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Posts tagged ‘Oceans Day’

How to Love the Ocean – Daily Actions for Future Generations

Here’s a whole lot of information, and entertainment, about ocean education.

First, it’s the video of my presentation “Ocean Wonders” provided on Oceans Day 2020.


The text below is supporting material to motivate and enable Ocean Education, especially for children.

It includes:
Ocean Inspiration (why it is so important to teach about the ocean)
Action for the Ocean (detail on the many ways we can reduce impacts); and
Guidelines for Beach Walks.

For my “Find the Fish” challenges, also provided for Oceans Day, please click here. 


Now, to further get in the mood, please view my brief slideshow below (and forgive the “breathe” typo).

 

Ocean Inspiration

Why is it so important to educate and help others love the ocean?

Chances are that if you have the interest and motivation to read this, you already have that knowledge. May the following then provide you with affirmed purpose and inspiration.

The ocean is the life-sustaining force on the planet. It is where life began. The ocean’s algae produce at least 50% of the world’s oxygen, buffering carbon dioxide in the process. As water cycles around, over 90% at any time is ocean. The ocean is the largest surface on earth, whereby it has a significant impact on climate regulation. The ocean is also a source of food, energy, inspiration, transportation, and healing.

 

Human psychology so often puts a divide between land and sea. There is not enough understanding that life on land cannot survive without the ocean, no matter how far you are from her shores. As a result of this perceived divide, assaults upon the ocean include persistent organic pollutants, agricultural runoff, warming and ocean acidification, disease organisms, and plastics and further marine debris. Consequently, the ocean so often testifies to socio-environmental problems first.

This “ocean blindness” is especially true of the perception of dark oceans where the rich plankton soup means we cannot see the marine life easily. Thereby, many of us form biases to thinking there is more life in warmer waters with less plankton. This is exactly backwards. Less plankton means there is less food at the bottom of the food web. Thereby, if you can easily see through water, there is less life in it.

This bias and blindness is exacerbated because, so often, the imagery we are fed in everything from documentaries, to children’s books and movies, is of life in warmer seas. If we do not know how extraordinary our marine neighbours are, and how important the ocean is, how can we be the teachers, parents and voters we need to be?

By helping others love the ocean, you are not only helping marine life, you are helping the future of our own species as well.

Power to you.

 


Ocean Action 

First there’s a summary. Then, there’s depth.

SUMMARY
1. Learn about the ocean. Enjoy the ocean.
It is especially important to learn about species that live closest. No matter how far away the ocean is, we are connected to the life there through the cycling of water.

2. Care, knowing how important the ocean is to life on land and how amazing our marine neighbours are. We need to be especially careful because we still know so little about life in the ocean which means we could make big mistakes.

3. Use less because it helps so many. By making sure there is less garbage (includes less disposables and less consumerism) and less bad chemicals, there is less pollution in the ocean AND on land. By saving energy and helping use less oil and gas (fossil fuels), there is less change in temperature and climate. By using less water, less chemicals are added to it at the sewage treatment plant.

4. Teach and share
with others about the importance of the Ocean and how easy it is to do good things that help the ocean AND ourselves.

 

MORE DEPTH

1. No Problems Without Solutions
Yes, it is important for students to know of environmental problems. But, there is the potential of creating overwhelm, fear / paralysis, disconnect and the perception that nature and/or the ocean is sick. It is vital to ensure that solutions are provided; that those doing the teaching are modelling those solutions; and that the common denominators between socio-environmental problems are made clear i.e. most problems have the same causes whereby there are the same solutions. Examples are the connection between Sea Star Wasting Disease in Sunflower Stars and warming seas; over-harvesting being related to inequality in the world and the lack of precaution in favour of short-term economic gain; and plastic pollution being the result of consumerism, overuse of disposables, and disconnect with the environment.

 

2. Connect / Learn / Respect
No matter how far you are from the ocean, you can connect to the ocean. I emphasize again the value of prioritizing learning about the most local ocean (and species) so that the biases and blindness I referenced above are not exacerbated. For example, turtles are amazing and engaging but what is most valuable for Canadians is connecting to the Leatherback Turtles that belong off both Canada’s east and west coasts.

Understanding of the water cycle is such an effective way to connect to the ocean from any distance i.e. the ocean is on top of mountains as snow, it flows through rivers and groundwater, and it comes out of the tap. Therefore it is impacted by what we do to water even when far away from the ocean. Including sewage treatment in the water cycle is of great value.

I find it helps to reference local marine life as “neighbours” as this suggests that we live together and are connected. Beach walks, if possible, certainly aid this if conducted as a study and with respect. Please see my  guidelines for good beach walk practices below.

It is so valuable too to teach from a perspective of adaptations, allowing students to deduce why species look the way they do, live where they do, and/or behave as they do. This allows for the understanding that nature is not “random” but that organisms are connected, evolved, and have fulfilled niches to fit into the puzzle of life.

Please, do not limit learning to the species at the surface i.e. the charismatic marine megafauna like whales. To understand why there are these big animals, requires an understanding and valuing of the biodiversity and interconnectedness below the surface.

Please too do not encumber yourself with feeling you need to know a lot about marine species in order to aid love and action for the ocean. By not knowing, you give even more space for students to form connections and hypotheses about adaptations, and to own their knowledge. One of the most vital things in loving and learning about the ocean, is to emphasize how little is known about life in the ocean and, therefore, that it is essential to have the appropriate humility and precaution in how we “manage” the ocean.

 

3. Reduce
This is the single most important solution to reducing socio-environmental problems, including impacts to the ocean.

So many students believe that recycling is the best thing they can do (and our consumer paradigm of course favours this). It shows, in part, that understanding has been lost that the three “Rs” are a hierarchy. By far the most important is to REDUCE. Next is to re-use. And if reducing and reusing are not  possible, then  . . . recycle.

Reduce what?

It is very important to approach this from the perspective that reducing is not about loss, but about gain and that the following are also the solutions for so many other problems.

Reduce the use of harmful chemicals that can flow or condense into the ocean. Which chemicals are bad? The easiest with younger students it to show the skull and crossbones on the label of products like bleach. Older students have curriculum content about pesticides and other persistent organic pollutants. It is valuable of course to discuss how the human-made bad chemicals are not essential and/or that there are alternatives that are not harmful.

Reduce fossil fuel use because of the impacts on climate change. The ideal is to enable students to think in terms of carbon footprint and, thereby, to know how many ways we are empowered to reduce fossil fuel use in our every day actions and how smart and innovative we become when we care more.

Never too young to learn about animals as individuals.

Reduce waste. This goes far beyond beach clean-ups. Understanding is needed of why there is so much garbage and how easily this can be solved when we learn and care. This includes using durable and reusable things, not buying so much, being aware of how much packaging things have and, here’s the BIGGY, to understand the difference between biodegradable and non-biodegradable. If something cannot rot away there is no “away”.  It cannot be  flushed “away” or thrown “away”. Non-biodegradable chemicals enter the water and food webs. Plastics that cannot rot will entangle, or get mistakenly eaten by animals, and/or break down into smaller pieces that enter the food web.

 

4. Empower

Sharing good news stories, especially of innovative and ethical thinking and technologies that create positive change, allows students to know about human social evolution, that we learn from our mistakes, and make huge steps forward when empowered with knowledge and caring. It will help make them feel there is space in the world for their ideas and that every generation learns from the ones before. It is tricky though to ensure that hope and human ingenuity are not perceived as exit strategies.

Empowerment too means providing students with the opportunity to participate in decision-making and respectful dialogue about practices and decisions made at home and at school. It will involve discussions about ethics and how we cannot be perfect. We have to use resources and make some garbage but can make decisions that reduce impacts. It invites critical thinking. It can lead to learning about who and what we support with our money and effort is like voting, and the importance of that.

Again, power to you. 💙

Below is my presentation on Ocean Wonders.

 

 


Black Prickleback father guarding eggs. Were he to be moved by those who think he does not have enough water, the eggs would be eaten by predators.

 


Good Beach Walk Practices Include: 

No Taking and No Touching (with exceptions)

There are exceptions when you know for sure a species is hearty or truly in trouble. Hearty species like sea stars can gently be touched with one’s pinky. By using your little finger, you can’t apply much pressure and this very act instills greater understanding and respect in children for the life they are visiting and learning from. It is also the case, that what is one our hands, may not benefit other animals. I am sure there is heightened awareness of transmission of pathogens in  our current COVID world

Collecting animals does not model respect (e.g. Shore Crabs). Even taking shells does not allow for the understanding that there are animals that will use these (e.g. hermit crab species) and that, as the shell breaks down, nutrients are returning to the Ocean. There are exceptions here too where a few “treasures” (non living) can be taken for further study.

Moving animals, even with the best of intentions, can lead to unintended consequences like displacing fish fathers from the eggs they were guarding. There are fish species that are very well-adapted to surviving with little water at low tide.

Another exception is, of course, that you DO want to remove garbage that you are sure IS garbage and that has not become habitat (has life living on it).

 

Another  fabulous example of where the well-intentioned are not helping. These are not garbage. They are moonsnail egg collars. They are wondrous constructions to house and protect moonsnail embryos. There’s more information about them at the end of this blog.

Rock Rules
Only lift rocks that you do not need to pivot and that you can put back very carefully. If you pivot big rocks, animals will rush to hide at the leverage point and will be crushed when you lower the rock.

A good rule is to only lift rocks smaller than your head, and that clearly have space under them (this means there are likely to be animals there and that you can better return the rock to its position). I have found it really helps to explain to children why life under a rock lives there and not on top of a rock (i.e. teaching about habitat). Children seem to understand well that lifting a rock is like lifting the roof off a human’s house.

 

Walk Carefully
This is not only for human safety but seaweed and Eelgrass are habitat to so many animals.
Barnacles too are living animals.

 

No Squealing and No YUCK!
This is negative and can perpetuate a physical reaction of disconnect and disrespect for the natural world. It is “rejection” and judgement of another organism being “wrong” rather than understanding the perfection of adaptations and evolution. Beach walks are about visiting organisms in their habitat and the gift of being able to learn that everything is the way it is for a reason. I find it helps to let children know, when about to lift a rock, that we are disrupting animals in their home so that we can learn and that, of course, the animals are going to be startled i.e. so they anticipate the potential of things like fish flopping about.


YES to pictures, learning and contributing to knowledge. 💙

 


Below, an exception to the rule. This Gumboot Chiton was upside down and could not have righted itself. They are tough organisms and provided a wonderful opportunity for students to feel how this is a living animal that responded to their gentle touch.


More about Moonsnail Egg Collars
Yes, I really have to do a blog on moonsnails but for now:

The female moonsnail forms one layer of the egg collar by gluing together sand grains with mucus; then the fertilized eggs are laid on this layer and THEN she seals them in with another layer of sand and mucus! The female forms the collar under the sand and then forces it above the sand when done. The 1000s of eggs develop in the the sand-mucus matrix. The process of making the egg collar takes 10 to 14 hours (and reportedly starts at the beginning of a flood tide). As long as conditions are good, the egg collars found on beaches are likely to have embryos developing inside them (if they are still rubbery and moist).

When the egg collar is intact like those in the photo above, the young have NOT hatched out. The collar disintegrates when the larvae hatch. The larvae are plankton for 4 to 5 weeks and then settle to the ocean bottom to develop further.

There is contradictory information on how long it takes the eggs to hatch (one reliable source relays about 1 week while another reports up to 1.5 months).

The moonsnail species in the photo above is a Lewis’ Moonsnail whose shell can be up to 14 cm wide (referenced too as the Northern Moonsnail).


Related posts: 

Find the Fish for Oceans Day 2020 (student activity)
More of my blog items on Ocean Inspiration and the importance of the Ocean.

Mother Ocean

A short Oceans Day Reflection for you dear The Marine Detective Community.

Happy, healthy Oceans Day. 

Click to enlarge and feel very free to share.

Click to enlarge and feel very free to share.

For You For Oceans Day – for you love her as I do.

Dear “The Marine Detective” Community,

An Oceans Day reflection for you. 

If you can’t read the text, please click the image to enlarge.

May we continue to work together to raise awareness about the great beauty and importance of our Ocean. For life on land cannot survive without the Ocean. The Ocean is the “circulatory, respiratory, and reproductive organs of our planet” (from “The Fate of the Ocean” by Julia Whitty).

More than 70% of the oxygen in our atmosphere comes from it. The Ocean feeds us and regulates our climate by buffering the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and absorbing 85% of the Earth’s heat.

We depend on her for transportation, food, water, disposal, recreation, energy, oxygen, climate regulation and … inspiration.

Happy, healthy Oceans Day to you. 

Oceans Day – The Wisdom of James Cameron

June 8th is World Oceans Day (originating from the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit and recognized by the United Nations since 2008). 

Mature male fish eating( (“resident”) killer whale – “Skeena” (A13; born 1978; missing 2010).
Photo – Hildering.

In reflecting on what I can best share with you to honour Oceans Day and make clear the human dependence and impact on the oceans, I have decided that no one has made these points more solidly and eloquently than fellow Canadian, James Cameron. He is a lifelong activist for marine conservation who, among many other achievements,  is the award-winning director of “Titanic” and  “Avatar”. 

Below, please read, and heed, the text from his 1998 acceptance speech for the SeaKeeper Award.  

The message is more important and urgent –  than ever.  

View towards Alert Bay, Northern Vancouver Island. Photo – Hildering

James Camerson:
“Every
living soul on earth, no matter how far inland they live or how much they may hate eating fish, is utterly dependent on the divine saltwater soup of the ocean. The ocean is the engine that drives our weather and moderates our climate. The phytoplankton in the seas create the majority of the oxygen we breathe. These microscopic plants also form the bottom of a vast food chain from which we harvest a large portion of our food.

As our population increases, and arable land remains finite, we will look to the oceans more and more for our survival. Thus, our destiny as a species is interlocked with the destiny of the sea. If the seas become sick, we become sick. If they die, we die. Subconsciously we think the sea will always be there for us. 

Sunset Port McNeill. Photo – Hildering.

Right now, all over the world, coral reefs are threatened, and 40-mile-long drift nets cut huge, sterile swaths through the open ocean. Biologists estimate that over one hundred million undiscovered species remain to be identified in the oceans. We will kill half of these before, we have even had a chance to give them names.

Life began in the sea over three billion years ago. Our first upright walking ancestors appeared a mere four million years ago, and human civilization is less than ten thousand years old. If the natural history of life on earth could be viewed as a single Great Year, all of human recorded history inhabits the last couple of seconds of the last minute before midnight at the end of that year. And yet, in those last seconds, that eyeblink, we have multiplied exponentially, and our impact on the natural world has increased logarithmically.

It took the entire history of humankind to produce a global population of a billion people by the year 1800. By 1930, in just over a century, it had doubled to two billion. In another fifty years, it had doubled again to four. Now, at close to 6 billion, we are likely to double again in less than thirty years. picture it, 12 billion human souls, human mouths, crying out for food, struggling to survive, competing for resources, choking in a poisoned and depleted world, and all within the lifetime of our children.

Sunset off the coast of Northern Vancouver Island. Photo – Hildering.

We are alive now, and doing those works for which we will be remembered, at the most critical instant in the history of the Earth. Millions of years of natural evolution are focusing down to a few decades during which the game will be won or lost. And like it or not, we are the players in that game.

This is both a great honor, and a terrifying responsibility- As leaders, as decision-makers, as influencer’s of public opinion, we must do our best to preserve and restore the oceans. Humankind has, unwittingly, assumed the role of executioner of our own planet’s life force. But we can also be saviors, if we choose, and if we are willing to make the sacrifices necessary . . .

Sunrise Port McNeill – looking toward Haddington Island and Sointula. Photo – Hildering.

There is no one here who would not do the very best for their children – the best schools, the best food, the best doctors. Think of the ocean as the ultimate trust fund for your children, a living and life-giving fund.  A healthy ocean is the best gift you can give them . . . l ask everyone. . . to assume a leadership role in guarding and restoring the oceans in all ways, and as a life philosophy.”

Please see my 2020 blog “How to Love the Ocean – Daily Actions for Future Generations”