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Our role in the ocean

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Sound insight. Dan Colburn writes again.

We’ve all seen oceanic wildlife while out for a surf; dolphins peeking up at you as they cruise by or turtles bobbing like corks as they grab a gulp of fresh air before lumbering back down to the depths. Pelicans sail by, inches above the water, giving you the stink eye for ruining their wave.

These are the true mariners … not us. They were here long before we were and they have every right to claim ownership of the ocean we seem to think is ours and ours alone.

We launch our carbon spewing watercrafts into it. We build our homes and businesses along its shores, encroaching closer and closer on their fragile habitats. In some countries we (as a race) are even continuing to hunt whales and slaughter dolphin.

We do these things in the name of “progression” and “advancement,” or in some cases claiming “cultural tradition,” hoping for some glimmer of ethical cleansing and immunity from the masses. And of course who can possibly ignore perhaps the most painful of these acts; our “need” to draw from it one of the human races most treasured commodities, oil. It is in these incredibly selfish acts that we endanger not only the lives of the creatures dwelling in their cerulean haven but the lives of their offspring, not to mention the flora that grows under the surface and along the shorelines. We are slowly (well, maybe not so slowly as of late) creating a scenario from which we may not be able recover.

I bring my daughter to the beach almost daily so she can do one of her favorite things in the world … jump the waves as they come in. She is not ignorant of the our impact on the sea. Even at age 4 she knows that the oceanic ecosystem is both fragile and threatened. She asked me just the other day if there was anything we could do to help protect the whales that are being hunted “by the bad people.” (Her words.) Of course I told her that there are good people that are doing their best to protect them. She cried herself to sleep that night because she was so sad about what is going on in the ocean.

The real sadness comes when you realize she doesn’t fully comprehend the magnitude of what we are doing. Or the fact that unless we all take a stand it isn’t going to stop. The truth is that while we seek to live in commune with nature, we often endanger it. The solution to all this is simple … live simply. Drive your car less. If you only live two miles from work or the grocery store, try riding your bike instead of driving. If you have the means, invest in alternative power sources. And by all means, don’t litter and don’t forget to pick up any trash you see, don’t just walk by it. Remember, Pick up Three, and pick up our planet.

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