Shifting Baselines

Things aren’t always as they seem. If small changes are happening to the ocean over time, it can be hard for us to notice them—before we know it, they become the new normal. It’s important we know the original baseline, rather one that has changed over time.

LATEST POSTS

Expedition to the Line Islands

The Line Islands are one of the most remote places in the Pacific Ocean. Credit: Smithsonian Institution Remotely located in the central Pacific Ocean, south of Hawaii, the Line Islands provide a remarkable research...

Visit the Line Islands with Reef Ecologist Dr. Stuart Sandin

A number of questions have inspired marine ecologist Stuart Sandin to head to the coral reefs of the Line Islands . Sandin works at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California,...

Really Small Fry: Shifting Baselines in Marine Fish Stocks

A public service announcement uses a dramatic example to emphasize that ocean fish aren’t as big as they used to be. Find out more about the decline in the ocean's top -- and often...

Dr. Jan Backman, Marine Geologist

Drilling near the North Pole, Dr. Jan Backman reveals a brief moment in time when the Arctic was subtropical. More about world climate change can be found in our Climate Change featured story .

Changing Tides - Brave New Ocean

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill , ocean acidification, and the decline of fish stocks are just three of the topics that renowned ocean scientist, Dr. Jeremy Jackson discusses in this talk, recorded on World...

The Last Wild Places In the Ocean Webcast

The ocean is not as natural as it once was. Where there used to be large predators that we took for sea monsters, now there are tiny fish and jellyfish. But there are a...

The Big Five of the Ocean: Exploring the Waters of East Africa

A whale shark swims with a diver off the coast of East Africa. Credit: Caine Delacy When we think "Africa," we think of the "Big Five"—lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and rhinos—that crisscross the African...

The Census of Marine Life

Did you know that over 17,000 species thrive in the deep sea where no light penetrates the ocean waves? Or that an old restaurant menu can teach us about the history of fish populations?...

4,000 Years of Marine History through the Eyes of a Seabird

A Hawaiian petrel flies over part of its North Pacific feeding grounds. Credit: Photo courtesy of Jim Denny Most people have never heard of the Hawaiian petrel , an endangered, crow-sized seabird that spends...

Exploring a Unique Biodiversity Hotspot In the Gulf of Maine

Cashes Ledge is a wild, special place in the heart of the Gulf of Maine. This underwater mountain range is home to a great diversity of life, with colors typically associated with a coral...

A Pleasant Surprise: The Recovery of Bleached Panamanian Corals

These corals are still in recovery after a mass bleaching in Panama, in the summer of 2010. You can see some bleaching on the tops, but the sides are looking good. Credit: Amanda Feuerstein...

Coral Reefs Changing Over Time

How do we know what coral reefs looked like hundreds of years ago? Often times, we are simply left wondering. Scientists can get an idea from naturalist recordings, but there are many unknowns and...