Give Sea Turtles a Hand
If you live in a beachfront home, help sea turtles during the nesting and hatching seasons by turning off white outdoor lights at night or covering them with red cellophane.
Sea turtles use the light of the moon to return to the ocean and get confused by other bright white lights, but are less disturbed by red lights. Nesting and hatching typically takes place June through November.
Like sea turtles? See which fish to avoid buying at the fish market in order to protect loggerhead turtles.
Why Oceans Need Our Help
Global fisheries are on the verge of collapse. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 80 percent of the world's fisheries are now overexploited, fully exploited, depleted or recovering from overexploitation by fishermen.
Overfishing isn't the only problem. Erosion, along with fertilizer and pesticide runoff from both farms and residential neighborhoods, contributes to pollution of near-shore waters, where more than 400 dead zones have been documented worldwide. Global warming is increasing ocean temperatures. Ocean acidification, another consequence of global warming, threatens the viability of ocean ecosystems in the decades ahead. Some have gone so far as to suggest that we're sending the oceans back to some primordial stew, full of algae, jellyfish and not much else.
It doesn't have to end up that way. That's why The Daily Green is teaming up with Oceana to provide you with these simple tips that each of us can do to help. Oceana's mission is to "make our oceans as rich, healthy and abundant as they were in our grandparents youth.... a future in which dolphin sightings are common along any temperate coast; in which the mighty swordfish, marlin and tuna are abundant once again; in which whales and sea turtles thrive, cod are plentiful on both sides of the Atlantic, local fishing cultures evolve rather than decline and in which fish are a safe, growing and plentiful source of food around the world." What follows are a few steps we all can do to ensure that we choose that future of abundance.
Carry Reusable Bags
Plastic debris in the ocean degrades marine habitats and contributes to the deaths of marine animals. Because floating plastic often resembles food to many marine birds, sea turtles and marine mammals, they can choke or starve because their digestive systems get blocked when they eat it.
Help prevent these unnecessary deaths by using reusable water bottles and cloth grocery bags like the Oceana tote bag.
Buy Ocean-Friendly Cosmetics and Jewelry
Steer clear of cosmetics containing shark-based squalene (look at your moisturizer and sunscreen in particular) and jewelry made of coral or tortoiseshell. These products are directly linked to unsustainable fishing and harm to entire ecosystems.
Use products with olive-based squalene and adorn yourself with local handmade jewelry through craft fairs or online markets like Etsy.
Reduce Your Energy Use
Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels doesnt just affect the terrestrial world its making our oceans more acidic and inhospitable. Scientists agree that we could face a mass extinction of corals in this century as their calcium skeletons are weakened by the increasing acidity of the water.
There are many simple ways you can reduce your carbon footprint. Ride a bike, walk or use public transportation. Use high efficiency appliances in your home. Turn off appliances when they arent in use. Turn up your thermostat a few degrees in the summer and down a few degrees in the winter. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs in your house. For more information, see oceana.org/climate.
Beyond carbon, power plants are also a major source of mercury. Coal-burning and chlorine plants release mercury into the atmosphere, and it eventually accumulates in the flesh of some of the bigger fish.
Avoid fish that contain high levels of mercury, a neurotoxin that attacks the central nervous system. The FDA recommends that children and women who may become pregnant avoid high-mercury fish like swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel, and to eat only the equivalent of one tuna sandwich a week. Many grocery stores post the FDA warning at seafood counters to help you make your decisions. Check out Oceanas Green List to see if your local store posts the information.
Use Less Fertilizer
Excess fertilizer eventually ends up in the ocean. One result is the appearance of "dead zones" areas with very low levels of oxygen in the water. In the Gulf of Mexico, a dead zone the size of New Jersey forms during the spring and summer. Since all marine life requires oxygen to live, they must flee the area or die. Many other coastal areas are at risk too. Use fertilizer sparingly if you feel you must use it.
See The Daily Green's organic lawn care tips to learn how to keep your yard healthy without excess fertilizers or other harsh chemicals.
Enjoy Corals and Marine Life Firsthand
When planning your vacations, consider scuba diving. Not only will it bring you face to flipper with marine animals and ecosystems, your tourist dollars give a good reason for political leaders in the US and other nations to protect reefs. Oceanas report Sea the Value found that divers were willing to pay an additional $55.35 per dive on average if it meant seeing healthy corals.
Choose Your Seafood Wisely
Look for special terms like line-caught or diver-caught when buying fish, or use a downloadable seafood guide. Ask questions. For two of America's most popular fish, remember these tips:
Tuna: Say no to bluefin tuna. This sushi-grade fish, known along with other tuna as toro, is not only costly but also imperiled by extinction, with Atlantic populations close to a 90% decline from historic levels. Avoid the cost and guilt by ordering some ahi tuna instead.
Salmon: Choose wild Alaskan salmon over farmed or Atlantic salmon (which usually doesnt come from the Atlantic Ocean). Wild salmon is not only tastier, but healthier for the environment. Farmed salmon causes a lot of pollution and contributes to overfishing since it takes 4 to 11 pounds of wild fish to create one pound of farmed salmon.
Watch The End of the Line
The movie features Dr. Daniel Pauly, the renowned fisheries scientist and Oceana board member who led research discovering that the global fish catch actually peaked in the 1980s and has been declining ever since. Take your friends and get the facts. Check out endoftheline.com for screenings in your area.
Make Some Waves
Sign up to become a Wavemaker, an Oceana online activist. Become an active voice in our campaigns to stop habitat destruction, overfishing and pollution.
Oceanas Wavemakers have successfully persuaded companies to stop selling shark products in cosmetics, advocated for sea turtles around the world and helped close the Arctic to industrial fishing. Your voice matters. Sign up today at oceana.org/join.