The Blue Ocean Institute at www.blueocean.org
World Wildlife Fund at worldwildlife.org
Sea Shepherd at www.seashepherd.org
Greenpeace at greenpeace.org
Ocean Conservancy at www.oceanconservancy.org
Friends of the Earth at foei.org
Global Coral Reef Alliance at www.globalcoral.org
…We’re a little more than two weeks into the new year, and King Neptune is already making waves. We’ve had hurricane Alex in the North Atlantic, lashing out at the Azores. We haven’t seen the likes of a January hurricane since 1955. To make matters worse, Tropical storm Pauli formed off Hawaii last week, only the third time this has happened in forty years. Let’s hope we haven’t awakened the wrath of King Neptune. He’s got plenty to be angry about.
…Last week you read about some of the things we need to focus on this year. This week I’d like to direct your attention to a few others. If we continue to make progress, Neptune will have a lot to smile about come December, and who knows? Maybe he’ll go back to sleep. .
… Ocean acidification. Given the size of the sea, this may seem like a pretty remote threat, but the stark truth is, it’s impacting our seas and the creatures in them. When we burn fossil fuels, the carbon dioxide falls not only back to earth but the sea. The oceans can absorb only so much of this crap till it becomes more and more acidic, affecting every single species of life from coral to sharks and whales. The more we reduce our carbon imprint, the healthier the seas will be.
…The slaughter of bottlenose dolphins at Taiji Cove in Japan. Last year over 500 dolphins were driven into the cove where they splashed helplessly in nets trying to reach others in their pod. A 100 were then slaughtered, many driven onto a beach where their spines were cut, supposedly so they’d experience less pain. How’s that for being compassionate!
…The environmental group Sea Shepherd launched Operation Henkaku on September 01 last year. If you want to help stop this barbaric travesty, you can do two things: watch their videos, one of which is a livestream, at www.seashepherd.org; second, you can donate to help bring their efforts to fruition. Mailing address is Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, PO Box 96059, Washington, DC 20090-6059.
…The release of bottlenose dolphins and whales held in captivity across the globe. Performing stupid tricks aren’t the only unnatural acts these helpless creatures are forced to endure. These highly social animals are often inbred to keep the travesty going.
…If you ever swam with a dolphin or applauded at a SeaWorld when it did cute tricks, you’re part of the problem. Perhaps you never considered that these highly social animals crave each other’s company not isolated in a prison of concrete and water. They may not be ordering lattes with their cousins at Starbucks or gathering for services on Sunday, but the presence of these animals in the ocean is just as sacred as what any humans do in church. When will you see the light, brothers and sisters, and work for their release? Continue reading →
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.
Millions of peoples are celebrating Hanukah, Christmas, and other holidays this time of year, the spirit of which is imbued with peace and harmony. The Paris Environmental talks concluded this past week, and the nations that attended did a wonderful thing. They gave a special present to the world. After two weeks, almost two hundred nations finally agreed on a strategy to help put our planet back on a safe environmental track.
It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t always pretty. There was plenty of arguing, sulking, shouting, and finger pointing. But in the end, the nations who attended showed the world that despite differences on how to resolve the crisis eight billion people are facing, they were able to hammer out an agreement that involved a lot of compromise. It’s a lesson politicians in the United States could learn a lot from.
We’re far from living in a world that will soon be pollution free. The damage we have done so far will be felt for decades to come. If not one more pound of carbon dioxide is pumped into the atmosphere, the polar caps will continue to melt and the oceans rise, and many island communities will still be faced with the inevitable truth that they will eventually be displaced.
While it is non-binding, what the nations have agreed to among other things is put a cap on the emissions that affect rising temperatures worldwide. In short, the nations agreed to limit the global average mean temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The original target was two degrees. While that half degree may not sound like much, it has incredible consequences. A two degree rise would mean the obliteration of many island nations from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia to islands across the globe.
The higher target the nations were originally shooting for would have been comparable to putting out a house fire with a few buckets of water. We’re so deep in shit, (and my most sincere and deepest apology to anyone offended by the word, but there is no delicate way to sugarcoat this), everyone at the Paris conference pretty much realized for changes to have any real significance and to better protect island nations, the thermostat would literally have to be lowered.
Of course, there are many facets to this agreement with a lot of details to sort through. To complicate things, the expectations for developed nations are not the same as they are for developing nations. How could they be? It’s hard to be fair and just making all nations pay the same price when it’s the developed nations who for the most part caused the mess we’re in.
Continue reading →
Last week I recounted several of the things we have to be grateful for in the ocean and the maritime environment. While some may consider these accomplishments mere footnotes to be buried in a year of frantic activity, I urge you to regard them as important stepping stones to a better future not just for the ocean and the mariners who sail upon them, but for all of us. Why? Because the future of every soul on this planet depends on a healthy ocean and its fragile ecosystems.
With this in mind, I urge you to visit several of the sites below and learn more about the organizations that champion a better ocean. You don’t even have to join them though that would be better. At least by visiting them, you’ll learn a few things you can do to help make Mother Ocean a healthier and safer place for its children and the eight billion children of this planet.
… Greenpeace at www.greenpeace.org uses peaceful protests and communication to expose environmental problems and promote solutions.
… Coral Reef Alliance at http://coral.org/ promotes the health of coral reefs around the globe.
… Cousteau Society at http://www.cousteau.org/ is all about helping people understand and care for seas and rivers worldwide.
… Marine Conservation Institute at http://www.marine-conservation.org targets key ecosystems around the world and advocates for them.
… Wild Oceans at http://wildoceans.org seeks to curb overfishing and restore depleted fish populations. If you’re a weekend fisherman, you owe them a lot.
… SeaKeepers at http://www.seakeepers.org energizes the yachting community to protect the world’s oceans. Their motto is: “Research, Educate, Protect, and Restore.”
… The Ocean Project at http://theoceanproject.org partners with aquariums, zoos, and museums to promote ocean conservation.
… Waterkeeper Alliance at http://waterkeeper.org helps protect rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways worldwide. Like to swim in clean water? Check them out.
Thanksgiving is almost upon us and not far beyond that Christmas and the end of another year on our Blue Planet. With all the dreadful news that has piled up on the threshold of our doorstep this year, there is some good news about the oceans for which we should indeed be grateful. Let me just cite a few things; they appear in no particular order.
… Incidents in piracy has dropped dramatically off the coast of Somalia. While it’s true, it has increased in other areas of the world such as the coast of West Africa and Malaysia, vigilance and cooperation are key to stunting its growth.
… One of the worst offenders of overfishing was caught earlier this year by the environmental group The Sea Shepherd. This after a 110 day chase on the high seas. When they were finally brought to justice, they were given hefty fines and even heftier jail sentences.
… The Suez Canal opened its second lane in September. The eight billion dollar project, done in just one year, is intended to speed up the trip for thousands of ships a year.
… Populations of fish are continuing to make a come-back according to PEW charitable trusts. Include among these groups the Goliath grouper. No-take reserves help fish come back more quickly. Support these areas whenever you can. We have a long ways to go, but it should buoy our hopes.
… The United States and Cuba after many years of acrimonious feelings have agreed to share scientific data and cooperate in marine conservation. Affected are the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico, the Dry Tortugas, the Dry Tortugas and Biscayne National Parks, and the Guanahacabibes National Park. Sharks have also been targeted for protection. Put simply, without sharks, the rest of the marine ecosystem collapses pretty quickly.
… Both Chile and New Zealand have established marine sanctuaries, making them off limits to fishing. Chile’s is the Desventuradas Islands; New Zealand’s is a 239,000 square mile reserve in the Kermadec region.
…The Paris Climate Talks begin November 30, only a few days from now. Many countries have already prepared goals to reduce their carbon footprint and thus reduce global warming. The rising seas is an incredible threat to millions of peoples living on islands and coasts around the world. If they get displaced by rising seas, the refugee problem we have today will be but an inconvenience compared to what will come.
… The public has awakened to the dangers of micro-beads in thousands of beauty products. These beads are not only a threat to coral reefs and the creatures that feed off them but to larger fish, and eventually to humans who eat those fish. Furthermore, companies are listening to consumers and some have already pledged to phase out their use. Be part of the solution and let companies know you want healthier alternatives.
… Big oil has withdrawn its bid to drill in the Arctic. Because of its lust for huge profits, the prohibitive cost of doing business sent them packing, not a love for the pristine environment. Continue reading →