When I am in nature, especially by the ocean, I feel a sense of calm and a sense of natural order.
(I think this is because to me it feels like Mother Nature takes care of Herself.)
I remember all of the times I’ve gone camping by the sea. Sure, there is dirt, sand, bugs, seaweed and even animal scat on the trails near the shore—but it is all supposed to be there and so it doesn’t make the environment feel dirty to me.
It’s certainly not like when I am at home and would feel that these same exact things would need to be cleaned and scoured from my house.
There is a natural order to nature and we can let our guards down and relax as we are not in charge of filtering the water, removing each bug, cleaning up squirrel poop or spit shining every dusty rock that we happen upon. These are all welcome features of the outdoors and we expect them to be there.
But what if the expected surroundings of our shores started disappearing? How strange would it be if there suddenly was no seaweed with flies or sand on the shore? Or no sea turtles, dolphins or sea otters to watch playing in the surf?
What if its waters became so polluted that we couldn’t go into them?
Sadly enough, this is already happening. I’m not sure to what degree all of the elements and creatures listed above are changing just yet, but under the surface of our oceans, the scenery is much different than it was just one generation ago.
There is even a beach that I know of in Carlsbad, CA called Ponto that I spent a lot of time at as a child that suddenly had no sand on the shore—only rocks. This was caused by a man-made marina that was built up the coast and affected all of the sand on the beaches that are located south of it. Now the city pays the civil engineers big bucks to dredge the marina and a nearby lagoon of their sand and then truck that sand to place it back on the beach on top of the rocks, only to have it disappear again relatively quickly.
I also have a friend who surfs and who got a very serious infection of the lining of his heart due to surfing in polluted waters—he is okay, but this was not good.
When I go to the beach these days, I see signs that advise people to stay out of the water on a fairly regular basis. I think of the sea creatures and how they have no choice but to live in the filthy water that was caused by humans and it breaks my heart.
Many of us who don’t spend time on the coast, and especially in or beneath the water, may scratch our heads in disbelief and think that the shore appears pretty much as it always has. But it is a whole different story for oceanographers who study the health of our oceans and spend much of their time working under the water’s surface.
These scientists know the ocean inside and out.
Sylvia Earle is one of these scientists. She grew up next to the Gulf of Mexico as a child and eventually made her passion of the ocean into her profession. She has spent thousands of hours under the water, and has even lived under the sea for days at a time.
Some of us are skeptical to believe what we are told but can’t see with our own eyes, about the changes happening in our oceans. But it is important to open our minds and hearts to understand how bad the situation has become. For instance, more than half of the world’s coral reefs are either dead or dying.
And as Sylvia so eloquently states, “Nature is resilient, but not infinitely so.”
It is astounding to me that although Sylvia has seen so much devastation under the oceans that she loves so much, she is able to remain optimistic. She conveys a hopeful attitude and conveys that if we take action, there is a good chance that we still have time to turn the damage to the oceans around, or at least stop it in its tracks—but only if we hurry.
What does she think that this going to take? Communication. And lots of it. Some of which needs to happen in the higher echelons of political communities. Our world leaders are going to have to stop thinking about obtaining power for themselves and their own countries and focus more on what is best for humanity, our earth, and its oceans.
After all, there is only one earth and so it is in everyone’s best interest to take care of it for ourselves and for future generations.
What I love and could relate to the most about Sylvia’s message is that she speaks of two of the most important concepts that I try to live by—open and honest communication and the belief that one should leave places in a better state than they found them in.
Just imagine if everyone was willing to commit to these two simple ideas.
I wonder how much better the world and its oceans would fair?
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Editor: Bryonie Wise