Back in 2017, Blue Planet II broke viewing records – and almost broke the internet when half of China tried to download it. A global audience exceeding one hundred million sat spellbound while walruses were waylaid by ravenous polar bears. We were transfixed by the colour-changing cuttlefish hypnotising a crab. We held our breath as penguins tiptoed around recumbent elephant seals. We marvelled at the sartorial superpowers of the shell-suited octopus.
As we watched, enthralled, myriad questions swam into our heads. How can a mantis shrimp pack such a powerful punch? How many clownfish does it take to move a coconut? Was the nightmare-inducing Bobbit worm really named in honour of that gruesome amputation incident? Does the fearsome fangtooth have dental insurance? And – most burning question of all – what in Neptune’s name are we doing to our oceans?
The answer provided by Sir David Attenborough, long-standing vice-president of Fauna & Flora International (FFI), was unequivocal. We’re treating them as a dumping ground, subjecting them to intolerable changes in temperature, hoovering up their bountiful resources as though they were inexhaustible, riding roughshod over delicate coral reefs and other fragile habitats, and pushing countless marine species to the brink of extinction.
FFI has had this global emergency on its radar for some time, and we have been addressing these challenges head on since we officially launched our marine programme a decade ago. The vital work being done by FFI and our partners around the world includes tackling issues such as marine plastic pollution, habitat loss and degradation, destructive fishing, illegal trade in marine species and other human activities that pose a growing threat to the future of our blue planet.