Our family loves the ocean - we regularly visit our local beaches, swim, body-board or canoe in the chilly but clean water, and we always take our vacations somewhere where the sea is close by.
Rebekah (r) and cousin Sophie (l) at Aberavon beach, summer 08 (all pictures by Steve)
When I was little we used to live near Maroubra Beach in Australia, and I was rescued by a lifeguard after drifting out to sea beyond the surfline. I don't know how it happened - one moment I'm walking along the shore looking at the sand swirling around my toes, the next thing I know is that I'm waking up in a beautiful, blue world, looking up at the sunlight filtering through the clear water. Someone said afterwards that I got knocked over by a big wave and got sucked out to sea on the backwash. I wasn't scared, I was at peace - the worst part was having to face my panicked grandparents and the crowds waiting on the beach after that anonymous life-saver brought me ashore. It didn't put me off the sea, but without the vigilance of a Maroubra Beach lifeguard I wouldn't be here today.
We came back to live in Wales and I studied for my marine degree at Cardiff University, this led to my joining a major oceanographic research laboratory in 1990. Any views expressed on this site should be assumed to be my own.
I'm a Chartered Marine Scientist, a Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology, and a Fellow of the Society for Underwater Technology. In my career I've visited the Southern Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean on board the research ship Discovery, managed a science missions programme using the Autosub robot submarine, and written a book called 'Exploring the Ocean'. I've been lucky, and have seen beautiful places, fantastic animals and met wonderful people. The oceans are vast, beautiful and still largely unexplored.
Since 2013 I've headed the UK delegation to UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, and have taken on new responsibilities for tsunami warning, capacity-building and marine policy. Working in marine science has given me a fascinating career On the next couple of pages I hope you can enjoy learning a little bit about them, and enjoy some images gathered in my travels.
Royal Research Ship Discovery - my home from home on voyages in the 90's
A few facts
The oceans cover over 70% of the surface of our planet, and average about 3300 metres depth. They absorb heat in the tropics and transport it to higher latitudes, helping to keep Britain, for instance, many degrees warmer than it should be considering how far north it is. The oceans are the source of life on our planet, and home to most of the plants and animals that live here. The tiny plankton supply us with the air that we breathe, and form the base of the food chain. They even emit chemicals that aid cloud formation. The water lubricates the plate tectonics that keeps our planet habitable over billions of years. In the deep hydrothermal vents creatures exist that don't even need sunlight - they use chemosynthesis rather than photosynthesis to generate energy - it's like something out of a science fiction movie.
The oceans provide us with food, energy and a simple means of carrying heavy goods over long distances. Yet we have given them little in return - we catch too many fish, pollute the water and use them to hide our weapons of mass destruction. We have abused our oceans for far too long, but at last humans are taking an interest and some of the damage is being undone.
Fin whale, Indian Ocean - one of a pair that came to watch us as we worked from Discovery
As nations expand seawards, in search of new resources of energy, food and minerals, the 200 or even 350 mile marine border is becoming commonplace. Having oversight of such huge marine estates, often larger than the parent Nation, is forcing governments to have to look much more closely at how best to manage the conflicting uses that take place within the same parcel of water and seabed. In the UK the Marine & Coastal Access Act and Marine Act (Scotland) are transforming how we manage our marine space. At European level the Marine Strategy Framework Directive is driving progress towards 'good environmental status' across EU waters by 2020. It is quite likely that within a few years a much more holistic system will be in place to manage marine resources, and that active steps will be in place to restore damaged ecosystems and fish stocks.
Click HERE to move to page 2 Last updated 18th September 2014