JUN 10, 2016 08:45 AM PDT

On reflection of World Oceans Day


Perhaps one of the best feelings in the world is slipping into the cool silky salt of the ocean. Whether a quiet evening solo swim, a rowdy cannonball contest among friends, or a simple family picnic with a sea view, the oceans are always there, surrounding our land and our homes. For me, growing up in a beach town made summers the best part of the year. I came to appreciate the sensation of sand between my toes and to long for that distinct seaweed smell whenever I was landlocked. It is comforting to imagine the vastness of the oceans - big enough to hold all of one’s doubts and securities, the constancy of its tide cycles reminding one that life continues.
 

 
Two days ago we celebrated World Oceans Day as a day to take an extra moment to appreciate all that our oceans do for us. Because indeed it is a lot. They provide us with countless tons of food from fisheries and crustaceans; they absorb incredible amounts of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere, helping to balance the greenhouse effect; they inspire beauty from their nature and innovation their curious mystery. But we in turn are not respecting our relationship with the oceans. For all that they give us, we dump millions of tons of trash and sewage and toxic chemicals into their waters. Perhaps because they cover 71% of the planet we think that they can take this sort of treatment. But in recent years it has become clear that we are putting too much pressure on our oceans and their habitats.

The rise in ocean temperatures, in sea levels and the increase of ocean acidification are the three biggest threats to our oceans today. It is well known that many marine habitats are sensitive to marine water temperature changes. Coral reefs in particular are an example of ecosystems that are being devastated from the climate-change driven rise in temperature. Coral reef systems around the world are experiencing particularly intense periods of bleaching due to the El Niño phenomenon that has swept through the oceans this year.  
 

 
Ocean acidification, too, is an increasingly worrisome threat to the oceans. As we continue to burn fossil fuels and emit more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the oceans absorb this CO2 and the waters acidify. This, combined with an excess of agro-fertilizers that sink into the oceans from crop fields, can cause the growth of huge algal blooms, which absorb the oxygen in oceans and create dead zones where other animals perish for the lack of oxygen. Huge ecosystems are being wiped out from these dead zones.

And on top of all this, we all know that the oceans are rising. Because of melting glaciers, coastal communities - both human and non-human - risk the threat of inundation from rising sea levels. Some of the most fragile ecosystems are these coastal habitats which act as nurseries for fish, turtles, birds, and other marine animals.

So, what can YOU do in the midst of all this? Other than make environmentally friendly choices, you can educate yourself and others (especially those who don’t necessarily agree with you on these topics) with the facts and with techniques of how to convey those facts. You can also write to your local state representative, governor, or town representative to remind them to vote in favor of environmental legislature. Remember, every extra voice added to the fight counts!
 
 
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 27, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 27, 2018
Social Spiders Lose Their Minds After Meeting This Parasitoid Wasp
A curious team of researchers from the University of British Columbia was purportedly studying Anelosimus eximius spider nests in Ecuador in an effort to l...
DEC 09, 2018
Earth & The Environment
DEC 09, 2018
Fishermen unite to sue big oil
Almost a month has gone by since fishermen in California and Oregon filed suit against big oil in California's Superior Court, demanding compensation f...
DEC 31, 2018
Earth & The Environment
DEC 31, 2018
The Low-down on the Green New Deal
What is the Green New Deal? This is a term that has been thrown around a lot in recent months, equally in the political sphere as in the environmental sphe...
JAN 30, 2019
Plants & Animals
JAN 30, 2019
New Study Supports Idea That Sonar Causes Mass Stranding Events in Whales
The last several decades have seen an explosive uptick in the number of mass stranding events (MSEs) involving certain types of whales, prompting researche...
FEB 03, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
FEB 03, 2019
The Effort to Sequence the Genomes of 1.5 Million Species
The Earth BioGenome Project aims to sequence and characterize the genomes of all known eukaryotes....
FEB 12, 2019
Earth & The Environment
FEB 12, 2019
Scientist swims Tennessee River and finds unprecedented plastic pollution
One researcher recently undertook an interesting strategy in order to analyze levels of microplastics in the Tennessee River: swimming. Dr. Andreas Fath, a...
Loading Comments...