Our ocean is facing a myriad of threats to its existence today, including pollution, climate change, and overfishing. Trying to tackle these problems at home may seem daunting, but the little changes in our daily routines and lifestyles do make a difference as a community. Here are some ways you can help the ocean in your daily routine:
1. Reduce energy and fossil fuel use
As we all know, burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the air and is ultimately responsible for global warming. This climate change also affects our oceans, as water temperatures will continue to rise with global warming trends. In addition, carbon dioxide absorbed by the oceans also makes it more acidic. These two factors are altering the ecosystems in the ocean, as marine life will have to adapt to warmer water temperatures and the acidity of ocean water will kill off marine life and coral reefs. Using more sources of renewable energy will make a difference in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and ultimately protect our oceans.
2. Use less fertilizer
Excess fertilizer used in home gardens and commercial agriculture eventually ends up in the ocean, which creates “dead zones” in the water. These hypoxic (low oxygen) areas are caused by excess nutrients in runoff from human activities. Fish and other marine life are unable to survive in this water, as there is not enough oxygen in these dead zones for them to breathe. One of the largest dead zones in the world is in the Gulf of Mexico, where nutrient runoff from the Mississippi River has created a dead zone that has spanned nearly 8,400 square miles in size.
The decay of algae from algal blooms often causes dead zones, such as this one off the coast of La Jolla, CA
3. Use fewer plastic products and cut down your trash
Plastic products often end up in the ocean, where it destroys natural habitats and entangles animals mistaking it for food. As many plastic products are not biodegradable, many plastic products that make their way to the ocean will remain there for thousands of years. Using less disposable products will reduce the overall amount of garbage that is created, leading to less garbage that may end up in the ocean.
4. Watching what you eat
Seafood is a popular delicacy in cultures around the world, but there aren’t many fish left in the sea. Over the past century, overfishing has drastically reduced the amount of fish left in the wild and areas such as the North Sea and the East China Sea have felt the consequences. When buying seafood from your local retailer or restaurant, ensure that the seafood you consume was sustainably harvested (meaning that the species can maintain a healthy population even while harvested).
It may be insignificant, but the biggest changes that you can make to preserve the ocean start in your household and community!
Cover Image Credit: Andrew Hung