I’d like to share with you a little story….
It was almost two years ago when I began SCUBA diving. After my Open Water certification I was hooked! I became obsessed with the sport and as that obsession grew, so did my love and appreciation for the environment that so kindly embraced me.
I grew up on a farm, so to speak, and have always been one to care about plants and animals, do my part in recycling and so on, but it wasn’t until I became a diver that I truly began to understand something that I took completely for granted: a world that exists that is hidden from most people’s view. So many people don’t give weight to things that they don’t see: our water, our oceans, and the animals that are in those environments. I didn’t until I experienced it.
Last year I became a volunteer at the aquarium. Everything I learn there continues to make my passion grow. I’ve learned to protect animals that I wouldn’t have ever even worried about – ones that I could actually harm. Did you know that when you’re beach-combing you need to return a rock to it’s original location after your’ve looked under it?
Do you know why that’s important?
If you’re like me, you’d freak out to know that you caused any harm to a helpless animal. If you don’t place that rock back you are most likely causing harm to something, whether it’s the coralline algae that lives on top of the rock or an animal that has a nice, safe hiding place. This is just a small example of what I’ve learned this year.
Last night I attended an event at the aquarium. We watched a documentary called “A Sea Change” (www.aseachange.net). The movie is about a grandfather, a retired history teacher, who is on a quest to understand what is happening to the world’s oceans. During his journey, he is constantly mulling over the world that he is leaving for his grandson and future generations.
The movie talks directly about ocean acidification and it’s affects on our oceans. Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in the pH levels of the Earth’s oceans, caused by their uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The CO2 coming off our land,
goes into the sky and then guess where it goes? The ocean/our waters, which then decreases the pH balance of the water. Because we have lower pH balance in our water, the Earth’s oceans are warming and becoming more acidic. We are seeing the ice bergs melting (regretfully, I didn’t really believe in all that ‘global warming’ stuff until I started to research it) and we are seeing miniscule organisms dying off, like the Pteropods. Bet you’ve never even heard of those. Do you like to eat Salmon? Well, pteropods play a vital role in the lively hood of Salmon. Without the pteropods, there will no longer be salmon and without salmon, what other animals will die off if that main food source is gone? There are too many to mention and I’m sure you get my point that it’s a ripple effect.
For every cause there is an effect. You may ask “Dana, what does this story mean?”. Well my friend, it means that we all need to get educated and then educate those around us. I am not a radical or what I would consider an "activist" but I am a believer that if we don’t start becoming smarter about what we do, we will not have the luxuries that we do now and neither will the future generations to come. Humans are visual creatures and usually the things we do not see, we do not understand. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to SCUBA dive or snorkel, you’ve had the privilege to experience a world that few have seen. When you look at the mountains, forests, deserts and plains and you think they’re beautiful; the topography and the animals under the water are just as beautiful. Imagine no coral reefs, no fish to eat…that is where we are headed with the rise of the acidity in the ocean. This is happening in our lifetime and if not in ours, it definitely will in our children’s.
I stated in the beginning of this that I’ve always been a conscientious person when it comes to animals and our planet, even what I put in my body, but what I took for granted was not knowing what was happening to our oceans and waters around me and how I can change my behavior towards it. You may think as I used to, “I am one person and if I change, how is that going to help anything in the grander scheme of things?”.
Again, it’s a ripple effect. It’s all about educating your self and the people around you. I encourage you all to rent the movie A Sea Change and watch it with your family and friends. I encourage you to take your kids, your friend’s kids, grandchildren etc… out on beach walks that are hosted by the local Aquariums or Environmental groups. I encourage you to research and volunteer with local environmental groups and don’t worry, they’re not going to ask you to hug a tree, maybe just plant one. I encourage you to act differently and responsibly…one step at a time.
Thanks for your ear. If you are interested in learning more, as I have been, here are some links to some additional information.
** For those with kids or grandchildren, there is a moonlight (or rain) tide pool beach walk being hosted by People for Puget Sound this Friday night at Alki from 8pm to 10pm. It’s a low tide and incredibly fun for the whole family! Just visit their website to get the actual address and register www.pugetsound.org and if you can’t make that, the aquarium hosts 2 a year when the tide is extremely low.