The ocean has a history. Over the past hundreds, thousands, and millions of years the ocean and life within it have evolved and changed. This history determines the ocean’s present state and shapes its path into the future. We cannot understand how the ocean functions today without knowing its ecological history. Likewise, we cannot predict future changes without knowing the origin, cause, and trajectory of change in the past. Finally, we cannot effectively restore degraded marine populations, communities, or ecosystems without historical baselines to use as reference points.
KeywordsFossil Record Sedimentary Record Sperm Whale Minke Whale Humpback Whale
We are grateful to the late Ransom A. Myers and to Boris Worm for helpful discussions and comments. Financial support was provided by the Census of Marine Life’s History (HMAP) and Future (FMAP) of Marine Animal Populations programs funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.