Welcome to the World of Mariners,

Pirates, and the Eternal Sea.

King Neptune’s Realm Revisited

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…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?

…Environmentally sensitive ships. Most movers and shakers in the maritime industry recognize the need for ships to continue to develop technology that makes ships much more kind to the environment. The cruise ship industry isn’t going anywhere soon except to more islands and exotic destinations. That’s good. Rather than denigrate the cruise industry, I exhort major cruise lines as well as smaller ones to continue to build ships that are state of the art. Holland America and Celebrity are just two lines that are heading in the right direction. Carnival recycles, incinerates, or offloads all its wastes even when allowed to dump it at sea. For more details check out http://econewsnetwork.org/2010/08/top-five-eco-friendly-cruise-lines/.

…Next time you go to book a cruise, don’t forget me. I prefer a balcony. Just kidding. But I’m not kidding about this next point: Don’t be guided by the price of your cruise alone. Select a cruise line that is making great strides towards an environmentally friendly ship. Bon Voyage!

… This year expect the shipping industry to continue to make a commitment towards cleaner ships. Maersk Line is already on board with its Triple E ships; the triple E stands for economy, environmentally friendly, and energy efficient. And there’s more good news. The shipping industry is changing. Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is now being used on several ships, and ports are accommodating these ships, making it easier and more practical for shipping lines to make the switch from dirtier fuels to LNG.

…Oil spills. It’s been almost six years since Deepwater Horizon’s horrific disaster that brought untold misery and environmental death to many parts of the Gulf. Life there has been irrevocably altered for thousands forever. For thousands more, life is only beginning to assume a trace of normalcy.

…Where will the next Deepwater Horizon occur? It could be argued that the methane gas leak in Porter Ranch, California is the next Deepwater Horizon as it spews close to 62 million cubic feet of methane a day into the air. This is the damage eight or nine coal plants spew into the air. Add to this ships large and small that each week have minor spills. I say minor because no oil spill is truly minor. The clean-up occurs under the Coast Guard’s watchful eye and then it begins all over again. Different day. Different ship. Different circumstances. Same results.

…Vigilance is the key. Vigilance and the unwillingness to accept oil spills as the price for doing business on the high seas. When we become complacent instead of outraged, then we will have lost our fight for the oceans not only for ourselves but for our grandchildren’s children.

…From ocean acidification and the slaughter of dolphins at Taiji Cove to the captivity of dolphins and whales; from environmentally friendly ships to oil spills, we got a lot to think about, or as Jimmy Buffett once said, “a lot to drink about.”

…I propose a toast in this new year of 2016. To Mother Ocean and all her children. To those who work and play on the sea, and those who love her from afar. May your love for the sea know no bounds. Do what you can for her and her creatures, and be sensitive to the imprint your foot has- and make no mistake about it- your foot leaves an imprint upon every wave in the sea. King Neptune watches while the mysterious mermaids of the deep sleep. With vigilant eyes and a compassionate soul, always strive to be a guardian of the sea.

                                                                                            Bill Hegerich

                                                                                            The Uncommon Mariner

 

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