Deepen your understanding of The Deep Ocean with these carefully crafted educational exercises that let you get the most out of this TED Studies subject.

Activity 1

Imagine that on behalf of a government agency (e.g., U.S. congressional subcommittee), you are organizing an important hearing concerning the deep ocean. You've invited all seven of the TED speakers featured in The Deep Ocean, among others, and have asked them to address the following questions:

  • Why should we care about the deep ocean?
  • What should "care" entail? This may include the establishment of marine protected areas, incentives to pursue deep-sea marine biotechnology or mining, increased funding and authority for regulatory agencies or researchers, ratification of international agreements, or other measures.

How would each of the TED speakers answer these questions? Based on how their responses might be similar or different from one another's, how would you order the speakers on the hearing agenda, and why?

Activity 2

Locating and documenting hydrothermal vent ecosystems is very difficult and expensive. Using what you've learned from the explorers and scientists featured in The Deep Sea, outline a two month expedition to locate new hydrothermal vent ecosystems on one of the following ridge areas: the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge; the southern part of the South West Indian Ridge; or the southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Think about the equipment you would need. How would you locate the vents and how would you then document and sample them? You have a large research ship available for 55 days. If possible, compare your plans with those of your classmates and offer constructive feedback.

Activity 3

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea specifies that the high seas and the resources they contain are "the common heritage of humankind". The UN International Seabed Authority is charged with managing mining on the seabed of the high seas. How is the commercial interest of nations balanced with the notion that the high seas "belong" to everybody? With colleagues or classmates, explore the following perspectives on seabed mining:

  • A state proposing to mine a hydrothermal vent on a ridge in the high seas
  • A representative to the ISA from a state with a low per-capita income, a growing population and no means to participate in deep-sea mining
  • A non-governmental organization interested in the conservation of hydrothermal vent ecosystems
  • An official from the ISA presiding over discussions related to the proposal

Debate the proposed mining of the vent site considering the value of the mineral resources, equitable sharing of profits, the conservation implications of the mining operation, and the ethical considerations of the proposal. Does it make a difference where the proposal is sited in terms of vent biogeography, levels of exploration and the spreading rate of the ridge?

Activity 4

Imagine you've been given the job of managing your nearest piece of ocean, from Territorial Waters (12 nautical miles off the coast) to the 4000m depth isobath. Develop a plan for ecosystem-based management of your part of the ocean, drawing upon the TEDTalks and recommended resources included in The Deep Ocean. Additionally, you may want to consult SimonThrush and Paul Dayton's 2010 article "What can ecology contribute to ecosystem-based management?" In your plan, consider:

  • The characteristics of your ocean region, both the physical environment and the biological communities, including rare or threatened species.
  • How it varies annually, interannually and how it may change over the next 50 years given climate change and other considerations (e.g., increasing coastal human population).
  • The users of the environment (e.g., fisheries, oil and gas industry, shipping, recreation) both now and over the next 50 years.
  • What technologies you can use to monitor the physical environment, marine organisms, and human activities.
  • What management principles you might like to implement (e.g., a network of marine protected areas, fisheries regulations, regulations for other users).

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