June 08 is World Ocean Day. Soon many of us will be gearing up for a nice vacation at our favorite beach or looking forward to a relaxing weekend at the shore, but June’s also a good time to reflect on what the sea means to us and what we can do to make it healthier. Here are a few things to consider over the next few days.
- Fourteen billion pounds of garbage ends up in the ocean every year. How much of that is yours? Recycling really does make a difference.
- Most of the protein humans consume comes from fish. What happens when pollution makes fish so sick they become inedible? And what becomes of us when we over fish and our oceans are void of life? It’s a problem we really can solve.
- Plastic in our oceans accounts for the deaths of more than a million sea birds and 100,000 sea mammals. Do you really want to be part of that problem?
- Deaths from shark bites average about seven to ten a year worldwide. In the U.S. alone, deaths from bee stings number around 53. Lightning kills about 9o people. Don’t believe the hype created by Hollywood movies.
- Because of the similarities between coral and human bones, coral is being used to repair bones. Kill off the coral reefs and you’re killing off a lot more than one of Mother Ocean’s precious nurseries, nurseries that harbor thousands of fish vital to our food chain.
- The average cruise ship generates over 200,000 gallons of sewage in a week. Add to that a million gallons of gray water from showers and laundries, 130 gallons of hazardous waste, eight tons of solid waste, and 25,000 gallons of bilge water contaminated with oil. Some cruise lines are extremely conscious of that and proactive. Is yours?
- Eighty percent of the pollution in the oceans comes from land. Called non-point pollution, much of it is from cars, trucks, boats, farms, and all the chemicals dumped on lawns every year. Ever wonder what you could do to stem this deadly tide?
- Did you know drift gillnets are one of the tools some fishermen use? These can be up to a mile wide and a hundred feet deep. As much as sixty percent of what’s caught in them is discarded. Turtles with flippers ripped from their bodies, whales and dolphins drowned because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Oh, wait! The ocean IS where they belong. If the wanton destruction of sea life disturbs you, go back to facebook or do something like supporting oceana.org or the Ocean Conservancy.
- The Deep Water Horizon spill in the Gulf resulted in 200 million gallons of crude oil being spilled. The recent leak in Santa Barbara was estimated at 100,000 gallons. Now imagine that much crude oil washing up on your favorite beach, destroying jobs in your community, and devastating wildlife and marine life you enjoy. No matter how technologically advanced we become, oil spills are inevitable. Do you really want to support a policy of more offshore drilling when a field of green energy is begging to be developed?
- In a recent beach cleanup, the Ocean Conservancy found over 2 million cigarette butts and over a million each of food wrappers, plastic bottles, and plastic grocery bags. Were any of them yours? You don’t have to wait for World Ocean Day. You could pick up some litter in your local park. That’s less garbage likely to end up in the ocean.
We have a long ways to go to restore our oceans to where they need to be. To do nothing is to be part of the problem. Do what you can in your corner of the world. Sometimes it might be a simple thing like putting a little pressure on your congressman. Or making others aware of their careless actions. Spend five minutes less surfing the web this week and educate yourself at one of the sites that follow. You’ll be fascinated and inspired to do more. So tell me. What one small thing will you do this coming week for Mother Ocean?
www.savethesea.org oceana.org wildoceans.org seakeepers.org www.oceanconservancy.org