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  • Foto del escritorAdri Olaya

Earth Day 2024: The oceans, their diversity, and their plastic pollution.






Exactly two years ago, I was celebrating Earth Day in my favorite way: in nature admiring the wildlife and its magic interactions and wisdom. I was scuba diving in one of the largest reef ecosystems on earth. I saw many species, including fish, corals, mammals, and turtles. We dived inside a cave for 16 min and to finish the day we were surprised by a pack of playful dolphins swimming around us. It was a great reminder that oceans and marine life are delicately balanced ecosystems and their healthy function is key to the balance of all life on Earth. Many people see marine life as something altogether separate from life on land but the two are far more connected than we might think. The oceans provide 50% of the world’s oxygen, absorb 30-50% of the CO2 produced by the burning of fossil fuel and they provide essential ecosystem services that allow our planet to function healthily. They can only do all that by maintaining their delicate balance, made up of food chains and biological systems.

 

Unfortunately, during our dive, we, and all the exuberant diversity and marine life, were not the only ones present. Plastic waste was everywhere, lying on the ocean floor, floating, entangled on the corals, and even worse, being eaten by fish, turtles, and the rest of marine creatures. We are facing a massive plastic crisis. Human activity is impacting heavily the oceans and their essential ecosystems that at the end of the day we rely on to survive.

The theme of this year’s Earth Day is plastic pollution, and I want to leverage Earth Day to create awareness of the urgency to preserve marine life, including reducing ocean plastic pollution. Put simply, we can reduce our impact on marine life in a few ways:

1. Go vegan: Stopping the consumption of marine animals is the single biggest way to help the oceans. Not only it would stop overfishing and bycatch, returning fish populations to healthy levels, but it would also reduce the amount of plastic from fishing gear that leaks into the ocean. It is estimated that 5.7% of fishing nets, 8.6% of traps and pots, and 29% of fishing lines used globally are lost, abandoned, or otherwise discarded into the environment. All this ghost gear and other fisheries-related operations make up at least 10% of total ocean plastics.

There is no such “sustainable fishing”, so stop trying to clean your conscience, and rather stop or reduce consumption (watch Seaspiracy to learn more).2. Reduce consumption of all unnecessary products and single-use packaging that require long boat transportation or could end up in the oceans.3. Use beauty and cosmetic products that do not contain chemicals that harm marine life and corals, especially sun cream and tanning oils before going into the water. Always check labels before buying sun skincare products.

4. When doing water sports and activities, be mindful and respectful of marine ecosystems. They are fragile and take a long time to regenerate. Do not touch. Do not interrupt natural cycles. Do not damage corals. Do not take pieces or shells as souvenirs. Do not participate in any kind of animal show (dolphin shows, swimming with rays, feeding sharks, taking sea stars in your hands to take pictures, etc).

5. AND OF COURSE… DO NOT MAKE YATCH PARTIES PARKED IN NATURAL ECOSYSTEMS. Anchoring, high noise levels, and human activity and waste disturb and affect greatly the marine life and their ecosystems.

We should protect marine life not only for the benefits it can have in human life but for its own sake. The lives of marine animals are as important to them as ours are to us. They are here on Earth with us, not for us. #govegan #marinelife #earthday





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