Ocean Sciences at Springer

  • Supporting World Oceans Day on June 8th and SDG 14 'Life Below Water'
  • Helping develop solutions to pressing global problems
  • Enjoy reading a selection of our ocean science publications

Springer's Ocean Sciences Collection

The theme of this year’s UN World Oceans Day is 'Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean'. The oceans provide much of our food and regulate our climate by absorbing heat and carbon dioxide. However, oceans are under serious threat.SNG SDG logo © Springer

Springer is very proud to join this effort and is committing to open research. We support academics, professionals and practitioners around the world, offering cutting-edge research in a vibrant ocean sciences research collection. With currently over 2,000 scientific books and 90 journals, we support knowledge expansion and sustainable solutions.

To celebrate World Oceans Day 2020 on June 8th, we have invited key opinion leaders to share some thoughts. We have also selected relevant articles and chapters which have all been made freely available online.

Would you like to publish your research with us and contribute to our Ocean Science research collection? Contact one our publishing editors.

Insights from Key Opinion Leaders

© Springer


International Collaboration and Evidence-Based Policy are Critical for our Future Oceans 

by Professor Jan. M. Strugnell, Editor-in-Chief of Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

"World Oceans Day is a moment to celebrate, and reflect upon, the critical role oceans play in our lives. This is reflected not only in the enormity of our oceans, comprising over 70% of our planet’s surface, but also in the important role it plays in regulating our atmosphere and climate...

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Jan Strugnell © Springer... This is evidenced by the fact that 70% of our oxygen comes from the ocean and more than 93% of the additional heat from greenhouse gas emissions (produced since the 1970s) were absorbed by the ocean. Given its great size and importance, one could argue that our world might be more accurately named Planet Ocean.

Our oceans also support a diverse range of ecosystems, such as estuaries, kelp forests, coral reefs, rocky shores and polar environments, each of which contain a fascinating array of marine life.  These can be wonderful places for recreation, tourism and cultural activities, but are also crucially important in supporting fisheries which provide an essential source of nutrients, micronutrients, and income to many.

Despite their great importance, there is cause for concern for the future of many of our marine ecosystems and the fisheries that depend on them.  Climate change, fishing pressure, and their combined effects, are impacting fisheries catches, yet there is a lack of climate-related literature available for many important fisheries species, fisheries bycatch remains one of the biggest threats to marine mammal populations and political disputes are inhibiting crucial multilateral fisheries management.

Given the rapid pace of change in our oceans, coupled together with the fact that there is so much critical information that we do not yet know about our ocean ecosystems, the marine life they contain, the fisheries and in turn the livelihoods they support, is there any case for optimism?  I think there is. Genuine international collaboration and science-based solutions offer great promise. The importance of a solid evidence base, coupled with global action, has never been more clear than it is currently as viewed through the lens of the devastating global pandemic we are now experiencing.  The rapidity with which our actions have changed locally, regionally and globally over the past few months is also a clear example of humanity’s ability to bring about significant change when we deem it to be necessary.

The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, commencing in 2021, provides an exciting opportunity to bring about significant change for our degraded oceans on which we depend so much.  It will build new foundations between science, policy and society in order to strengthen management of our oceans for the benefit of us all.  It promises to provide an important platform to enable the gathering and synthesis of knowledge to provide the basis for informed, science-based decisions which will underpin improvements in ecological health and enable us all to continue to benefit from our oceans into the future.

As the Editor-in-Chief of Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries I’m excited about the opportunities that the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development brings for our community as well as for our oceans and the life within it. Generating and synthesising research, identifying knowledge gaps, and setting priorities for the future on various aspects of fish and fisheries biology is our focus.

In line with my optimism for the future, I am pleased to report that we will be publishing a special issue titled “Future Seas 2030: pathways to sustainability” which will set the scene for the decade to come. The issue will detail interdisciplinary, evidence-informed, plausible scenarios of the future by 2030 for a range of 12 key challenges that our ocean face such as climate driven species redistribution, marine pollution, food security, conservation, and ensuring a fair future for indigenous peoples.  We look forward to playing an important role in providing 'The Science We Need for the Ocean We Want'.”

© Springer


Raising our Voice for Coral Reefs on World Oceans Day

by Professor Andréa G. Grotolli, President of the International Coral Reef Society.
Coral Reefs is the journal of the International Coral Reefs Society.

"World Oceans Day. A day to appreciate the wonder of the salty liquid that covers this Earth, its intricate connection to the Earth’s weather and climate, and its vital role as the home to millions of organisms big and small. Also a day to recognize that the Oceans are under threat. Whether from climate change, plastic pollution, or over-fishing... 

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... to name a few, humans are irreversibly altering this vast Andrea Grotolli © Springerenvironment that covers 70% of the Earth’s surface. Coral reefs are a particularly special part of the ocean. Covering less than 0.2% of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to over a third of all marine species and have an estimated global annual economic value of nearly $ 10 trillion. Yet they are under intense threat from global heat waves that cause mass bleaching events and large scale mortality. As the planet continues to warm, the intensity and frequency of bleaching events continues to rise and threatens the survival of coral reefs. Coupled with coastal threats like pollution and over-fishing, and the gradual global acidification of the oceans, coral reefs are declining before our eyes. My research focuses on understanding what makes some corals more resilient than others in the face of climate change. Corals that feed more on zooplankton, have greater fat reserves, or can shuffle the species of their symbiotic algal partners, tend to bleach less and recover faster following bleaching events. Such findings offer strategies for identifying corals most likely to survive this century and potential candidates for reef restoration and conservation.

But scientific findings alone are not enough. Unless we translate science into action, most coral reefs could disappear within 20-30 years. As President of the International Coral Reef Society (ICRS), I have been working with my team of Officers and Council members to develop a Plan of Action for the Society that includes increasing ICRS engagement in high level discussions that influence policy recommendations on the global stage. ICRS is a scientific organization, and through our partnership with the International Coral Reef Initiative, we provide the best available research findings to the forefront of policy formulation and decision making. Our flagship journal, Coral Reefs, is one of the premier journals in marine science. Ranked 6th out of 108 journals in Marine and Freshwater Science according to Web of Science, Coral Reefs is a leader in publishing cutting edge coral reef research.

On this upcoming World Oceans Day, the work of coral reef scientists and the ICRS are more important than ever. How we as a community come together to raise our voice for coral reef research, science-based collective action, and the protection of reefs for future generations, will determine what kind of coral reefs exist on this planet over the coming decades. And saving coral reefs saves humans by protecting coastlines and supporting local economies, while providing an ecosystem of wonder and amazement. I am raising my voice. We all need to raise our voice.

She and her team are primarily focused on determining what drives resilience in corals in the face of climate change. She has won several awards including the F.W. Clarke Award in Geochemistry, the Mid-Career and the Best Paper Awards from the International Society for Reef Studies, and the Voyager Award from the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Section. She was recently recognized as a 2020-2021 Fulbright Scholar.

© Springer


No Country is an Island

By Professor Karin Bryan, Editor-in-Chief of Geo-Marine Letters

“In our many communications with authors and reviewers at Geo-Marine Letters, one thing is painfully apparent.  In 25 years of being an active marine researcher, there has been no time like the last few months for putting immense pressure on researchers to perform over a wide range of portfolios...

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Karin Bryan © Karin Bryan… Many have seen their drivers of creating new knowledge to underpin a stronger, more resilient environment crumble in the face of unemployment, keeping families safe, helping those in immediate need, and being called on by their employers to maintain critical strands underpinning economic viability. Government income streams are rapidly getting repurposed into keeping people employed, helping businesses survive, and increasing capability in health. One of the most surprising things is the unintended consequence of globalisation, and our complete and utter lack of resilience. If we think back to the principles of sound environmental management: we must insure resilience by building in buffers, and managing by staying well below environmental limits. We should also build resilience by managing holistically, so that we support cultural, social and environmental aspirations rather than only economic gains.  

Over the last 10 or 15 years, we have all read these lofty platitudes in government planning documents carefully when preparing proposals for funding. However, the stark evidence from the effect of the pandemic is that governments have failed to fund the work that would have achieved this.  As researchers, our job is more critical than ever. Despite the immediate and often personal urgency of the COVID-19 response, we need to hold our governments to account, and make sure that building resilience based on sound environmental principles features clearly in recovery strategies. 

To be clear, I have the immense fortune of being based in New Zealand, where our remote location and island geography mean that we have been able to fend off the immediate consequences of the pandemic. However, I know that New Zealand stands to lose substantially over longer timescales from a de-globalized economy. Standing with my academic colleagues, I am dismayed at the prospect of returning to the isolated existence that held us back academically for many years. I too find it hard to prioritise holistic global benefits over immediate local outcomes. However, now we have the most compelling evidence ever, and we as researchers need rise to the challenge to use this to argue toward a substantial change in priorities and developing a truly resilient society.”

  • Professor Karin Bryan is Director of the Environmental Research Institute at the University of Waikato in New Zealand (@WaikatoEri
    She is currently working on projects from the NZ National Science Challenges “Resilience to Nature’s Challenges” and “Sustainable Seas”, along with working with computer scientists at the University of Waikato to set up TAIAO, New Zealand’s first environmental platform for data science and artificial intelligence.
    Karin Bryan is Editor-in-Chief of Geo-Marine Letters.

© Springer


The Forgotten Forests of the Seas

by Dr. Sergio Rossi, Author of Oceans in Decline

"In the 1970s we became aware of the problems caused by deforestation in the Amazonian tropical forest. That was the moment that we defined this complex and biodiverse ecosystem as the lung of the Earth. However, time passed and researchers identified the real lung of the earth: the oceans and the coastal areas...

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Sergio Rossi © Springer... It's not that tropical forests are not important for oxygen production through photosynthesis, but tiny humble cells are responsible for at least half of the oxygen production on Earth. It's not the first time that, due to the biased perspective between ocean and land, we pay more attention to the terrestrial areas compared to the aquatic ones. During the last decades, research programs, private enterprise entrepreneurs, politics and society called for a higher relevance for the oceans’ role in our lives. However, the truth is that we still do not know enough about the role of the seas in the Earth’s functioning. 

The knowledge of benthic ecosystems harboring suspension feeding animals is very scarce compared to terrestrial habitats. In shallow waters we find tropical coral reefs, but the real splendor of these habitats is far beyond in the deep. At depths of below 100m, the Marine Animal Forests (MAFs - three dimensional living structures composed of corals, sponges, gorgonians, corals, etc.) completely dominate the seascape in the world´s oceans. In the overall carbon equation, it has been claimed for the role of animals as carbon (C) immobilizers, but we do not have a reliable number (in most of cases we do not even have a number at all) in these MAFs. Are these ecosystems a key factor for the so called “missed or hidden carbon” in the planet’s overall biogeochemical cycle? There is no answer yet to this question because we simply do not know its extent, distribution, basic biological knowledge (in some cases) and importance.

The development of C sequestration estimates across large scales in marine habitats will contribute to the development of adequate policy, as well as to the implementation of management and conservation actions and the recognition of Blue Carbon benefits from MAFs. Prioritizing conservation actions would then lead to the identification of candidate areas for active restoration where MAFs have been removed or modified by physical disturbance or other local-scale perturbations. Where environmental conditions preclude effective restoration, pre-emptive conservation measures (e.g., prohibition of bottom trawling at mesophotic and deep-sea habitats) should be considered to maintain the integrity of representative MAFs. Protection measures - even if essential - are not enough, we must take some decisive action to change the restoration measures. Such measures, if implemented, need to be realistic and ambitious. Without prompt action, we will continue to lose yet another set of habitats that may help to mitigate biodiversity loss and climate change effects. Such restoration actions have to be more practical, translating from the academic world to a more integrative and transversal approach, in which a direct citizen commitment is seriously considered thanks also to an interface between social and natural sciences.

Only with challenging and brave ideas, always based on the scientific tools that we have, may we indeed solve the multiple problems that we have provoked. Considering large conservation and restoration programs to protect marine animal forests (and all the forests of the sea), promoting among other things the biodiversity and the carbon immobilization, has to be a priority in future ocean management plans."

  • Dr. Sergio Rossi is Associate Professor at the Università del Salento in Lecce (Italy) and visiting professor at the Universidade Federal do Ceará in Fortaleza (Brazil).
    He is specialized in marine natural resources and biological oceanography. He is especially interested in the processes and conservation of the marine animal forests of the world.
    Sergio Rossi is author of the book Oceans in Decline.


Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Marine Mammals © Springer Nature 2020


Thoughts on the Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Marine Mammals

by Professor Bernd Würsig, Series Editor, and Dr. Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, Volume Editor,
of the book series Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Marine Mammals

"Many of us have enjoyed sea lions elegantly balancing balls on their noses, dolphins jumping through hoops or gliding onto a water ramp to be kissed, and polar bears delighting visitors with their clumsy-seeming terrestrial gate, in a zoological park with fake rocks painted to look like snowdrifts.  This is how we first appreciated marine mammals as a youngster 50 years ago, but our appreciation now...

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...  -- thank goodness -- is largely of these magnificent animalsG. Notarbartolo di Sciara and B. Wuersig © Springer in Nature hunting, mating, taking care of their little ones, surviving.  Millions of us can go to see them, but (and we believe better yet), tens of millions can watch thoughtful, scientifically accurate Nature programs that allow us to understand their habits better than ever before. Millions can also read books, and this is the main subject here.

Nature shows -- movies, videos, internet blogs -- of the lives of marine mammals of our oceans (and some rivers) are made possible because of research -- begun only about 50 years ago. There are presently over 3,000 such researchers, publishing hundreds of peer-reviewed science papers every month, and dozens of books for popular and professional audiences. Springer Nature is happy to present the new 7-book series Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Marine Mammals

Issues of ethology and behavioral ecology are explored in the first 6 books of the series, on: 1) odontocetes (the toothed whales and dolphins), 2) mysticetes (baleen whales), 3) otariids (sea lions and fur seals) and the walrus, 4) phocids ("true" seals), 5) sirenians (manatees and the dugong, collectively "sea cows"), and 6) the special case of the carnivorous sea otter and polar bear. Each book is edited by well-known researchers, authored by over a dozen others, and copiously illustrated with representative species, behaviors, and figures and charts. The books are scientific, with rigorous peer review and science references, but the authors and editors have kept the intelligent lay person in mind, so that anybody who wishes to can browse, pick and choose favorite topics, learn and enjoy. Above all, an appreciation shines through of almost universally marine mammalian highly social and behaviorally flexible ways.

The seventh (and final) book is on Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Marine Mammals: The Evolving Human Factor. Thus, it draws together concepts of the fragility of the World Ocean and how we humans impact those habitats and the marine mammals that make them their home. This is not a mere list of problems; throughout it chronicles the problems, past and present; but attempts also to give guideposts to the future, of what may be and what should be with proper human care, accumulating knowledge (perhaps even wisdom?), and stewardship.  Not all is good, not all is promising, but there are glimmers of hope, especially after the giant slaughter of furred marine mammals in the past Centuries, and factory ship modern intensive whaling only several decades ago. We "love dolphins", but the series and this final book show us why we may "love all marine mammals" -- but also (we hope) teaches us that these charismatic large fauna examples are powerful but mere examples -- we should be loving all of the World Oceans and all of Nature. Sea lions, seals, polar bears, sea otters, dolphins, the sperm and blue whale (the largest toothed creature and overall largest animal ever, respectively!) to inhabit this beautiful blue and green Earth -- are vehicles to "catch us", to love and to respect our natural world.

This seems a strange time to be writing about the behavioral ways of marine mammals. We as one mammalian species of Earth are in the midst of a disease crisis, and are challenged to care for ourselves, not other bits of Nature! Why write about "mere" marine mammals at this time?  We gently but firmly need to remind ourselves that we are all connected with Nature, and if we do not heed and attempt to reverse its increasing destruction, we will be the less for it. Our goals are also solidly in line with the United Nation's 17 major Sustainable Development Goals for humanity, especially Goal 4: to strive for quality education for all, Goal 13: to be a part of effective climate action, and Goal 14: for protection and stewardship of life on and below our waters.

These books are an homage to magnificent mammals of the seas, and a bit of a glimpse into their marvelous worlds. May we recognize that in some important ways, they are parts of "us", and may they, we and the rest of Nature survive and thrive."

  • Professor Bernd Würsig is Regents and University Distinguished Professor of Texas A&M University. He is Past-President and Honorary Lifetime Member of the International Society for Marine Mammalogy. 
    He has published about 200 peer reviewed papers, chapters, and 9 books; and been senior advisor to 70 graduate students and 14 movies on nature interpretation. He was nominated for an Academy Award for an IMAX movie on dolphins.
    Bernd Würsig is Series Editor of Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Marine Mammals, a 7 volume book series to be published 2019-2022. The first volume Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Odontocetes was published in 2019.
  • Dr. Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara (@GNotarbartolodS) is a marine conservation ecologist. 
    He started the Italian National Cetacean Stranding Network, began and funded the Tethys Research Institute, which he directed throughout much of its tenure. He spearheaded the creation of the world’s first high-seas marine protected area, the Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals. He was President of Italy's Central Institute for Applied Marine Research, served as the Italian Commissioner at the International Whaling Commission, and as Chair of the Scientific Committee of ACCOBAMS. He is currently the Scientific Councillor for aquatic mammals at the Convention on Migratory Species; Co-chair of the IUCN Joint SSC/WCPA Task Force on Marine Mammal Protected Areas; Deputy Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission - Cetacean Specialist Group; Member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission - Shark Specialist Group; Member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative, and Member of the Board and Lifetime Member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy. He has authored over 220 scientific works and several books.
    Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara is co-Editor of Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Marine Mammals: The Evolving Human Factor (to be published in 2022), the seventh and final book in the series Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Marine Mammals.

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Springer is committing to open research in the natural sciences of oceans dynamics and ecosystems, economics, international relations, law, anthropology, climate impacts and more. We support academics, professionals and practitioners around the world, in offering cutting-edge research in a vibrant Ocean Science research collection. With over 2,000 scientific books and 90 journals, we offer the Ocean community to further expand its knowledge and to develop multidisciplinary approaches for sustainable solutions.

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