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This piece was first published in the Finnish newspaper Ålandstidningen 11/7, it has been translated for this blog.

Imagine this view on a sunny day: blue skies, the sun shining and glimmering on the surface of the sea. But zoom in a bit closer, and you’ll see an entirely different picture: murky waters, and algae blooms suffocating kelp forests, and small fish in shallow waters gasping for air. This is the current reality we are facing: wide-spread human activities have led to the decline of the Baltic Sea and other oceans globally.

A few days ago, the Internet was abuzz with news about the Chilean Devil Ray’s ability to reach previously unknown depths.  What a perfect excuse to introduce this species to our readers!

Despite its intimidating name, this mostly solitary creature (though it can be found in groups) is harmless to humans and feeds on small fish and plankton. It can grow to reach 4 meters across and weigh up to 350kgs!

Blue Growth is a new strategy recently launched in the EU, wherein seas and oceans are seen as drivers of the European economy. It represents about 5.4 million jobs and is expected to generate a gross added value of almost €500 billion a year. Shipping, coastal and cruise tourism, offshore wind, shipbuilding, aquaculture and blue biotechnologies are considered to be some of the most promising sectors of the Baltic Sea maritime economy.