A Balanced System of Ocean Life

A Balanced System of Ocean Life includes sea otters
Sea Otter

Kelp safeguards the ocean’s ecology by providing a home for many sea creatures, preventing coastal erosion, and sequestering vast amounts of carbon dioxide. The last century has seen a massive decrease in kelp growing along the California coast because of an increase in sea urchins that eat kelp. Sea otters feed on sea urchins, and as people killed sea otters for their fur, the urchin population increased, reducing the underwater kelp forests. It is easy to see that God has given us a balanced system of ocean life, but humans sometimes upset the balance.

Sea otters have a fast metabolism, requiring them to eat a fourth of their body weight daily, and sea urchins are their favorite food. Because of the fur trade, sea otters disappeared from Northern and Southern California, with a small population remaining in the central part of the state. In 1913, California made sea otters protected mammals, but 1977’s Endangered Species Act gave them more protection. Since then, central California has seen a 58% increase in kelp while kelp in the northern and southern coasts has declined. Research has shown that sea otters are the reason for the ecological improvement in Central California.

Any time humans disturb the balanced system of ocean life or any ecosystem, negative consequences result. The biological design of our planet does not just consist of separate independent organisms, but all of life on Earth is interconnected. An analogy might be the workings of an airplane. Multiple systems operate within an aircraft, including the landing gear, engines, electrical system, hydraulics, wings, rudder, etc. For it to fly, all of those systems must work together. Engineers must design a plan that integrates those systems. The aircraft doesn’t happen by accident but by the design of intelligent engineers. 

All of life on Earth is interrelated and not a product of chance. There is design in all of life and in the planet itself that allows us to exist. In Proverbs 8, “Wisdom” encourages us to see God’s wise design on this planet. In verses 22-31, we see specific wisdom shown in various applications involved in preparing planet Earth for life. Verses 35-36, we see the alternative to understanding God’s use of wisdom in creating the world in which we live. Verse 35 tells us that those who find wisdom find life, and those who do not find wisdom harm themselves and prefer death. We all see all around us the interaction of living things and what happens when humans destroy one of them. 

Let us learn from the balanced system of ocean life that includes kelp, sea otters, and urchins. Caring for all life is a challenge God has given us in Genesis 2:15. The need to do this is more clear today than ever before. 

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: Smithsonian magazine and The Week of April 26, 2024, page 21.