Oceans of Opportunity

Since 2008, this Blog has been a communications priority providing shorts, op-eds, and bramblings that communicate our evolution to ‘a new life in the sea’.

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Malaysia 370 | an ocean education rollercoaster

'A New Life in the Sea' by Michael LombardiI too have been among the masses tuning in almost nightly to find updates on missing Malaysia flight 370. It’s been an inescapable event, with it taking front and center for more than a month since its disappearance.

While the whole story has proven disturbing from several perspectives – particularly the huge gaps in information gathering, timely investigations, and flat out drop of what were initially perceived at hot sources – the guys with the fake passports, etc – what has emerged, while unfortunate circumstances, has been a rather useful discussion track on the complexity of the search (and recovery) given the location of interest within the ocean.

We’ve had a week or more about ocean currents, AUV technology, acoustics, robotics, and a rather good perspective put forward about the incredible vastness of the space being considered – and that is even after a somewhat refined search area. Its rare for ocean subjects to stick on mainstream
media for so long, and I guess some degree of thanks is in order from the ocean community to the media for shedding light on this part of the story. That is, the reality that not only is the ocean deep, very deep, but it constitutes a space and environment that we hardly have a grip on how to intervene effectively. That should speak volumes about the necessity of the ocean science and technology communities now and for the future.

If the specific wreckage site is discovered, intervening for any type of recovery effort is as difficult, if not more difficult, than a mission in space. The shameful reality is that with this type of imminent need (just one justification), the level of investment into space exploration and related technologies is an order of magnitude greater, or more, than the investment into ocean exploration and related technologies. To me, something is wrong with that picture. After all, we’re talking about not understanding our own backyard. For consideration, imagine having never set foot in your own backyard in suburban America and take in that experience, but spending your life savings for a one-week vacation across country. Doesn’t make much sense, but that’s what we’ve ben doing for decades.

Nevertheless, the flight 370 event is indeed shedding light on the mysteries and challenges that our ocean brings us. Perhaps this will prove to be a catalyst of sorts to help bring us one step closer to improving intervention, and further our understanding of the depths of this watery planet we call home.

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