Organizations Working on Cleaning Up Oceans

Trash and other human debris have long been an ocean of problems to our oceans. Humans, in one way or another, continue to pollute ocean waters, posing a serious threat to not only the marine ecosystems but to us also. This has seen many organizations come up in a bid to clean the oceans and spread the word on how important keeping the waters clean is. This post has highlighted some of these organizations and what they are doing to protect our oceans.

  1. Ocean Conservancy.

Founded in 1972, Ocean Conservancy has a vision of fighting to keep the oceans healthy. The vision has seen the organization initiate such projects as the International Coastal Cleanup through which several thousands of volunteers from across the US help in clearing human debris and trash from beaches every year.

The organization also runs an online petition geared towards putting giant oil companies (like the BP) to task in ensuring that they take responsibility to avoid oil spills.

  1. The Surfrider Foundation.

This non-profit organization works to preserve and protect the oceans through focusing on coastal ecosystems, beach access, water quality, and surf and beach spot preservation. The organization has a strong activist network which allows people to connect and help in ocean conservation efforts.

The foundation has a strong presence in social media where it engages activists, encouraging them to keep spreading the word and participating in various beach cleanup activities. Surfrider Foundation does most of its work mainly in North and South America, Europe and also Japan.

  1. 5 Gyres.

5 Gyres is another non-profit organization that mainly focuses on plastic marine pollution. Their operations are primarily set to ensure oceans are plastic-free. The organization’s Institute, the 5Gyres Institute, engages various communities, policy makers, corporate partners, and the public through several explorations, education, and scientific research.

5 Gyres encourages systematic change in the efforts to reduce plastic pollution. The organization has its operations all over the world.

  1. Oceana.

In the entire world, Oceana is the largest ocean conservation organization that has solely devoted itself to marine conservation through various policy campaigns. Oceana has a vision of making the oceans “as rich, abundant, and healthy as they were.”

The organization protects marine life affected by pollution and industrial fishing. In 2014 through one of its campaigns, Oceana was able to halt Shell’s plans for drilling in the Arctic Ocean for oil. The organization has its headquarters in Washington DC but has several offices spread all over the world also.

Other organizations include Take 3 which is basically, an initiative that encourages individuals to leave the oceans and beaches cleaners they find them. Another is the Balloons Blow organization that educates people about the effects of balloons and plastic trash in the ocean.

Our Acidic Oceans

In a 2014 U.N. report, a reduction of the PH levels in our oceans, known as ocean acidification will cost the world economy over $1 trillion every year by 2100.  This change in the ocean’s composition will affect many commercial industries relying on the ocean’s ecosystem.

The burning of fossil fuels and other air pollutants, cause a high concentration of carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere.  Ocean acidification is caused by the excess absorption of CO2 or Carbon dioxide by the ocean.  This causes chemical reactions in the water, resulting in more acidic oceans and seas.  This in turn decreases the content of carbonate ions in the water.

Carbonate ions are a building block of calcifying organisms such as sea shells and coral, as well as shelled organisms such as oysters, clams, sea urchins and plankton.  Acid water can break up the composition of the shells.   Shelled organisms such as Zooplankton or Pterpods are a very important food source for many fish.

This situation affects fishing industries worldwide, with immediate impact to species that grow a shell.  In the US Pacific Northwest, for example, oyster hatcheries have a much higher than normal larval mortality.  When water is more acidic, it takes more energy for these organisms to build a shell; energy that could have gone towards getting food or reproduction.

Businesses that depend on the ocean for survival are wise to monitor the situation in their area closely by accurate bookkeeping records.  By comparing yearly income they can determine firsthand how the ocean’s increased acidity is affecting their bottom line and at what rate.  With this knowledge, brings a move to a solution.

Sharks, Love Them or Hate Them, We Still Need Them

Sharks are a fascinating creature that have been around since before the days of the dinosaur.  Through neglect, fear and greed, we humans are wiping them out at an alarming rate.  Shark- finning, a type of fishing where the sharks are caught, the fin is sliced off and the shark is discarded back into the ocean to die has become a huge problem as it kills over 100 million sharks per year.  All this cruelty and waste because Shark Fin soup is a delicacy that is in high demand in China.  Bycatch is another way that sharks are being killed.  This is a method of fishing where other fishes are caught unintentionally along with the target fish such as Tuna.  These along with a destruction through pollution of a shark’s natural habitat are some of the reasons for the decrease in the shark population.

Some may not really care about the shark population declining, however, here is what happens if there are no sharks.  As an Apex predator, they are responsible for keeping ecosystems in balance.  The shark is at the top of the food chain, and basically it eats smaller fish, who eat smaller fish, and so on, until we get to the small fish who algae, which if not kept in balance will destroy the coral reefs, home to millions of species of marine life, and  our shorelines would resemble a green carpet.    An imbalance of sharks also affect the fishing industries.  For example, sharks eat sting rays and sting rays love scallops.  Off the coast of North Carolina, the over fishing of sharks caused an overpopulation of sting rays who ate all the scallops.  This ended scallop fishing in North Carolina.  When the ecosystem is not in balance, the repercussions are felt by all.  Sharks control the oceans ecosystem which covers 2/3 of our planet. Our oceans provide us with more than half of the oxygen that we breath.  Also, over 3 billion people rely on the oceans for food and livelihood, it is clear that sharks are not a pest to be controlled, but an integral member of our ecosystem.  As you can see, the repercussions of a world with no sharks could be very bad for us.  It may also lead to our destruction.

 

Cruise Ships, Their Impact on The Ocean

Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole….feeling hot, hot, hot.  Who doesn’t like a cruise?  While we are all basking in the sunshine and enjoying the never ending buffet, do we ever think of exactly what impact this floating hotel has on the ocean beneath it?  Noise pollution is usually something we don’t associate with  to the ocean.  While we are enjoying the entertainment, the ship’s engines and machinery is continually emitting noise into the ocean that hurts marine life with sensitive hearing, causing irreparable harm and possibly death. Ships hold water in tanks in order to help with balance and stability.  This is called ballast water, and it is full of microbes and germs because when the ship takes on the water, it takes whatever sea life is in it as well.  Eventually this water is dumped out, releasing all the dead sea life back into the ocean.  Air Pollution is an issue because just like automobiles, a ships engines release noxious pollution into the air.   Another problem is that a cruise ship releases all its waste into the water such as grey water pollution with its dish and laundry water; black water pollution from toilet sewage, about 30,000 gallons a day of black water sewage daily; and solid waste such as cans, paper, cardboard, plastic bottles etc.  Another pollution to consider is oil/bilge pollution.  Engine oil often seeps and mixes with ocean water from faulty machinery or actual accidents.  Oil is heavier than water so it doesn’t degrade quickly causing endless problems to marine life.

One of the best ways to stop a corporation from doing something that is harmful is to hit them in the wallet.  What would happen if tourists took a stand against the inconsiderate amount of pollution that a cruise ship causes?  If enough business is lost, the point will be made and this industry would make the changes necessary to keep our oceans healthy.