Contestant: Ingeborg Crailsheim, Club Styria
Title: “Richness in Water”
In this case you will not think directly of the gold fever in America. Prospectors retrieved the gold from streams and riverbeds using simple techniques, such as panning.
These days companies also are searching for gold and diamonds in the sea bottom in front of the gold coast in the north west of South Africa near the border of Namibia because the beach is already exhausted of gold and diamonds.
Another kind of richness in the sea is natural gasoline and mineral oil. Therefore we can see about 500 oil platforms all over the world; from fixed ones until floating ones.
Due to the wind in some areas we find a huge amount of wind engines for electric power; so also in Europe for example in front of the east coast of England or in front of the coasts of the Netherlands.
The movement of the water in rivers is used for hydroelectric power stations – we in Austria have a lot of so called clean generations of energy.
In the oceans is the possibility to use the movement of the water at the beginning. The huge volumes of water are moved by wind, ebb and flow. One technique to use this energy is called Wave Dragon and was the world’s first offshore wave energy converter. It is a joint EU research project, including partners from Austria, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Sweden and the UK.
Now I come to that part you are waiting for – I think: the diversity of creatures in water and that means really a richness in water. So we know from very rare species and such which we find in mass. Beside these we know that especially in the depth there are even unknown creatures.
Nearly a unique copy is the coelacanth (Quastenflosser) which was found in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar in 1938. But 1997 in the Indonesian sea a similar one was found. Their blooming period was in Triassic – not changing very much, they are called living fossils.
We have a wonderful richness of animals in water, primarily of fish. Certainly you all know and have perhaps watched the fantastic moving of fish swarms of thousands of fish. This swarming is possible only with one parameter: each fish tries to keep always the same distance to other fish.
Very new is to analyze only the DNA of fish cells in water samples with special measuring equipment to get to know the diversity of a river or lake without time-consuming and extensive fishing.
And then we have the important amounts of krill / plankton. 70 % of the surface of the earth is covered by oceans. However we know relatively less about these small organisms, especially from the deep oceans.
98 % of the biomass in the oceans consists of plankton; the tiny small floating plants (phytoplankton), which need sunlight – that means they are floating maximal 20 m deep under the water surface – and the tiny small floating animals (zooplankton) everywhere in the water. They are the base of all life in the sea because they are the nutrition / food for fish, seals, whales and many other animals.
But a richness of one single population can also become a big problem – as every time where ever we find it, mostly is generated by humans; for instance the insert of otter (without enemies and without control of hunters) is going along the enormous increase of this species in rivers of Lower Austria. Otters are very ravenous gourmets, so they eat only the head of brown trout. Therefore the trout is disappearing there and also the freshwater pearl mussel because they need the gills of trout for their larvae.
Though there is the worst richness in water – particularly in the oceans – that is trash of plastic. 8.3 billions of tons of plastic were produced worldwide, that’s 1000 kg plastic/person; half of it only in the last 13 years. Nowadays we think of prevention of plastic and of more and better recycling. But we need to remove this material out of water too because many animals are dying of plastic.
A creative young man from the Netherlands started his project “The Ocean Clean Up” in a big region western of USA with exceptionally high concentration of plastic – with a big floating filter.
Now you have heard very different kinds of richness in water – positive and negative – and there are much more examples.
You see we humans can influence the nature – positive and negative.
But there is a future with optimism necessary and possible.