We've explored and settled Earth's wild lands, and we've begun to do so in space. But when it comes to our oceans, which cover a whopping 71 percent of our planet—just try to fathom that for a second—we're still largely in the dark.
That's not to discount the work of oceanographers and marine biologists, who've spent the last century in bathyspheres, submersibles, and good ol' boats to build a huge body of knowledge about our incredibly complex, diverse ocean systems. And yet compared to terrestrial studies (where mysteries also abound, of course), our oceans are a black box—one that just happens to be essential to Earth's very life-giving processes.
Much of what we know is concerning. The oceans are changing. They're warming and rising, and we're not sure what we'll do about it. They're acidifying to points suggestive of collapse, and crucial marine species are literally dissolving along the way. Oceans are flooded with plastic and having trouble breathing. Reefs are collapsing, and new promises of oil and undersea mining will only make the situation more complex.
Our oceans are also beautiful, and the more we learn, the more they inspire awe. It's pretty mind-blowing that whale poop can spawn entire ecosystems, or that a single species of fish can reshape a whole biome. What's even more awesome is that very awe can inspire genuine change.
So for August, a rather beachy month, our theme week is about oceans. We're calling it Hell or Salt Water, because (if I may be a tad dramatic, and I'm willing to be) if we fuck up our oceans, our planet's going to be a lot more hellish than it is now. We're looking for pitches across the entire oceanographic spectrum: from stories about cool fish to the tech that found them; from tales of just how battered our seas are to projections on how they can be saved. Most of all I want to know about what we don't know, and how we're using high tech on the high seas to find out.
Hell or Salt Water will run the week of August 10th to the 14th. As always, feel free to pitch your favorite editor with an outline of your story, what's new and compelling, and how you plan to make it happen. I'm available at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we welcome pitches to our editor email at email@example.com.