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Student Blog: World Oceans Day

08 June 2019

About two years ago, I was going on a trip to the beach, so I downloaded some documentaries to watch on the car journey. I started watching a documentary called Plastic Ocean

I can honestly say that this was a moment that changed my life. 

This was the first time I had seen all the terrible damage that humans are doing to the ocean, filling it with plastics and micro-plastics. I felt so sad and frustrated. All those years I didn´t know that we are destroying our oceans and I wasn´t doing anything to stop it. 
 
When we got out of the car at the beach and went to the restaurant, it was like I was looking at the world with new eyes. Suddenly, I saw all the plastic waste. People eating with disposable cutlery, plastic bags and containers being thrown carelessly in the bin. The beach looked beautiful, but now that I looked closer, I started to see all the things I hadn´t seen before – the bits of plastic in among the sand, the bits of plastic floating on the waves. 
 
It was such a shock to me. 

Ever since then, I have tried to live my life in a way that doesn´t damage our environment, to minimize my plastic waste and to try and reduce my carbon footprint.
 
I wanted to share this story with you today because tomorrow it is World Ocean´s Day. I know that the more you guys know about the terrible problems our oceans are facing, the more you will want to do to save them. 
 
Now I am going to show you the trailer of the documentary I was talking about before. This documentary is about plastic pollution and the destructive effect this is having on our oceans.

(Trailer for Plastic Ocean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zrn4-FfbXw )

So, what can we do to make our oceans clean and clear again? 

Three words: reduce, reuse and recycle. 

I love how these three words relate to one another: if we recycle, we are reusing; and if we are reusing, we are reducing our waste. 
 But, unfortunately, plastic pollution is not the only threat to our oceans. There is an even bigger threat to the survival of all ocean life – global warming.
 
Experts are no longer referring to climate change as climate change, because they state that this term does not convey the deadly severity of our current situation. Climate change is now being referred to as the climate crisis or climate catastrophe.

Climate change is not something in the future. It is already happening. 

The ocean absorbs most of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions – the fumes that we warm our world with every time we drive in a car or fly on a plane… As the ocean soaks up this heat, it gets warmer. As it gets warmer, marine species and ecosystems are endangered and die.

Later, I will talk to you about the horrors of coral bleaching – a vast underwater rainbow of living creatures turned into dead white skeleton. 

And how do we know this is already happening? All we need to do is look at the news. Rising ocean temperatures increase the spread of disease and cause more extreme weather events, such as the recent cyclone that devastated Mozambique and killed over six hundred people. The oceans are already warming and with deadly effects – not just on the creatures that live in it, but on the rest of us too.

So, what can we do? The answers should be familiar to you by now. You have heard from Protect Our Winters, and Jess Wright, from Miss MacLeod and Ana Fer, and hopefully you sometimes take the time to read and learn from Surval’s Sustainability staircase. More and more people are changing how they live in order to save our planet. 
 
Can anyone tell me some of the biggest changes we can make to reduce our carbon footprint? 
 
(Audience participation.) 

There are lots of simple changes we can make that will have a positive impact. Shop less, shop local, shop organic. Eat less meat and dairy products, or go vegetarian or even vegan. Get our parents to switch to renewable energy and buy electric cars. Save energy, turn off lights, take cold showers, let your hair dry naturally. Fly less, drive less, basically use less fossil fuels.

If we actually make these changes, we can make a difference.

We can help stop our seas and oceans being stuffed with garbage and warmed to levels where they can no longer sustain life.
 
We can help stop the deaths of innocent sea creatures and the destruction of vulnerable ecosystems.
 
We can help stop catastrophic, life-threatening, species ending global warming. 
 
The second documentary that had a powerful impact on me was Chasing Coral. This documentary depicts a small team of people who are passionate about protecting coral trying to capture coral bleaching. 

Put your hand up if you have ever seen pictures of colorful coral reefs, such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Put your hand up if you have ever been lucky enough to go diving in a coral reef. 

What some of you may not realize is that coral is actually a living creature. Corals are sea animals that stay in one place for their whole lives. Some types produce a skeleton, also called coral, that remains in place after the living coral dies. When corals are dying, they change from its original color to a bright white skeleton. This is called coral bleaching. 
 
As our oceans warm, we are suffering mass coral bleaching. And, as the corals die, so do the ecosystems that depend on them for survival. It would be a big mistake to think that just because this is happening out of sight under the sea that it isn’t going to affect us.


I am going to show you an extract from Chasing Coral. This scene is the moment where the team present their findings – their photos of real-life coral bleaching – to an audience of marine biology experts. I hope you find this extract as moving as I do. I hope the images inspire you to want to be part of saving our oceans.
 
(Extract from Chasing Coral – from the moment the team present their findings up to the end of the montage that shows people from all over the planet sharing their images of coral bleaching.)
 

As you can see, coral bleaching is happening all over our planet. What more evidence do we need for the fact our oceans are getting dangerously warm? 

So let´s do everything we can on this World Ocean´s Day, and every day, to protect the incredible underwater world of our planet. Because the survival of that world is essential to our survival too.