The text on this site is presented as an archival version of the script of "Ocean Planet," a 1995 Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition. The content reflects the state of knowledge at the time of the exhibition, and has not been updated.

Clearing land disrupts life in waters near and far.

Removing shoreline vegetation causes immediate side effects: water flow, quality, and temperature change for the remaining plants and animals. Deforestation farther inland causes delayed reactions. When roots no longer hold soil in place, it ends up muddying streams, rivers, and coastal waters.

Felling tropical forests smothers faraway reefs §

Indo-pacific goldfish above a healthy coral wall covered with sea anemones, Balayan Bay, Philippines, 1992
photo © Dale Glantz

Coral reefs thrive in clear, sunlit tropical waters and support abundant and diverse fish populations. Soil erosion from widespread land clearing can send tons of silt downstream. Sediment clouds the water, blocking sunlight, and settles on reefs, suffocating the organisms.

Heavily silted reef, Philippines
photo © Lynn Funkhouser

Taking down a tropical forest tree, Papua New Guinea, 1983
During the 1980s over 381 million acres (154 million hectares) of tropical forests were lost--an area almost three times the size of France. Clearing continues for logging, farming and ranching, and rural development.
photo © James Blair/National Geographic Society

Logging in old-growth forests stymies salmon

Sockeye salmon swimming upstream to spawn
Brooks River, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska, 1990
photo © Jeff Foott

Salmon travel from salt water and swim upstream to spawn in clear, gravel stream beds. Silt from logging and road-building buries the gravel of many salmon-spawning streams, and removal of shade trees raises water temperature.

Mature second-growth forest logged to the border of a salmon- spawning stream
near Botany Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
photo © Doug Wechsler/Animals Animals

Logging old-growth sitka spruce
Lyell Island, British Columbia
Old-growth logging may cost more jobs in the salmon industry than jobs at risk from restrictions on logging. Fishing on the Pacific coast of North America is a $10 billion industry that employs as many as 200,000 Americans and Canadians annually.
photo © Steve Jackson/URSUS

Other Resources:

Ocean Planet Exhibition Floorplan

gene carl feldman ( (301) 286-9428
Judith Gradwohl, Smithsonian Institution (Curator/Ocean Planet)