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Covering more than 70 percent of our planet, oceans are among the Earth’s most valuable natural resources. World Ocean’s Day on June 8 is a day to learn more about the problems we are currently facing so that we can get inspired and creative and, most importantly, take action. The disturbing facts below should raise alarms bels with us all – there is no excuse to stand aside.
- Oceans could contain more plastics than fish by 2050.
- Plastic pollution is the most serious threat to the ocean. Plastic doesn’t degrade – it breaks down, but never disappears. It is a significant health threat to sea creatures and to the entire marine ecosystem. According to a study done by the University of Georgia, 18 billion pounds of plastic trash ends up in our oceans each year…that’s enough trash to cover the whole coastline around the world! The good news is that each of us can have a positive impact on this situation by reducing plastic use. And here are some great ways to do it!
- Oceans are also known as ‘the lungs of the Earth.’ Water dissolves carbon dioxide which is a bi-product of human activities such as burning fossil fuels, using transportation or industrial manufacturing. Oceans absorb around a quarter of all man-made carbon emissions and until the 1970s, chemicals, radioactive waste and garbage was deliberately dumped into the oceans as it was assumed it would dissolve. However, the more waste there is, the more acidic and less hospitable to sea life our oceans become. If we keep going at this pace, by the end of the century oceans will be 150% more acidic than they are now which will be detrimental to everything that lives in the oceans.
- Marine protected areas (MPAs) – like the Galapagos – one of the largest MPAs on Earth – are critical to guarding habitats from destructive fishing practices. Unfortunately, only 1.6% of oceans have been declared MPAs.
- Whales are sitting right at the top of the ocean’s food chain and are playing a crucial role in supporting the health of the marine environment. At the same time, 7 out of 13 great whale species are classified as endangered!
- 300,000 dolphins and porpoises die each year by becoming entangled in discarded fishing nets.
- Small fish absorb plastic and chemicals as food. They are then eaten by larger fish and the chemical concentrations increase. We, in turn, eat the contaminated seafood which can lead to serious health problems.
Things you can do to protect the oceans
- Use less plastic. That is the best we can all do!
- Reduce energy consumption. Leave your car at home whenever you can, switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs and don’t forget to turn off the lights.
- Make sustainable seafood choices. Unsustainable fishing practices need to stop. When dinning out, opt for fish you know was caught legally and by a company you trust. Or go vegan!
- Take care of the beach. After spending time at the local beach, tidy up behind you. Leave nothing behind and avoid touching or moving marine rocks and coral that are vital for underwater life. Go one step further and pick up any trash that others may have left behind.
- Don’t support industries that use coral, tortoiseshell or shark products in their jewellery and accessories.
- Avoid marine parks and shows. Dolphins jumping and clapping at aqua-circuses are not having fun, they are being held there against their will and nature and often feel miserable. Prevent the growth of these cruel activities by excluding them from your ‘to-do’ list forever.