Most people think that there isn’t much you can do about what is happening in the environment. After all, you are just one person. Although you would like to help, what could you possibly do that governments and big companies aren’t doing? There are actions you can take to help the plight of coral reefs. Here are five suggestions.
1. Educate yourself about coral reefs
You can’t do much about the problem of disappearing coral reefs if you don’t know what is going on. Educate yourself about them. Organizations not only serve as an information source, but can direct you in ways you can help (see #3).
2. Take the first step
A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Don’t litter or dump chemicals down the drain. Those things find their way to the oceans, streams and lakes. Coral reef damage includes direct human contact, excessive soil runoff, sewage dumping, illegal fishing practices (such as using cyanide and blasting), and fertilizer runoff.
Make a huge difference by becoming a volunteer with any coral reef organization. Take part in beach clean-ups or spread the word about coral reef degradation.
A powerful step towards helping preserve the coral reefs is to encourage change. For example, if you have heard about a company that is dumping chemicals into the ocean and is affecting coral reefs, you can encourage them to stop. If they refuse, make it a point to stop purchasing their products and services, and encourage others to do the same.
5. Do it now!
There is nothing stopping a good idea whose time has come. The time to take action in saving coral reefs is now. It doesn’t even mean that you have to give a lot of money. What is important is that you start!
Today’s guest post is by Patricia Newman. She is the author of Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (Millbrook Press), winner of the Green Earth Book Award, one of the Bank Street College’s Best Books for 2015, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and finalist for the AAAS/Subaru Science Books & Films Prize for Excellence in Science Books. Her goal is to help kids become ocean stewards.
9 Things You Can Do to Reduce Garbage in Our Oceans
Don’t you love the sound of waves lapping the shore? The salt breeze cooling your face. Treasures that wash ashore with the tides. But what if the tide washed in hundreds of pounds of plastic on your favorite beach?
I wrote Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch because tons of plastic float in our ocean and wash up on our beaches each year—5.25 TRILLION pieces. The book is my way of persuading you to rethink the way you use one-time plastic—things like cups, water bottles, yogurt containers, plastic bags. It’s no longer enough to simply recycle. We have to use less plastic because we’re drowning in the stuff!
The news is bleak, but that’s where you come in. My challenge to you is to choose two of the following action items and pledge to reduce your one-time plastic consumption:
1. Skip the straw. Every day restaurants drop 500,000,000 straws in our drinks—enough to fill 46,400 school buses every year—and virtually none of them are recycled. REFUSE boxed drinks with plastic straws, and REFUSE the straw in every restaurant you visit. In fact, try to get the restaurant to serve straws only on request—or better yet—do away with them all together.
2. Bring your own bags. And not just to the grocery store. Everywhere. Toys R Us. Macy’s. Target. WalMart. Bed, Bath and Beyond. If you forget your bag, simply do without one.
3. Buy eco-friendly school supplies. Lunch boxes without plastic. Pencils made from recycled newspaper. Pens made from recycled water bottles. Recycled paper. You can find them online.
4. Ditch the single-use plastic water bottle. Instead of purchasing large flats of single-use water bottles for parties, school or the office, fill a big urn with water and let people refill their reusable bottles preferably made from stainless steel. If you absolutely need individual servings, consider boxed water.
5. Refuse plastic OJ bottles. Plastic manufacturers are beginning to make PlantBottles. I see them in the orange juice cooler in my grocery store. Yes, they’re an improvement over regular plastic. Yes, they come from sustainable plants. But so far, they are only 30% plant. And it’s unclear if recycling companies will accept them. I still prefer cartons.
6. Refuse plastic to-go boxes. Insist on cardboard boxes or aluminum foil for restaurant left-overs or take-out.
7. Recycle every bit of plastic you can. I recently checked the recycling rules in my hometown and we can recycle a lot of different kinds of plastic. Double-check the rules for your hometown and start filling up that recycling bin!
8. Sign up to participate in the September 19 International Coastal Cleanup.
This is a guest post by Charmaine Coimbra, a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, who writes and edits two marine-focused blogs, Neptune911.com, and Neptune911forkids.blogspot.com. She also writes for local publications. Since 2008 she has volunteered as a docent for Friends of the Elephant Seal in San Simeon, California
Ten Fun Facts About Northern Elephant Seals
1. Elephant seal pups must be born on a beach because they can’t swim or hunt yet.
2. When an elephant seal mother weans her pup from her rich milk, the pup is now called a “weaner.” The weaner will live off of its fatty blubber for several months—until the day it leaves for sea and catches its first food. Elephant seals eat squid, octopus, hagfish (slime eels), rays, skates, small sharks and hake.
3. When weaners leave their birth beach for the sea, they remain alone until they return to the beach in late summer or early fall. All elephant seals stay alone when they leave the beach for the sea. They do not swim in pods, herds or groups.
4. It takes eight years for a male elephant seal to grow to full length, including his elephant-like nose. He may eventually weigh between 3000 to 5000 pounds (1350-2267 kg.), and measure 14 to 16 feet long (2.5 to 3.5 meters).
5. A female elephant seal doesn’t grow a long nose. She is also smaller than the adult male. She will weigh between 900 to 1800 pounds (408 to 816 kg.) and measure between 9 to 12 feet long (2.5 to 3.5 meters).
6. A male elephant seal’s roar is so loud that you can hear it from one mile away.
7. Male elephant seals from different rookeries (beaches where elephant seals go to twice a year) have their own dialect.
8. Adult elephant seals can dive below 5,000 feet (1.524 kilometers) to the bottom of the sea.
9. Elephant seals can stay underwater for almost 2-hours.
10. Elephant seals migrate two times a year. They swim about 12,000 miles a year.
This is a guest post from Ken Muise of snorkelstore.com. Ken is an active duty Soldier stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii. He believes he is best snorkeler in the world, although many disagree with him. His website helps people make good choices on snorkel gear, appreciate and respect the marine environment, and gives tips on keeping safe in the water.
Marine Conservation is Everyone’s Business
The planet Earth is bestowed with a spectacular existence of plant and animal life. The charm and grace of the planet is almost beyond description. The many creatures on land and at sea add to the attraction.
Ecosystem processes are designed to support the planet’s life, which includes the human species. These processes include filtration and pouring of the water basin, pollination, flood moderation and renewal of soil fertility. These natural processes are largely overlooked and not given the value they deserve.
For example, let’s look at the contribution of pollinators to the production of fruits such as blueberries, melons, and apples. According to experts the estimated value of pollination services, which are carried on by insects, is about $ 217 billion each year.
The world has been moving towards rapid industrialization and urbanization. Humans, to satisfy their materialistic desires, began ignoring natural habitats. This has affected the natural habitats of different creatures. Now various species of terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals are on the brink of extinction.
Habitat conservation, both on land and at sea, for wildlife is amongst the most vital issues confronting the environment. As the human population expands, area utilization increases. Wild species have less space to call home.
The surface of the Earth has changed due to human actions, such as severe deforestation, loss of topsoil, and biodiversity extinction. Some species can’t live outside their own living space without human mediation, such as zoos and aquariums. The conservation of their natural surroundings is crucial to their protection. Transitory species are more vulnerable against environment devastation, especially along their migratory routes. Changing a creature’s living space can bring about a domino effect that can undermine an entire ecosystem.
It is important for people to actively participate in repairing the ecosystems that have been widely damaged due to human intervention. Volunteer efforts in conservation projects aim to remedy this loss of biological resources. People are able to take an active part in preventing the extinction of certain species and help maintain ecosystem integrity.
Marine conservation has gained momentum. Aquatic beings are faced with various dangers. Coral reefs are an epicenter of biodiversity. They provide various marine animals with food, protection and shelter. In addition, coral reefs are important to humans as a source of the food (i.e. fish, shellfish, etc.) and for eco-tourism.
Unfortunately due to human impacts on coral reefs, they are increasingly degraded and in need of conservation. The greatest threats include overfishing, destructive fishing practices, sedimentation and pollution from land. Along with increased carbon in the oceans, coral bleaching and diseases, there are few pristine reefs worldwide. In fact, up to 88% of coral reefs in Southeast Asia are now threatened, with 50% of those reefs “high” or “very high” for risk of extinction.
Coral reef degradation is harmful to island nations such as Samoa, Indonesia and the Philippines because many people there depend on coral reef ecosystems to feed their families and earn a living. Many fishermen are unable to catch as many fish as they used to. They use cyanide and dynamite fishing, which further degrades the coral reefs. One solution to stop this cycle is to educate the local community about why conservation of marine areas is important. Once the local communities understand the issues, then they fight to preserve the reefs. Coral reef conservation has many economic, social and environmental benefits, not only for the people who live on these islands, but for people worldwide as well.
Government agencies and other organizations have been working hard to alleviate the problem of coral reef decline. With various laws, acts, and campaigns, they aim to educate people. There are various programs that facilitate marine conservation. Marine conservation can be accomplished if people join hands to achieve this goal.
MarineBio Conservation Society is deeply committed to marine conservation. It is based on the idea that by sharing marine and maritime life, people will be inspired to protect the oceans. I hope people will consider becoming members of the MarineBio Conservation Society. Pollution free oceans will then be enjoyable to all when diving with snorkel gear.
Southeast Asian waters contain the Coral Triangle, an area that comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and East Timor.
The Coral Triangle has the largest amount of marine biodiversity in the world, including around 500 species of coral, according to the WWF foundation.
Scuba diving in the Coral Triangle is world-class. More than 3000 species of fish live there in a range of habitats that support almost 25% of marine life on Earth.
This is a list of 5 fantastic places to scuba dive in Southeast Asia:
1. Raja Ampat, Indonesia
“Raja Ampat” means “Four Kings” in Indonesian, and refers to the four islands that surround the reef and surrounding ocean.
Raja Ampat is number one on this list because it has the some of the world’s healthiest reefs. You can see a high density of hard and soft coral all around the four islands. Marine surveys by Conservation International has shown that the marine diversity here is the highest recorded in Southeast Asia.
Raja Ampat, located in a strategic position between the Indian and the Pacific oceans, is remote and undisturbed by human interaction. It is a top priority region for conservation due to its function as a fish larval dispersal area.
2. Sipadan, Malaysia
Sipadan Island is the place to see large pelagic fish such as barracuda, jackfish, and groupers. The island sits on the remnants of an extinct underwater volcano. The nutrients from the ashes of the volcanic eruption has given life to a large coral reef which covers the underwater wall next to the island.
More than 3000 species of marine life have been classified in Sipadan. Unfortunately, Sipadan has been affected by coral bleaching in the past, and the remnants of this damage remains.
Recent conservation efforts by the Malaysian Government has stopped development of resorts on the island.
3. Republic of Palau
The coral reefs in the tiny nation of Republic of Palau are unique. They are located in an area where 3 major currents in southeast Asia meet. The dive sites here are home to more than one thousand identified species of fish, and over five hundred species of coral and anemone. Because of the high current, scuba diving here can be rough, but the visibility can extend 20-30 meters.
Palau is also the home of Jellyfish Lake, a marine lagoon connected to the ocean through an underwater reef system. The jellyfish in the lake have been isolated for 12,000 years, and have evolved to lose their stingers. Only snorkeling is allowed in the Jellyfish Lake. The bubbles from the oxygen tanks of scuba divers harm the jellyfish.
4. Similan Islands, Thailand
The Similan Islands Marine National Park, located west of Thailand, are made of granite boulders formed by the eruption of an ancient volcano around 65 million years ago. The sea slopes down, dropping around 70 meters, and are covered by coral. The scuba diving hilight here is the cavernous underwater topography. The currents at the Similans can be strong.
The Similans also have a turtle hatching program, as several marine turtle species lay eggs on the islands. Several Thai marine biologists have blamed excessive tourist activity for the damage to coral reefs around the popular Tachai island. As a result, a few islands are now closed to the public.
5. Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India
Located in the ocean between India and Myanmar, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are in a remote location far from human activity. The Andaman Islands are a chain of over 500 mostly uninhabited islands and are an extension of the mountain range of Myanmar.
Due to the isolation of Andaman and Nicobar islands, the marine and terrestrial life have evolved over thousands of years in a unique way. Ten percent or more of the life here is endemic.
Thus, the scuba diving here is pristine and untouched. Some of the dive sites here have a clear visibility of up to 30 meters. Andaman offers hard black coral that are rare in other Southeast Asian waters.
Biography: Jane Cui is the owner of Down Under Scuba. Follow her on twitter @janecui11 for information on scuba diving in Southeast Asia.