I wish ocean conservation wasn’t a topic, but I know all too well just how dirty our waterways are. When I set out to sail the seas, I envisioned beautiful blue waters, healthy wildlife, and the essence of nature. Thankfully, I did find natural beauty, but I also discovered trash everywhere.
While in Italy we had to wait for the current to take small and large pieces of debris out of the harbor to swim. Some European beaches are so dirty there’s not a patch of clean sand. In Trinidad, I could have walked from the boat to land stepping on all the trash in the water. Appallingly, the Pacific has a swirling vortex of plastic called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It covers an estimated surface area of 1.6 million square kilometers, an area twice the size of Texas or three times the size of France.
We’ve worked to rescue turtles, birds, and other wildlife caught in abandoned nets and plastic bags. Likewise, in the Ionian Sea, we caught a 6′ shark. It was a 6′ plastic shark-looking raft. I wish I could say that it was the first one we found. When we see something floating, we do our best to pick it up. It’s not always an easy task when we’re sailing, but it’s the least we can do. That being said, what else, as sailors, can we do to promote ocean conservation?
This week is World Oceans Day
World Oceans Day was established in 1992 during the Earth Summit, a conference focusing on environmental issues. Canada proposed the idea of a day to celebrate and raise awareness about the importance of oceans. Fortunately, he proposal gained support, and June 8th was designated as World Oceans Day. The Ocean Project, a global network promoting ocean conservation, started coordinating events for the day in 2002.
In 2008, the United Nations officially recognized World Oceans Day, urging governments and organizations to observe the day and take action to protect marine resources. Since then, World Oceans Day has become a global movement with events and activities aimed at raising awareness and promoting ocean conservation.
What can sailors do to promote ocean conservation?
World Oceans Day is a poignant occasion to raise awareness about the significance of our oceans and promote their conservation. If you’re a sailor looking to celebrate World Oceans Day, here are some suggestions for activities you can engage in:
1. Organize a beach cleanup
Gather your partner, family, buddy boats, or fellow sailors to clean up a nearby beach or shoreline. This activity helps remove and prevent marine debris from entering the ocean, protecting marine life and ecosystems.
And whenever you visit the beach for sundowners or a beach BBQ, aim to leave the area cleaner than you found it. When my family and I went for walks, we always carried a few bags with us for trash pick-up.
2. Conduct a marine life survey
While living the sailing cruiser life, consider conducting marine life surveys on your travels. This will enable you to observe and record the various species you encounter, noting their behaviors and locations. This data can contribute to ongoing research and conservation efforts.
Check out Sailors for the Sea Powered by Oceana. This is the world’s leading ocean conservation organization that engages, educates, and activates the sailing and boating community toward restoring ocean health. Visit the website here: https://oceana.org/sailors-for-the-sea/
3. Educate yourself and others
Share your knowledge and passion for the ocean by giving presentations or hosting workshops on board or in local schools and community centers. Teach people about marine conservation, the importance of sustainable fishing practices, and the impact of pollution on our oceans.
If you don’t have the education yet, consider taking an online marine science course. In Google, search for ocean conservation lesson plans or homeschooling courses. We were priveldged to have a buddy boat with us with a marine biologist on board. She offered to take a handful of children to the mangroves where we all learned about the habitat and what we can do to ensure it survives.
Out of all the things we learned in our travels, this was one of our daughters most favorite. Nothing beats talking about something and then being able to experience it. After the lesson all the children jumped in the water and observed the mangroes spouting out what they learned. It was brilliant!
4. Promote responsible boating
Use World Oceans Day to remind fellow sailors about responsible boating practices. Encourage using environmentally friendly products, proper waste disposal, and adherence to boating regulations to minimize the negative impact on marine ecosystems.
Perhaps during a morning VHF Radio net, announce that it’s World Oceans Day and ask the cruising community to do one thing today that promotes the health of our oceans. Or, if you find an environmentally friendly product at a chandlery pass the information on to other boaters.
5. Support marine conservation organizations
Research and donate to organizations dedicated to protecting the oceans. Many organizations work tirelessly to preserve marine habitats, research, and promote sustainable practices. Your support can make a difference.
Organizations like Ocean Conservancy will match your donation on World Ocean Day (up to $25,000). To check them out, visit: https://oceanconservancy.org
6. Share your experiences
Use social media or your blog to share stories, photos, or videos from your sailing adventures. Highlight the beauty of the ocean and the importance of its conservation. Inspire others to appreciate and protect our marine ecosystems.
Whenever we do a beach clean-up, rescue a plastic raft from the ocean, or teach about ocean conservation, I post pictures and include them in our sailing channel videos. I want to inspire other sailors to do the same.
7. Explore marine protected areas
Take the opportunity to visit marine protected areas or wildlife reserves in your sailing region. These areas often provide a haven for marine life and are excellent places to observe and appreciate the ocean’s biodiversity.
8. Lead by example
Sailors already contribute to reducing carbon emissions by adopting sustainable practices. They use renewable energy sources on board, minimize fuel consumption, and follow eco-friendly navigation practices. By reducing our carbon footprint, we help mitigate the effects of humans on our oceans.
This is a fantastic start. Let’s lead by example and share our examples. Explain how your renewable energy sources benefit you…and the world!
Remember, World Oceans Day is a reminder to appreciate and protect our oceans, not just on a single day but throughout the year. By taking action to preserve marine ecosystems, sailors can play a vital role in ensuring the health and sustainability of our oceans for future generations.
Any Other Suggestions for Ocean Conservation?
What have you done in the past to support ocean conservation? Share with us and leave your comments below.
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