To start I just want to say that I am a fan of space exploration and do think that it is important to explore the universe, etc. I just think that we are missing a huge opportunity when we neglect our planet. I am super biased towards Ocean exploration because I have spend a lot of time underwater and the underwater world fascinates me and has since I was a young person.
I have written quite a bit about being underwater, the dangers of being underwater and also about killer whales. I haven’t written much about the need for underwater exploration. Exploration is something I have always felt is important to us better understanding our planet. I figured other people understood this but then I look at the big deal that is being made about all of the recent exciting underwater events and realized that I was wrong. People have no idea how important the oceans are or how under explored they are.
The above comic is an interesting look at the depths of the ocean. Take a look at it, marvel in the fact that, as the author says: “Man, we know nothing about the ocean.”
So, why is ocean exploration cooler then space exploration? The biggest reason is that when we explore space, no matter what the “scientific” reason is, we are looking for life. Guess what, the ocean is full of life. So much life that we don’t even have names for all of it. And its not just a million different species of plankton, there are animals that we know exist (I am looking at you giant squid!!) that we know next to nothing about. Apparently they fight sperm whales and are really big.
Sure we have places like sea world that you can go to and see fascinating sea creatures up close. But does that really further peoples knowledge of oceans or does it just further their knowledge of that creature? People in general have a hard time believing that Orcas and other members of the dolphin family are smart enough to be considered people and people that believe this tend to viewed as crazy.
Yet it is common for people to state that they believe that we are not alone in the universe. That somewhere intelligent life exists. People say this and people may roll their eyes but thanks to hollywood and NASA’s constant search for life on other planets we all secretly want that to be true.
If you encounter someone who says that whales or dolphins are intelligent enough to equal humans, typically they become branded as a tree hugging environmentalist. No one seems to be interested in discovering intelligent life on this planet. It is only cool if it is on other planets.
I think that human beings need discovery. We are curious in nature and love to learn new things. The problem is we have been looking skyward too long. People talk of colonizing the moon. Which would be awesome. But with our current population exploding why don’t we populate the ocean floor first. I am pretty sure we would learn some lessons living under pressure that would translate into living in low gravity.
There are talks of a possible manned mission to mars. Really? Three people have been to the deepest part of the ocean. Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh in 1960 and James Cameron in 2012. 52 years since anyone has been down there. On the Space side 12 people have been to the moon.
I don’t think we should stop exploring space, I just think that we should put more money into exploring the oceans. Money spent on ocean exploration and understanding can only help mankind now whereas money spent exploring space will possibly help mankind in hundreds of years.