New map reveals how little ‘wild’ ocean is actually left on our planet

Rob Waugh
Even coral reefs are no longer untouched by man (Rex)

For many of us, the ocean is the last truly ‘wild’ space – a huge area where the elements reign supreme.

But there is very little truly ‘wild’ ocean left, a new study has suggested.

Research published in Current Biology by Australian researchers found that just 13.2% of the world’s oceans can truly be considered ‘wilderness’ – ie unaffected by fishing, pollution and shipping.

Most of these areas are in international waters, away from human settlements – and very few coastal areas are ‘wilderness’, even coral reefs.

Researchers used satellite data and pollution report to analyse the impact of human activities on oceans around the world.

The white areas are the ‘wilderness’ parts of the sea, relatively untouched by human pollution, fishing and shipping (Picture: Current Biology)

Lead author Kendall Jones said, ‘[Wilderness is] a place where the environment and ecosystem is acting in basically an undisturbed way that’s free from human activity.’


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‘Studies have shown that places free from intense levels of human activity have really high levels of biodiversity and high genetic diversity.

‘We didn’t have an idea of where across the globe these intact places could still be found.’