Today is the first annual UN World Oceans Day. What does this mean? It’s an effort to shine a spotlight on the state of our oceans. It’s easy to stand on most shores, look out at the horizon, and feel a lot of peace about how beautiful the oceans are. But unfortunately, our oceans are in trouble. Very serious trouble, actually. Trash getting into the water is a major one, leading to things like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. There are other places around the world where trash is collecting, but this is the largest. A comprehensive report on marine litter was just released today.
What can we do? Well, a lot, but here’s a start:
If you smoke, dispose of your butts in a container. Stamping them on the ground just means they will get washed into some waterway and it has been shown that the filters contain plastics that make water toxic to fish. And the butts are eaten by fish, turtles and other marine life, which also kills them. Butts are trash. They shouldn’t just be tossed around and beaches are not giant ashtrays.
If you like seafood, make sure you are choosing something that is sustainable. Aquariums like the Monterey Bay Aquarium keep a close eye on this issue. Here’s a list of “good” fish to eat in a relative list. Overfishing is a massively important issue, and really greatly ignored. Some people are starting to make a stand, including against high end restaurants serving highly endangered bluefin tuna. Don’t eat at restaurants that serve shark fin soup. Sharks are disappearing at alarming rates because of being finned for a soup, where the fins add no taste and it’s simply “fashionable” to eat. Now, sharks are disappearing so fast that manta rays are being caught in increasing numbers for the soup. Human greed and consumption is vastly outpacing the oceans.
Go on a whale watch. See the ocean at work with your own eyes. What people know about, they tend to better protect. Not near the ocean? There are a bunch of great IMAX films available on DVD which is like being right there. I rather like Deep Sea 3D, myself, and am looking forward to one day getting “Dolphins and Whales 3D” on DVD.
I am still learning about the oceans and the myriad wonders, mysteries and problems. A lot of people out there have posted hints as well, so Google it and see what you can do. We must all make the effort, or there will be no more fish, no more whales, no more coral reefs, etc etc. As the oceans go, so will go our entire planet. Just because we can’t see the bottom of the ocean from the surface, doesn’t mean there is no bottom. And as Lucy Lawless said in a PSA, “there is no Planet B”. (Yes the PSA is primarily about climate change, but the oceans’ ability to absorb carbon dioxide is key to our climate.) Taking care of the oceans means taking care of us and all of this planet’s residents.