Today is World Oceans Day, a day where we honor, protect, and take action to conserve the world’s seas. It’s easy to forget about the importance of the world’s oceans. But the health of the seas has a direct impact on all life, even if you don’t live near a coastline.
World Oceans Day is about recognizing two things: that our oceans are suffering because of mankind, and that the choices we make as individuals absolutely matter. Here are 5 reasons why saving the world’s oceans is important.
Whales Are Dying From Consuming Plastic
In recent years, whales have been found on coastlines around the world with their stomachs full of plastic. Scientists say that because they’ve consumed so much plastic, they are no longer able to eat. This results in starvation, heart failure, and death.
If whales were to succumb to extinction, the creatures they feed on, ranging from tiny plankton to larger animals like squid, would experience population booms. When one species goes extinct and another flourishes in its absence, the entire ecosystem can be thrown off balance.
How can you help to prevent this from happening? Limit your use of single-use plastics! Take a reusable tote to the grocery store, say no to single-use straws in your iced drinks, don’t use plastic cutlery, and make sure you recycle all plastics properly!
Carbon Pollution Is Turning The Seas Acidic
Ocean acidification is a byproduct of human-caused climate change that isn’t so commonly known. When carbon levels on our planet rise, the oceans begin storing it before the atmosphere does. Added carbon in the oceans causes acidification.
When carbon dioxide is present in the water, it causes fish to lose their sense of smell. This means that fish are less likely to find food and survive until adulthood, and fish populations are slower to replenish when fished. When fish populations dwindle, people who live near coastlines have to turn to other sources of food.
What can you do about it? Consider ways you can reduce your carbon footprint in your day-to-day life! Ride your bike to work, turn off the lights when you aren’t in the room, and if available, consider buying low-carbon, renewable power from your local utility.
Oceans Create Trillions Of Dollars In Economic Activity Every Year
Just as there is an environmental incentive to save the oceans, there are economic incentives as well. If the world’s oceans were a country, they’d be the 7th largest economy on the planet because of fishing, tourism, and shipping routes. When the oceans suffer, so do many of these industries.
For example, mass coral reef death means scuba diving businesses have fewer places to explore. Every year, more than 350 million people travel to see coral reef coasts around the world. Additionally, wildlife watching accounts for more than $300 million in money spent each year. Like tourism, food sources are impacted as well. When fisheries are depleted, fishers around the world have a harder time making ends meet.
Want to help? Organize or join up with a beach cleanup group! Cleaning up beaches is a great way to keep plastic pollution out of the ocean.
Plastic In The Ocean Ends Up In Your Stomach
Scientists have discovered that fish are becoming more and more prone to consuming plastic as opposed to their normal diet. This means that fish aren’t just less healthy and not growing to their normal size, but also that the plastic in them ends up in you. Oceans provide about 16% of the food humans eat, which means that a lot of this plastic ends up in us.
A recent study found that one in four fish in the ocean has plastic in its gut. For someone who eats a large quantity of shellfish, you could be eating as many as 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic every year! This is clearly not good for the health of sea creatures, and as a result, humans who consume seafood as well.
One way to reduce plastic in our waterways is to begin washing clothes in the Guppy Friend bag. The bag reduces how much plastic polyester is shed into waterways.
Without Direct Actions, Scientists Say The Oceans Will Move Into An “Extinction Phase”
Today, scientists are warning of a new mass extinction unlike any other: caused by one of the planet’s inhabitants. (Spoiler: it’s us.) Around the world, fish stocks have been collapsing, countless creatures are going extinct, and the ecosystems of the oceans are falling out of balance.
It’s a big problem, but it’s one that you can have a direct impact on helping protect our oceans. Reducing your carbon footprint, abstaining from single-use plastics, participating in beach cleanups, and being sure not to purchase items that unsustainably exploit marine life are all ways that you can have an impact today.
What do you do to help protect the oceans? Tweet at us and let us know, using the hashtags #WorldOceansDay and #tentree!