Biodiversity and its importance to our lives

To celebrate biodiversity, members of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) are taking selfies with the animals under their care. To raise awareness the S.E.A. Aquarium and Dolphin Island teams have joined in the fun.

The diversity of life is one of the most remarkable aspects of our planet. Knowing how many species inhabit Earth is among the most important questions in science.

Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, describes the variety of life on Earth. It is the variation between all species of plants, animals and micro-organisms, and the environments within which they live.

A S.E.A. Aquarium Aquarist takes a selfie with a Leafy Seadragon. Leafy Seadragons are under threat from habitat loss and degradation as well as to incidental collection during commercial fishing.

How diverse are the oceans?

Looking at a world map highlights the fact that we truly live on a water planet, with oceans covering more than 70% of its surface! Researchers have predicted that there are approximately 8.7 million currently known species globally, with 2.2 million species found in the oceans alone.

To date we have only just started to understand the complex relationships between the huge variety of environments and all living things.

S.E.A. Aquarium diver takes a selfie with an Ornate Wobbegong Shark.

Why is biodiversity important?

An ecosystem includes all organisms interacting with each other, and also with their physical environment. Each organism has its’ own role to play. Biodiversity of an ecosystem can be affected by changes in any of these elements.

The services that ecosystems and their inhabiting species provide to humans are not always obvious at first glance; however there is a strong link between the health of ecosystems and our well-being.

Dolphin Island trainer taking a selfie with an Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin.

How does biodiversity affect us?

Biodiversity can be seen as a natural knowledge bank from which the learning potential is limitless. Within a single species lies a multitude of information, all of which could eventually become priceless to humanity. While species continue to disappear at alarming rate (at least a thousand time the natural extinction rate), so is the potential to find new remedies for current and upcoming threats.

A new field rapidly emerging is biomimetics, where particular qualities found in species are used to develop technologies that serve our everyday needs.

Some specific examples include

  • X-ray devices inspired by lobster eyes that can see through 3-inch-thich steel walls
  • A car shape inspired from a species of fish for its hydrodynamic properties
  • Super resistant light materials inspired from the structure of shrimp cells used in airplane components
  • Unbreakable windshields derived from oyster shells
  • Camouflage technologies inspired from species of octopus and many more.

A S.E.A. Aquarium Aquarist takes a selfie with Javanese Cownose Rays. Javanese Cownose Rays, are subjected to unregulated inshore fisheries across most of their range.

What are the threats to biodiversity?

Changes in the natural environment are typical and have made the world what it is today. However, pressures put on natural ecosystems are pushing them beyond their capacity to recover. By the end of this century, unless there is substantial change, there will be a significant disappearance of many life forms still present today.

Human activities can cause non-natural environmental changes, which increases the rate of change and can have major impacts on biodiversity. By simply living a more sustainable lifestyle we can allow ecosystems to remain diverse and productive for generations to enjoy.

Collectively, small changes can make enormous differences. Remember to reduce, reuse and recycle when possible, select seafood carefully and simply respect the natural environment that surrounds you.

“Biodiversity is US” by World Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Each year more than 700 million people visit zoos and aquariums worldwide. As centres of education and conservation, zoos and aquariums play a role in inspiring people to protect biodiversity on Earth.

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), of which the S.E.A. Aquarium is a member, has recently launched the “Biodiversity is Us” project. The project provides tools for raising awareness about the importance of maintaining biodiversity and how reduce biodiversity will impacts the services provided to human well-being.

Concurrently at S.E.A. Aquarium, we continue to celebrate ourBlue Planet programme throughout June and July. As modern societies become increasingly urban, zoos and aquariums allow people to get up-close to a range of species and habitats they may not have the chance to encounter. Connecting people provides us with a huge potential to educate on the biodiversity found in the oceans, and raise awareness for its preservation.

 

For more information on WAZA’s Biodiversity is US Facebook page.

Take selfies with the marine animals at S.E.A. Aquarium or Dolphin Island, and share with us by tagging @rwsentosa and #SEAAquarium or #dolphinisland.

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