The last paragraph of Charles Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species' is one of my favourite pieces of writing. Some of what Darwin writes in On the Origin of Species is difficult to get through, but the last paragraph is exceptional.
It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
It is, indeed, interesting to contemplate an entangled bank and the animals and plants that live on and within it. Equally, though, it is interesting to contemplate the wave-washed shore and the organisms that associate with it. And then to lift your gaze to the waters behind the breakers and reflect on the elaborately constructed forms that live beneath the surface. The ocean places a whole host of challenges on the life found there that lead to the evolution of strategies not seen in terrestrial habitats. In this blog I'll be writing about the things that interest me. Mostly, that's the open ocean.