Welcome to the Speak Up For Blue Ocean Conservation 101 page. I’m not sure how you got to this page or to this website for that matter. Normally, people come here because they want to help protect the Ocean. If that is you, then you came to the right place! If not, then why don’t you stay to see how we are affecting the Ocean.
This page is dedicated to raising awareness of the issue facing the Ocean and some of the solutions you can incorporate to your daily routine to help reduce these issues. I would like to raise awareness of as many people as possible so that we can not only reduce these ocean issues, but eventually eliminate them.
Below is a series of videos that describe 5 major Ocean issues that are affecting marine species, habitats, and us (human beings). The good news is that the videos are pretty simple to understand and you don’t need to be a scientist. The bad news is some of these issues are sad that we allowed things to get this far.
There are solutions to each issue; however, it will require us to change our lifestyle. Our current lifestyle is very wasteful. Think about how much we throw out, from food to packaging, we waste quite a bit. Some of the methods to catching (fish) our food and packaging our products can also be wasteful, but we don’t even know about it because we don’t see it.
After watching these videos, you will know what is happening and you have a chance to do something about it. Small changes by many can lead to big progress for the Oceans. Enjoy the videos and your new journey to a healthy ocean and don’t forget to check out our Resources Page to help you find the solutions to ocean issues.
Ocean Issues: The Human Disturbance
All of the major Ocean Issues you area about to watch/read have been caused by humans. It doesn’t matter whether you “believe” in these issues or not. All of these issues are devastating the Oceans, their species, and their habitats. We caused these issues as a species and now we it’s time to step up and fix them.
Climate Change Consequences
Wow, Climate Change has really been an issue that has caused controversy over the past decade and especially, within the last 5 years where this issue has come to the forefront of the news, to the point where there seems to be a news article on climate change every day.
The problem is climate change has many consequences. Many people think Climate Change just raises temperature and often get it confused with “Global Warming.” I’ve heard people say “It’s been such a cold winter, that’s why I don’t think Global Warming is real.” Climate Change is not the process of raising global temperature. Climate change is the change of global weather patterns. This translates to many consequences including increases storm events, Ocean Acidification, Sea Level Rise, and Increase in Sea Surface Temperature, which can be devastating to many different parts of the Ocean and the human species. Check out the videos below to find out more:
The key problem here is the fact that ocean species that require calcium to grow will not be able to survive and you will see a decrease in the population of these species. As the video states, coral reefs create habitat (homes) for 1 in 4 of the known Ocean species. Less coral reefs means less fish, which many of the world’s populations require to eat. So, Ocean Acidification is becoming a big problem. For example, the oyster aquaculture industry is in serious threat due of Ocean Acidification as the oyster shells require calcium.
Sea Level Rise
What does this mean? It means that the sea level is rising my friends and that is a problem for 10% of the population who are already living below the current sea level predictions. For that part of the human population, storm surges can be deadly as water will rush further inland destroying infrastructure along the coast, or worse, kill unsuspecting people. The current and future trends are calling for more melting of the largest glaciers in the world, which can cause global sea level increase by meters. It doesn’t sound like much, but tell that to many small island states that are half a meter above sea level.
Sea level rise can also spell trouble for some of the most sensitive habitats in the Ocean: Coral Reefs. Coral reefs depend on sunlight to help them grow and become a home for many fish and other species. Corals reefs tend to be found in shallow parts of the ocean to maximize the sunlight they can absorb. You don’t find many sunlight-dependent coral reefs in deep water because the sunlight can’t penetrate that deep. So a rise in sea level can increase the water above the corals, which will reduce the amount of light the corals of the reefs receive. This will result in less coral reefs, which means less habitat and less fish and other sea creatures.
Sea Temperature Rising
I’m not sure if you noticed a theme throughout the 3 major consequences of Climate Change, but coral reefs get a really bad rap. Coral reefs are the most diverse habitats in the world, offering many fish and invertebrate (crabs, lobsters, cuttle fish, etc.) a home to eat and be protected from predators.
Coral Reef species are very sensitive to environmental changes. You will understand why once I tell you about how coral reefs survive (don’t worry, I won’t be to scientific!). Corals have tiny organisms that live inside them called zooxanthellae. These organisms feed off of light and their byproducts (their poop!) are used to feed the corals. The zooxanthellae are sensitive to temperature, so when the temperature rises only a couple of degrees, then the zooxanthellae with leave the coral, which leaves the coral without a way to get food. The coral will eventually die if their symbiotic partners don’t come back.
Climate Change has been attributed to excess carbon in the atmosphere and oceans causing the climate to shift and “change” disrupting the natural conditions that we have grown to love. The increase in carbon is due to the increase in the burning of fossil fuels to power and create many human products. The best way we can halt and reverse the Climate Change trend is to decrease the human dependence on fossil fuels, which includes less driving, using less heat/air conditioning at home, using less electricity, using less plastic (needs oil to create), and by local foods (transportation uses quite a bit of oil and gas!).
The change seems daunting and almost impossible, but I suggest that you start small. Set your thermostat a few degrees cooler during the winter and a few degrees warmer during the summer. Walk to the corner store instead of driving, and use less single use plastics in your daily life.
Plastic Pollution in the Ocean
Plastic pollution in the Ocean is more than just an issue, it’s a pandemic! There was a recent article in the New York Times (Sept 2014) titled: “Swimming Through Garbage“, which discussed the journey of one man who wanted to swim in different parts of the Ocean and a life goal; however, he quickly discovered the devastation humans have done including the amount of garbage that is found underwater and/or floating on the surface.
Plastic pollution can be dangerous because animals will eat the plastic, which will cause then to suffocate. Birds, marine mammals, sea turtles, sharks, and other fish ingest plastic pollution because they mistake them as food. A floating plastic bag in the Ocean can easily be mistaken as a jellyfish (a sea turtle’s favourite food!). Sea turtles will choke on the plastic bag and/or die from ingestion problems.
Plastic pollution is also compounded by the fact that the plastic breaks down in the Ocean into tiny particles referred to as microplastics. The microplastics bond with metals that can be toxic to animals and the environment.
There is really only one way to reduce and/or eliminate this Ocean issue. Stop using plastic! You will quickly discover how many products are built or use plastics and will wonder if it is possible to survive without them. You might become overwhelmed and discouraged. My suggestion: start slow. Don’t use plastic bags anymore. Go out and by the reusable bags from your local grocery store. You will make a difference. another suggestion: go out and buy a nice stainless steel reusable water bottle. They are inexpensive and they make sure you avoid using plastic water bottles. You will make a difference. The last suggestion: slowly start to replace your plastic food containers with glass. You will make a difference.
Imagine you are at a swanky restaurant that is known for its fish. so you order a Tuna steak for dinner. It tastes great and you leave satisfied. Well be prepared to remember the way it tasted because you may not be able to taste it again within the next decade. Tuna are endangered and their fishery continue to be mismanaged to make way for profits. The movie “End Of The Line” documented how the Mediterranean Tuna quotas were set one year by the European Union. Scientists set the quota at 15K tonnes to ensure the Tuna population would recover and be sustainable. The European Union upped the quota to 30K tonnes before it met with the fishing lobby to make the lobby happy. After the negotiations with the fishing lobby was complete, the quota was set the 60K tonnes. That’s 4 times the sustainable limit set by experts.
The best way to end overfishing is to stop eating fish all together. However, many of us would like to eat fish every once and a while, so it is important to eat sustainably caught fish and other seafood. The Monterey Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program allows you to do this. The program has apps on iPhone and Android platforms as well as hardcopies. When you go to a restaurant or seafood market, you can pull out your Seafood Watch app or hardcopy and look up which fish is sustainably caught. It might require you to ask some information about how and/or where the seafood was caught. Good restaurants and markets know where the fish were caught, others don’t, which is why you should avoid eating fish at their establishments.