We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.
John F. Kennedy
Over half of the population of the U.S. lives within 50 miles of the coast, as does about 44 percent of the world’s population.
Is that because our Paleozoic amphibian ancestors crawled out of the swamp onto dry land and we have tended to stay close to shore ever since? That explanation would probably be too simple.
Maybe it’s because humans have tended to settle along trade routes. That would make sense.
We also know that ecosystems are most robust at “edges.” There is a lot of life where rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, and oceans meet dry land. So maybe we tend to be near the water because that’s just a natural place for living organisms to be.
But maybe we tend to settle near shorelines just because we like being on the coast. That seems as good a reason as any to me.
Of course not all civilizations and societies have a love for the sea. The ancient Hebrews, for example, who were hill-dwellers and they feared the sea–perhaps because their traditional enemies were sea-faring coast dwellers. In Biblical imagery the sea is a foreboding and dangerous place. On the “new earth” imagined in Revelation, there is no sea. No beaches in heaven? That might not sound heavenly to the beach-lovers among us.
It used to be a regular part of my life, but it’s been a long time now since I’ve been to the beach. Maybe I need to change that.
Just dreaming of a warm sunny beach on a cold winter morning…