Ollie the Octopus on Ocean Acidification

Ollie the Octopus (photo by Cherilyn Jose)

Hello, my name is Ollie, and I’m an Octopus.  Welcome to my blog entry, told from the point-of-view of an octopus.  I am ecstatic to have found myself a human translator (or is she an octopus translator??) named Cherilyn.  I chose a blog to get my thoughts and feelings across as I will only live to be 2-3 years old at most and it is very urgent that I share the many changes happening to my watery world now!

My human translator recently told me about a documentary she watched, “A Sea Change,” which is about ocean acidification due to global warming.  All I could think was eek, my beak (mouth) and radula (teeth) will start to dissolve soon and they don’t make dentures for octopuses!  Also within a few octopus generations (and definitely within your human lifetime), my coral reef may be dead.  Yes, the corals that pre-date humans by thousands of years will be gone in a blink of geologic time.  Sure the earth and her oceans over millions of years can deal with the rise of temperatures in both the atmosphere and ocean, but ocean acidification may be the straw that broke the camel shrimp’s back. 

All the little animals and plants that build up the massive coral reefs (which are visible from outer space!) will be gone if the saltwater they live in becomes more acidic and dissolves their calcium carbonate skeletons.  My favorite foods, crabs and shrimps, will be gone if they can no longer make their exoskeletons.  No longer will my worst nightmares consist of the “baby octopus bowls” served at Japanese restaurants.  No, it will be that I have no food to eat, and to boot, no place to live!

One in four ocean creatures lives on a coral reef and I believe there isn’t a more beautiful and productive place on earth.  In fact my human translator called coral reefs “heaven in the ocean” after a SCUBA dive in the South Pacific.  From what I’ve heard, due to industrialization, humans have caused massive destruction to the beautiful land all across the earth by exploiting her once plentiful resources.  I’m not looking forward to what humans can do to the oceans, nor can I ignore what they already have done.  No part of the once thought of massive, untouchable and exotic oceans are left unscathed by the reaches of man.  There is no pristine anything anymore—from pollution caused by runoff from the land, to carbon dioxide and other chemicals spewed into the air that eventually make their way into the oceans (oceans cover more than 70% of the so called “earth”), to the overfishing of large predatory fish.  But increasingly (and supposedly) efficient methods of fishing are wiping out entire schools of both small and large fish in a blink of an eye and leaving nothing but millions of fish scales to sink to the bottom of the ocean forever.  Don’t get me started about the coral bleaching due to global warming, as seeing dead patches of coral really makes me want to really ink someone! 

I’m glad I only live a few years at most.  If I successfully reproduce, I hope my offspring will have a healthy coral reef to live on, and food to eat.  I hope for your human offspring’s sake they don’t ask someday, “why are there no more coral reefs in the ocean? Or more importantly, “why didn’t you do anything to stop the destruction of the coral reefs?” 

Fortunately there is still time, and there is still hope.  Although only 1% of all the money donated to conservation causes is ocean related, you can make a difference one cent and one dollar at a time.  It costs nothing to sign on-line petitions, e-mail your local Senators or Representatives or to just to stay informed (follow my human interpreter on twitter @protectoceans or visit protecttheoceans.org.  Tell just one person what you’ve learned today and hopefully someday your grandchildren, after peeking underwater at a coral reef for the first time, or seeing a whale surface and spout in the ocean, will thank you for helping to protect the oceans and its inhabitants from destruction by mankind.

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