The Other World beneath the Waves

We have often believed that life only existed here on earth. However scientific advances raise the possibility of someday living outside our planet. Meanwhile, there is an unexplored cosmos right here beside us. We have only just begun to examine the depths of the oceans which are all around us. We cannot comprehend the variety of life under the surface of the seas and oceans which cover 71% of the Earth’s surface. In this post, we will try to give a brief introduction to our oceans and seas and their effect on culture and arts, as well as some of the documentary films that reveal the life of this other world.

The oceans hold 97% of earth’s water and contain more than 230,000 different living species. However experts believe that just 5% of ocean life has so far been classified. The Pacific Ocean is the largest body of water, covering half of the surface of the hydrosphere and more than a third of the planet’s total surface. It has the deepest marine spot in the world in an area called the Marianas Trench, east of the Philippines, and which has barely been explored due to its extreme depth. Although people traveled to the moon in 1969, a major oceanic mountain range; the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, was only mapped in detail in 1973.

In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly declared that June 8 would be marked as World Oceans Day to celebrate the world’s oceans and their connections with humanity, in addition to raising awareness about the vital role they play in our lives and how people can protect them. The oceans are a major part of the environment, which is celebrated on June 5 of every year to promote its preservation. However, the challenge for the environment is clear. When Victor Vescovo, a former officer in the US Navy, dived deep into the Marianas Trench last year, he found man-made objects lying on the seabed. It was probably plastic waste. The UN has estimated that there are 100 million tonnes of plastic rubbish in the oceans.

It’s not only scientists who tried to search for the secrets of marine life. Artists have also sought to learn the secrets of the oceans in an effort to embed them into their works. Among the most prominent of these are the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai who is known for his wonderful piece “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” and the Russian artist Ivan Aivazovsky who is known for his world-famous “The Ninth Wave.” Last year, some lost paintings by Aivazovsky were discovered in a shipwreck in the Black Sea. With regards to music, we cannot overlook Claude Debussy’s major orchestral work, La Mer, which was written in 1903-1905. Regarding verse, poets have sailed the seas and written extensively on the beauty and majesty of the waves, the dangers of the oceans and the sense of separation from their families while at sea.

As we, here in the Eastern Province consider the Arabian Gulf, we cannot help but notice how the waters have affected our lives as a source of livelihood through pearl fishing which prospered at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. That, in addition to fishing, have given rise to many forms of lyric poetry, namely “Al-Nihma” and “Al-Fajri” which were used to relieve the hardship of fishing journeys for sailors and divers.

Not only did the sea affect the Eastern Province, but also the rest of the Gulf nations that share this maritime heritage. We see that many women in the region were named after different variations of the word Pearl such as Dana, Lulwa, Marda and Sharina, as well as Mouza which is one of the finest types of pearls. We recall the visit the jeweler Jacques Cartier paid to the Gulf in 1912 to obtain Gulf pearls that fascinated him with their charm, purity and clarity. It was then that the Cartier jewelry design house began with a series creations that featured Gulf pearls. The story of pearls did not stop there. It was highlighted when UNESCO’s International World Heritage list included the Bahrain Pearling Trail in 2012.

The oceans have also featured on TV. National Geographic Abu Dhabi’s Drain the Oceans, highlighted the most spectacular forms of marine life and their habitats.