by Andrey BIRYUKOV, geographer
Due to the dwindling of resources of continents and their pollution specialists began to consider the problem of sea stock. Even on dry land, which is explored much better than the bottom and waters of the World Ocean, people often use natural resources irrationally. And what can we say about the seas and oceans? Not so long ago we realized that they are not a "horn of plenty" and their surface is not a wheat field. We cannot plow or fertilize it to make the harvest reach.
Resources of the World Ocean are not limitless, but abundant; we have to thoroughly explore and assess them in order to use this wealth in the right way. Impelled by this idea, famous French oceanologist Jacques-Yves Cousteau about 40 years ago began to construct under-sea houses for scientists which, as he dreamed, would become a prototype of scientific and even business settlements of the near future. But even his enthusiasm and indomitable energy could promote some very short and rather expensive experiments. Finally, the author himself dismissed this idea.
At the same time landscapers started studies of sea resources. They tried to give complex assessments of factors influencing productivity of the World Ocean. Studies of sea resources were carried out in the way, part of which has been described in a book under review (Nataliya Mitina, Geoecological Studies of Landscapes of Sea Shallow Waters, M., Nauka, 2005, 197 pp.).
It is easy to explain why the author and her colleagues pay maximum attention to shallow waters. First, the "border" between sea and land has a strongly marked "border effect" due to increased variety and representation of living organisms there. As a consequence, it is a zone of active reproduction of marine and fresh water ecosystems, centralization of global stock of fish and other seafood. Second, it is shallow water that are being polluted by economic anthropogenic activities on the shores and discharges of coastal rivers, navigation and ship accidents, seabed mining, commercial fishing, recreational activities, etc. These processes are developing not only on the coast, but also in the basins of rivers carrying harmful substances from deep inside the continents and islands. Shallow waters attract attention of people who feel the lack of land resources. So, everyone understands why this zone becomes so attractive to specialist studying the resources of the World Ocean. Scientific geographical schools have reached considerable success in development of complex physical-and-geographical studies of underwater landscapes and their classification, but quantitative stability and stabilizing capacity of their separate components remain insufficiently investigated.
The book was written on the basis of materials gathered in the course of studies of the Russian section of the Far Eastern coat of the Sea of Japan (length - 60 km, depth - up to 40 km). Scientists explored geological and morphological structures of landscapes, hydrometeorological conditions (volume of discharge of inflowing rivers and streams), hydro-dynamic regime, benthic soil, and communities of plants and animals.
The area under investigation was comparatively small, the author refers her conclusions only to the Sea of Japan basin, and one could consider her monograph to be too specific, but this is not so.
The book begins with an introduction describing the difference between land and sea scapes, available classifications and structured and collected information which can be used for assessment of natural resources, their stock, stability and potentials of extraction. The first chapter of the book is dedicated to the relevant research works, description of gathered material and its classification.
Thus, the first chapter with a survey introduction can serve as a textbook on a marine landscape science for entrants or, at least, as a detailed study guide for any geographer-geomorphologist, oceanologist, and bio-geographer who never heard anything of this discipline. It is not so incredible: the author believes that studies on these problems are still occasional and have been carried out for about 40 - 50 years.
The final chapter of this book includes some data on methods of assessment of resources of sea shallow waters and assumptions on their use. Before this chapter the author carries out analysis of change of factors that influence a small area of the Far Eastern cost studied by Natalya Mitina, and connects obtained results with possible global changes of underwater landscapes of sea shores of the World Ocean.
Finally, it is absolutely clear, that detailed descriptions of methods of collection, processing and classifica-
tion of data are of high method value for this young science. The author (she is a senior research assistant of the RAS Institute of Water Problems) collected materials for this book for almost 15 years, carried out repeated measurements, improved laying of profiles in similar hydro-logical conditions, and the reader understands that this book is not a static, but dynamic set of information (Mitina is rather modest about her achievements but acknowledges that she organized monitoring of a coastal shelf zone under some parameters). She also included in the book all changes and improvement she had made in the process of gathering information.
We believe that the most interesting part of the monograph is an attempt to use collected materials for a practical assessment of possibilities of utilization of natural resources of the said region. The author complains that a complex assessment of natural resources of studied landscapes is far from being complete, but it is not just. She examined the natural-resources potential for harvesting and artificial cultivation of algae and cockles, and offered a scheme of the Middle Primoriye water zone division according to types of possible cultural development.
All the above-said is all right but there is one problem related to practical applications of studies under consideration. The author underlines that her studies were based on materials collected in 1972 - 1985. And we can only be sorry about the fact that the processing and publication of these materials took so much time, as economical and social situation in the region has considerably changed over the last 20 years. We are witnesses of a constant migration, poor industry and agriculture. It is beyond any questions that all these factors have impact on the level of marine pollution and a sea basin development, but these problems are not (and could not be) covered by the book. However, estimates and proposals made in the book cannot give short-term results, but can serve as an example showing that academic studies are always of great interest.
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