Earth Day 2015 - Get Involved
Today marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, a day dedicated to raise awareness about the environmental destruction of the planet and an opportunity to get involved with conservation events across the world. Here's a list of things you can do to help marine life in 2015
1 Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
In 2006, the United Nations Environment Programme estimated 46,000 pieces of plastic float in every square mile of the ocean. Plastic accounts for ninety percent of all marine trash. Disturbingly, circular currents of the oceans can trap the floating debris in slow-moving, spiralling gyres of water, where plastic products begin the slow break-down into microplastics. Tiny microplastics can be consumed by zooplankton or larger fish and the toxins magnify upwards in the food chain.
You can help reduce the flow of plastic waste into the ocean by refusing plastic products. Try to avoid accepting plastic bags or excessive packaging and steer clear of face scrubs which contain plastic microbeads. Then, reduce the amount of plastic you use, reuse the plastic you already have and recycle it as a last resort.
3 Sustainable Seafood
Try to consume only sustainable seafood. While supermarkets sell 'dolphin friendly' products, there are many other species of fish which are threatened by overfishing and particularly destructive fishing methods. Overall, try to diversify the fish you eat - it takes three pounds of wild fish (for example, sardines, anchovies, mackerel for example) to produce one pound of farmed salmon. Swapping fish staples to smaller variaties can be a more sustainable approach. Then, try to make sure that the fish you eat has been caught sustainably. The Marine Conservation Society has created a thorough online guide of fish to eat and fish to avoid as well as a quick printable pdf for you to use at home.
4 HElp to Plant Mangroves
Found mainly in the tropics and subtropics, Mangrove forests are crucial breeding grounds for marine life. Decaying mangrove leaves and roots provide nourismnent for plankton, algae, fish and shellfish while their intricate criss-cross root systems makes them the perfect nurseries for juvenile reef fish. However, studies show that over the last fifty years, half of the world’s mangrove forests have been lost to coastal development. While there may not be a mangrove forest on your doorstep, you can help to protect these important ecosystems by getting involved in conservation projects such as the Mangrove Action Project or The Mangrove Society of India.
5 Beach Clean
High tides and storms brings tons of litter from the oceans onto beaches every year. However, harmful litter is also brought to the beach by tourists in the warmed weather. Every year, the litter on our beaches is increasing. You can prevent this litter from re-entering the sea by cleaning your nearest beach. Or for fun, participating in a local beach cleaning event. In September 2014, the Great British Beach Clean found on average 2,457 bits of litter per kilometre. Find a beach clean near you!
6 Debris Dive
Put your dive to great use! Much of the litter that finds its way to the ocean can sink. A debris dive can clean up your favourite diving spot, and contribute to a citizen science programme developed specially for scuba divers. The aim is for divers to report on the type and quantity of litter at a particular location that they are familiar with. The litter can then be catagorized based on its material sch as plastic, glass/ceramic or metal. So far, over 1000 Dive against Debris surveys have been carried out. The UK, Spain and Italy are the top three data reporters in Europe. In order to identify trends, participants can repeat the survey of their chosen sight on a regular basis.
7 Report Sightings
Reporting your sighting to the data banks such as the Marine Conservation Society and the REEF Exotic Report can help document the presence of species in specific locations. Your sightings can contribute to data about the number, migration, and behaviour of marine species on your dive. and The Marine Conservation Society are interested in your sightings of jellyfish, marine turtles and alien species. If you report a live sighting in Cornwall during Spring 2015 it will mobilise the University of Exeter/MCS basking shark tagging team to find the sharks and keep track of the species.
9 Reef Surveys
To contribute to a richer understanding of coral reefs, you can take part in a REEF diver survey. It might be a fantastic way to notice things on your dives that you had not noticed before, it also allows you to use your diving skills to contribute to scientific data. The project allows volunteer divers to collect data on marine fish populations as well as selected algae and invertebrates. All you will need is an underwater slate and pencil, a goof reference book and, of course, internet access. The idea is to swim freely though a dive site in order to record every identifiable species of fish as soon as you enter the water. The aim is to find as many species as possible so the whole water column should be explored.