Ocean Acidification Creating ‘Super-Sized’ Blue Crabs in the Chesapeake Bay
Buy tickets for Disney’s Oceans, and you’ll see sobering footage of a shopping cart on the ocean floor—a sure sign of consumerism run amok.
This simple image conveys an incredibly important message: We’re destroying our environment. Climate change may garner more headlines, but ocean pollution remains a considerable concern.
What can you do to reduce your impact?
For Your Organic Bookshelf: The Culture of Flushing: A Social and Legal History of SewageRead More:5 Ways to Help Save Our Oceans
Today is World Water Day, and if you live along one of the nation’s coastlines, you’ve probably noticed that you’re not alone when going for a swim.
Ocean pollution is a major problem, and litter is a primary culprit. While laws have been designed to prevent people from dumping their trash into the sea, they haven’t eradicated the problem. Garbage still finds its way into our oceans and threatens marine life.
After last year’s annual Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers in more than 100 countries and 42 U.S. states had removed more than 6.8 million pounds of trash. As Greenpeace notes, only a fraction of the 300 billion pounds of plastic produced globally is recycled, with massive quantities dumped in landfills or oceans.
When exposed to the sun, wind and ocean currents, plastic degrades and is often mistaken for food. Dolphins, sharks, whales and other marine animals die painful suffocation deaths when carelessly discarded plastics become lodged in their throats or digestive systems. Seemingly innocuous pop tabs from aluminum cans and plastic six-pack wrappers are common killers. Simply cutting up your six-pack wrappers before discarding them is one small step toward protecting sea life.
You’re not off the hook if you live in a landlocked state, as litter along streets often ends up in storm drains and rivers, eventually navigating its way into the ocean. Once there, it can survive for decades.
Reducing litter and volunteering for cleanup programs are highly effective ways to safeguard our oceans. Click here to volunteer for a coastal cleanup program.
Free Online Resource: Guide to Marine Debris
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Seasick: Ocean Change and the Extinction of Life on Earth
Photo: Hans Sautter/Aurora Photos, courtesy of Ocean ConservancyRead More:Don’t Trash Our Oceans; It’s World Water Day
In signing the pledge, chefs agree to stop using fish and seafood on the aquarium’s Seafood Watch “Avoid” list.
Let’s support restaurants whose chefs have signed on, including:
For a full list of chefs and foodies who have signed the pledge, click here.
Chefs who are interested in signing on can call (877) 229-9990 (toll-free) or e-mail the aquarium.
Turning the Tide: The State of Seafood, a new report from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, reveals that international efforts to protect the ocean’s ecosystem and our sustainable seafood supply are paying off.
Chalk it up to “a growing consensus on how best to manage fisheries and fish-farming operations, and new commitments by consumers, major buyers and the fishing community,” the report notes.
“Ocean life is still in decline, and we clearly need to take urgent action to turn things around,” says Julie Packard, the aquarium’s executive director. “The good news is that we know what it will take and that key players are working more closely than ever to solve the problems. I’m confident that we can and will create a future with healthy oceans.”
Recent improvements in seafood management include:
Turning the Tide: The State of Seafood includes a Super Green list of wild and farmed seafood choices, prepared collaboratively with the Environmental Defense Fund and the Harvard School of Public Health. The aquarium will update the list every 2 years.
Click here to download a sustainable seafood guide for your area.Read More:Good News About Our Sustainable Seafood Supply
Two half-hour documentaries will debut Wednesday evening on Planet Green: Focus Earth with Bob Woodruff: Troubled Waters (10 p.m. ET/PT) and Acid Test: The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification (10:30 p.m. ET/PT), produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council and narrated by actress Sigourney Weaver.
As the documentaries reveal, our oceans, freshwater rivers, lakes and streams have become increasingly plagued by dead zones, toxic runoff and dying wildlife. Fish populations are in serious decline, and carbon dioxide pollution is making the oceans more acidic.
Woodruff shows how banks and shores in every part of the world are facing similar threats. Among his interviewees is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chief prosecuting attorney for the environmental group Riverkeeper.
Acid Test explains that since the Industrial Revolution, the ocean has absorbed 25% of all carbon dioxide emissions produced by burning fossil fuels, causing a 30% increase in ocean acidity. Sea creatures’ shells dissolve, threatening the ocean’s ecosystem.
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Smithsonian Ocean: Our Water, Our World
Photo: Scott Gries/Getty ImagesRead More:Troubled Waters
A few thoughts about the environment today, which happens to be World Ocean Day. If you plan to spend any hot afternoons at the beach this summer, take a few minutes to reflect on the wondrous oceans that cover two-thirds of our planet. Even if your schedule is crazy-busy, be sure to sign The Ocean Project’s petition to urge the United Nations to officially recognize June 8 as World Ocean Day. More information is available in Tuesday’s blog entry.
“Every year, the ocean just seems a little bit smaller,” says Dr. Kathleen Sullivan Sealey, an associate professor of biology at the University of Miami and principal investigator of the Earthwatch Institute’s Coastal Ecology of the Bahamas project. “There is more trash washed up on the beach with every tide in all shapes, materials and languages. There are fewer fish and conch around for local consumption and greater fears as new information is circulated about health threats in contaminated coastal waters.”
The Earthwatch Institute recruits global volunteers to support scientific field research. You can work alongside leading scientists, conducting research and learning about what it takes to protect a sustainable environment. Earthwatch is now celebrating its 35th anniversary, and more than 4,000 volunteers from all 50 states and 79 countries participated in field research last year. Can you think of a better way for those of us who support organic living to spend some vacation time? Click here to find out about upcoming volunteer projects—from exploring wildlife habitats in Kenya to conducting field experiments in Costa Rica to improve the ecological sustainability of shade-grown coffee.
“We need to act like our actions matter, because they do matter,” says Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, president-elect of the International Sea Turtle Society and a former principal investigator of an Earthwatch sea turtle project in Baja California, Mexico. “We must act like our actions affect others, because they do affect others. We need to evolve our ways as if our life depended on it, because our life does depend on it. To take on the pressing issues facing our ocean planet, we need more creative, innovative and progressive-minded people who understand that it’s one ocean, indivisible, after all.”Read More:Our Endangered Oceans
Thursday is World Ocean Day, an annual event that strives to raise environmental awareness. If you’re dedicated to organic living and have concerns about clean water, compromised fish habitats and global warming, take a moment to sign The Ocean Project’s Petition, which urges the United Nations to officially recognize June 8 as World Ocean Day.
According to the Earthwatch Institute, most of the world’s 17 major ocean fisheries are in decline, coastal habitats are disappearing at an alarming rate, and climate change and pollution are harming coral ecosystems possibly beyond recovery.
“Consider that a single molecule of seawater can and will circulate around the entire world ocean over the course of seven years,” says Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, president-elect of the International Sea Turtle Society and a former principal investigator for an Earthwatch sea turtle project in Mexico. “That means that what we do on one coast does matter to the people living on another coast half a world away. Animals like sea turtles, elephant seals, bluefin tuna and white sharks connect the ocean through their thousand-mile migrations.” (Please check out Dr. Nichols’ compelling essay, One Ocean, Indivisible.)
“The world ocean is in trouble, and if we do not solve some of its myriad problems, our beloved whales and dolphins will continue to spiral into ever greater danger,” adds Dr. Bernd Würsig of Texas A&M, a principal investigator of Earthwatch’s New Zealand Dolphins project. “This is our greatest challenge, from regional over-fishing of salmon in the North Pacific to all-encompassing issues of global warming. Are we, as humans on this fragile Earth, up to the challenges of saving a significant part of this huge ecosystem?”
Click here to find ways to celebrate World Ocean Day. For a list of Earthwatch events around the country, click here (PDF file). And please read Organic Authority’s feature article on which fish are fit to eat.
Photo by Peter Dutton/Earthwatch Institute: A just-hatched leatherback sea turtle heads for the sea. Earthwatch volunteers are needed to monitor sea turtles on the beaches of St. Croix, Trinidad and Costa Rica.Read More:World Ocean Day