With the beginning of a new year, it’s wise to set a course straight and true not only in our personal lives but in King Neptune’s realm as well. Remember, if you don’t set a goal and aim for it, at the end of the year you’re going to be no closer to it. With the problems that face the sea, we can’t afford to sit out one more year hoping things will get better.
Anyone in love with the sea or concerned about its health as well as those who work or play on it should keep a scrutinizing eye on the following issues:
… Coral bleaching. When coral becomes stressed either from water that’s too warm or from chemicals and sediments that don’t belong there, it turns white, a sure sign of a huge problem. If the problem doesn’t go away, the coral will die. That’s a huge problem. Coral beds are the nurseries for all kinds of fish. Kill off those on the lower chain, kill off those above it.
… Overfishing. This doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation. A lot of species of fish are being over fished all around the world. When they can’t rebound, they die off till extinction becomes a reality. For millions of people from a wide panorama of cultures, it means the difference between a sustainable living and a life of poverty. Overfishing has actually contributed to Somalian piracy; with other countries illegally fishing in local waters, options are limited for fishermen trying to feed their family.
… Excessive shark hunting. This includes finning, a process of removing the fins of a shark while it is still alive then throwing it back into the sea where it will die. Who cares about a few sharks? They deserve what they get when you consider the blood thirsty creatures they are as evidenced by JAWS. You should. To set the record straight, people are not on the main menu of sharks. They’re not even listed on the dessert menu. Sharks have a voracious appetite but it’s for fish. When sharks disappear from the ocean in great numbers, the rest of the oceanic environment is in deep trouble.
… Global warming. It’s almost embarrassing to have to mention this; the problem is systemic to many of the other grave problems the planet faces. Rising seas from melting polar caps is causing havoc for species all around the world. In third world nations bordering the sea, peoples’ lives are being seriously threatened. In a recent visit to Indonesia, my son met islanders who confided that the patterns of the sea had changed so drastically within the past ten years that they had to configure their beds so that they were hinged against a wall instead of sitting on the floor. Why? Because the sea was literally lapping at their door step.
… People aren’t the only ones affected by global warming. Because of melting ice, the habitats and hunting habits of polar bears, seals, and fish are drastically affected. It’s hard to imagine a polar bear drowning or even starving to death, but sadly it’s becoming too commonplace.
… A terrifying fact that is not talked about enough is the exponential rate that the loss of our polar caps has on global warming. With less snow surface to reflect sunlight back into space, those warming rays become saturated by the planet. This is speeding up the global warming effect. If that doesn’t scare the hell out of you, you’re not paying attention.
… Plastic in the ocean is creating havoc for all kinds of sea life. Turtles are one of the most vulnerable. It’s hard for a hungry turtle to distinguish between a plastic bag or small bottle and a jelly fish. You may not be able to directly halt the rising seas, but you can cut back on your use of plastic bottles and shopping bags.
Quite a number of other areas need our attention, and I’ll deal with those next week. Meanwhile, ask yourself how much you’re willing to commit to making this the year you do something to make the oceans, rivers, and lakes a safer and healthier place, not just for those who work and play on them but for those who call it home. What will YOU do? Act as if it makes all the difference in the world because for some creatures of the deep, it does.