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Part one of a two-part series on the human-ocean health connection
I'll just say it. I’m hopelessly in love with the oceans--all of them.
The euphoric and yet exhilarating feeling I get from touching the waves, hearing its crash on the beach and catching a whiff of the soft breeze can only be compared to the experience of diving deep into its vastness. It’s hard to catch one’s breath when there is a magnitude of wonder all around you.
I’m hooked and there is no going back.
So naturally, I am concerned about our oceans’ health. Simply put, we all need the oceans to exist. (For starters, they are the primary reason this planet is inhabitable in the first place.) For the past 50 years we have done an incredibly apt job of taking its bounty and giving back our worst garbage. Now the oceans are at the tipping point of survival.
The impact man-made pollution is having on critical global waterways will ultimately be our demise if we don’t take action to change it. But we are contributing to our collective undoing in another way; we may be unknowingly destroying some of our richest resources to treat and cure human disease such as cancer, AIDS and other chronic illnesses.
“We've only begun to realize the possibilities there are for new drug discoveries in the ocean. It's like the rain forests, where plants and animals that could hold the keys to new drugs are becoming extinct every day. We have the same potential in the oceans, the least-explored and understood environments in the world,” said Dr. Peter McCarthy, senior research scientist at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, Florida.
McCartney and colleague, Dr. Amy Wright, also a senior research scientist at Harbor Branch, discovered unique chemical compounds in sponges found in the Indian Ocean that provide treatment for fungal infections that threaten the lives of AIDS and cancer patients and others with compromised immune systems.
As more people suffer from diseases of the immune system or immune system suppression as a result of undergoing treatment for other diseases, the need for antifungal agents is greater than ever before.