World Oceans Day 2019

“…I love it! The sea is everything. It covers seven-tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides. The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence. It is nothing but love and emotion; it has the ‘Living Infinite,’ as one of your poets has said.”

Captain Nemo, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

That is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite novels (if not from any book), uttered by my favorite fictional character – the enigmatic, nature-loving, marine-dwelling rogue Captain Nemo. I can think of no better literary spokesperson for World Oceans Day: an official global celebration, occurring annually on June 8, of our planet’s most crucial and special feature – the ocean.

The idea for such a yearly awareness day was first suggested by Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro in 1992 and its impact has grown massively since The Ocean Project began to promote the holiday in 2002. Visit the official World Oceans Day website to learn more about its history, ways to support the organization, to organize or find an event, or to buy certified organic and recycled clothes that show your love for the sea.

The Wave by Albert Bierstadt

Another great organization to support or to at least follow is 4ocean, founded in 2017 in Boca Raton FL. Their mission is to actively clean coastlines and clear garbage from our oceans “one pound at a time”, and so far they have removed over 4.5 million pounds through the sales of their unique bracelets. Every month there is a different themed bracelet made from recycled glass and plastic bottles, and each purchase results in one pound of trash and plastic being pulled from the ocean. This month’s bracelet raises awareness about the magnificent, oldest turtles in the world – the leatherback sea turtle. Read their blogpost “Ancient creatures. Modern problems.”

Note: There are numerous claims and complaints that 4ocean is a “scam”, to some degree or another. I am of the opinion that they are not, even if the amount of money they make as a private, explicitly-stated for profit company heavily outweighs the amount of real ocean cleaning they do. Read their website, their BBB ratings and reviews from employees/volunteers and form your own conclusion. If nothing else, still read their blog which shares very real and important information and find inspiration to contribute to clean-ups yourself, if you think buying their recycled bracelets isn’t enough. It very well might not be.

It is no secret that our oceans – and therefore we – are facing a serious pollution crisis. Unfortunately it is also no secret that this crisis is being ignored by the vast majority of the world’s population. That pollution comes mostly in the form of plastic: a hideous and surprisingly lethal synthetic material that will never biodegrade, that is clogging beaches and estuaries and other important habitats all over the planet and directly resulting in the deaths of countless marine creatures. It is the hand of man, not nature, that pushes more and more precious species ever closer to extinction. All this pollution and extinction only spells disaster for us. What we do to the oceans, we do to ourselves.

Illustration from first edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, artist Alphonse de Neuville 1870

In that same paragraph quoted above, Captain Nemo goes on to very poignantly hypothesize,

“The globe began with sea, so to speak; and who can say it will not end with it?”

None can say, Captain. I can safely reassure all reading this that the world will indeed end as first it was born – in a vast, all-encompassing abyss of creation and destruction as illustrated in so many of the earliest and most enduring cosmologies of nearly all cultures. If nothing else, this is perhaps something of a self-fulfilling prophecy at the unwitting hand of industrial, careless, pollutant Man. By poisoning and smothering our oceans, we are guaranteeing that our world as we know it – or the world of our children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren – will end deep beneath rising seas or at least as the direct result of sick, toxic seas that will damage our atmosphere and likely one day even turn oxygen into a precious commodity only a select few will afford or have access to.

A grim outlook? Yes, but a scientifically probable and realistic one. It is not hard to see this possible future when looking at just a few photos of beaches carpeted not with glowing sand but with plastic and trash for as far as the eye can see (not to mention the staggering amount that lies deep where we can’t see or even reach it). If no other thought but the most grim can encourage us to do all we can to prevent that future, then what will?

Even if you can’t get out on a boat and literally haul garbage out of the ocean, there is plenty you can do to keep plastic out of the ocean to begin with.

15 Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Use – 4ocean

Kiss of the Sea by Octavio Ocampo

© 2019 Meredith Everwhite – All Rights Reserved

featured image: Explosive Wave by Scott Cameron 2016

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