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How To Be a Friend to Oceans and Marine Life

people pick up trash off the beach

How To Be a Friend to Oceans and Marine Life

Good citizenship — so important civic organizations give awards for it and Boy and Girl Scouts earn badges for it. Oceans need good citizens, too. Your footprints will be washed away, and, of course, you never litter the beach. But what else do our oceans need from their human visitors? The National Geographic Society lists ten steps you should take to keep our oceans clean. This article gives examples of how you can work toward a shared goal of keeping our oceans as free as possible from human pollution and interference:

  • Keep your energy use reasonable — no matter how far you inland you travel — to help prevent changes in ocean climate. Put on enough clothes to be comfortable indoors with the thermostat set three degrees below your usual comfort level. Instead of turning on the air conditioner, try opening windows and using fans. Consider using a bike for local travel. Lobby local officials for bike paths.


  • When buying seafood at a market or restaurant choose species that are not being depleted. Grouper and guitar fish made the endangered or threatened lists in the past two years.


  • PLASTIC! An eyesore, a danger onland and offshore. You know this. Go European and shop with a cloth or reusable bag. Reduce dependence on plastic kitchen items. Recycle every bit of plastic you discard. When on the beach, don’t just search for shells, carry a bag for plastic litter and put it in a recycle bin or at least in a garbage bin. Instead of scavenger hunts, hold a plastic hunt with a prize for the most pounds of plastic removed from your favorite beach.


  • When you visit a beach, be polite to your hostess. You would not take her pets home or stick a prize knickknack in your pocket. So why hassle marine wildlife and chip off bits of live coral? 


  • Boycott products that harm coral reefs and marine creatures. Coral jewelry is attractive, but coral reefs are natural treasures. You do not need anything made from a shark. How can you enjoy a tortoiseshell hairpiece when you know they are made from endangered hawksbill turtles?


  • Be a pet owner who also treasures our oceans. Read pet food labels to be sure any seafood is not from an endangered species. Do not flush cat litter; its pathogens can kill fish and other marine life. Do not catch salt-water fish just to display them in an aquarium. And, do not toss any aquarium fish into any body of water. One non-native fish can release eggs that upset an ecosystem.


  • Support organizations that help to protect the ocean. Time, talent, and tweets are always needed. A little cash goes a long way, too.
  • If local, elected officials do not support marine conservation, find out why and work to have marine-friendly candidates elected. If you see a threatened species in a grocery store or on a menu, complain to the manager and voice your concern on social media.


  • Be a responsible citizen on the water whether on a private boat or on a cruise. “Man Overboard” is an accepted distress cry. “Beer bottle overboard” can teach a fellow boater to have more respect for the environment. If you take a cruise, find the most eco-friendly cruise lines.


  • Learn all you can about the ocean and its eco-systems. Find ways to put your knowledge into action and into educating others on ways to protect this vital global resource.


The more time you spend in and on the water, the more effective you can be. Others may follow your example. The time to save the ocean is yesterday, so we have a lot of catching up to do.

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