • Bruce Robison

    Bruce Robison

  1. Bruce Robison Senior Scientist, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)


    Throughout the deep-sea research community, we are still groping to gain some basic understanding of how things are put together and how they work. There are bright spots where we have learned a great deal about particular aspects or particular elements of the global deep-sea community. Hydrothermal events, for example, are a really interesting place where we've learned a great deal about a fascinating portion of that world, and there are geographical regions like Monterey Bay where we have studied it extensively, not just MBARI, but the other institutions that are around the bay.

    On the other hand, we can say that Monterey Bay is perhaps the best-studied patch of the deep ocean in the world, and yet we're still finding new things, after almost 25 years, every time we go out -- new animals, new relationships between different species, new patterns of energy transfer through the system. If we're still learning new things about the best-studied patch of the deep sea after 25 years, what about the rest of the world ocean that we've barely scratched the surface of?

    So we know a lot. We've learned a lot, particularly through the application of the technologies that MBARI has developed, but then you step back and say, "Wow, we're the only guys that have these tools," and the rest of the world is still trying to figure out what's going on in their back yards, much less the world ocean as a whole. So we've learned a lot, and our understanding, we hope, can be extrapolated to some degree out to the broader-world ocean. But on a global scale, we don't know diddly.

    More answers from Bruce Robison »

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