Biodiversity expresses the diversity of life at every level of the biological organization. The terms biodiversity is commonly used to indicate species richness, which is the number of species living in a certain area. However, biodiversity has a broader meaning that spans from genetic diversity to habitat and ecosystem diversity.

How many species there are in the sea?

More than 230’000 marine species have been given a name so far. But the scientific community believes that more than 2 million species live in our seas. Consider that more than eighty per cent of our ocean is unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored. Humans are obsessed with exploring space, but we don’t even know what is in our backyard.

Most life on earth and in the sea is made by tiny organisms, invisible or difficult to see with naked eyes. Tiny doesn’t mean of lesser importance, and in fact, small and microscopic organisms are responsible for most of the functions of ecosystems.

Why is biodiversity important?

Biodiversity is fundamental for the functioning of ecosystems. Research has shown that ecosystems with higher biodiversity are more productive, better withstand changes, and have greater recovery ability following perturbations.

Biodiversity is invaluable to humans for the provision of fundamental goods and services such as food, coastal protection, water purification, carbon sequestration, tourism, recreation, and many others.

Which is the economic value of Biodiversity?

Recent estimates for the global ecosystem services ranged between 125 and 145 trillion $US a year. Marine ecosystems alone account for up to 60 trillion $US a year. However, being the result of 3.5 billion years of evolution, biodiversity is invaluable because it cannot be bought back in a human time scale once lost.

Why do marine biodiversity and ecosystems need protection?

Biodiversity needs to be protected because our unsustainable growth is threatening the health of the world's oceans. Global change, overfishing, pollution due to industries and agriculture, marine litter are only a few threats to marine ecosystems.

We are at a key juncture in history where biodiversity loss is occurring daily and accelerating in the face of our unsustainable development.

What can I do to protect marine biodiversity?

The biggest thing everyone can do to protect our planet and our seas is to choose consciously, especially when buying. From how we decide to move, what we buy for lunch, where we plan our holiday, what we wear, every choice we make during our daily life can make the difference.

For example, choosing the type of fish we buy can make a huge difference for marine ecosystems. Avoid buying fish caught by bottom trawling and other destructive fish methods. Focus on sustainable species such as bluefish (small tunas, mackerels, anchovies etc.) or mussels.

The opportunity to continue to benefit from marine goods and services depends on the extent to which we are willing to change our habits.