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Podcast: What can seashells tell us about the health of the oceans?

  • On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast we discuss what seashells can tell us about the state of the world’s oceans, and we hear about the challenges facing the Philippines’ marine protected area system.
  • Environmental journalist Cynthia Barnett joins us to discuss her newly released book, The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans. She tells us about the many ways humans have prized seashells for years, using them as money, jewelry, and art, and how seashells can help us examine the challenges marine environments are facing today.
  • We’re also joined by Mongabay staff writer Leilani Chavez, who tells us about the incredible marine biodiversity found in Philippines waters and why there’s a movement amongst scientists and conservationists to expand marine conservation efforts beyond the Philippines’ extensive coral reef systems.

We’ve got two stories of marine conservation for you today: one that looks at seashells and what they can tell us about the health of the oceans, and another about the extensive marine protected area system in the Philippines, one of the world’s marine biodiversity hotspots.

Listen here:

Our first guest is Cynthia Barnett, journalist and author of the new book The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans. Barnett tells us about why she chose to look at marine issues through the lens of seashells, the long history of human interest in seashells, and what they can tell us about how climate change and over-exploitation are impacting marine environments — as well as why writing Sound of the Sea convinced her that we can’t solve ocean conservation issues without also addressing issues of human inequality and injustice.

We also speak with Mongabay’s own Leilani Chavez, a staff writer based in the Philippines’ capital city, Manila. Chavez tells us about why Philippines waters are considered some of the most biodiverse on Earth, the main threats to that marine diversity, and the challenges facing the country’s marine protected areas, many of which are run by local communities.

Read more about the Philippines’ MPAs:

With growing pressures, can the Philippines sustain its marine reserves?” (30 June 2021)

Various examples of the shells of Caenogastropoda, a subclass of molluscs. Photo via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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Giant clams are heavily poached in the Philippines, where they are a casualty of illegal fishing activities, particularly cyanide and dynamite fishing. Image by The TerraMar Project via Flickr.

Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001

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