Boris Worm is a marine biologist and an Assistant Professor in Marine Conservation Biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax. His research focuses on the causes and consequences of changes in marine life, and its conservation on a global scale.
The open ocean is by far the largest place on Earth, covering more than 70 per cent of the planet by area and an even larger percentage by volume. Humans now dominate many aspects of ocean life through the combined effects of overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and climate change. Many species, particularly large predators such as some tuna and billfishes, sharks and turtles are being driven to dangerously low levels.
Apart from looming species extinction, there are some wider ecosystem concerns. Large predators can play an important role in maintaining aquatic diversity and ecosystem health, and the elimination of some large predators and herbivores from inshore areas has triggered cascading ecosystem effects. These ecological chain reactions contributed the collapse of some coastal ecosystems. If similar changes occur in the open ocean they are bound to be massive in scale, and probably difficult to reverse.
This is why Boris Worm tries to assess changes in marine biodiversity, to understand the consequences of these changes and how to halt or reverse deleterious trends.