A wave of support for the ocean

I have to say, it’s been a rough few weeks for the ocean, what with the Gulf oil spill, and the International Whaling Commission’s failure to protect the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Actually, it’s been a tough few decades, if you take into account new research, released Thursday, that shows nearly 1,000 sperm whales tested with tissue-sampling darts over five years, are chock-full of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, lead, silver, mercury and titanium. Biologist Roger Payne, the 75-year old founder of Ocean Alliance, best known for his 1968 discovery and recording of songs by humpback whales, conducted the 5-year study and his discovery rocked the IWC meeting, particularly when he ended it with: “I don’t see any future for whale species except extinction.”

Whales are at the top of the food chain (like humans) so they get the accumulated toxins that every organism along the way up the chain ingests. Considering that 1 billion people depend on fish as the primary source of protein, the future probably doesn’t look too rosy for us, either.

In any event, if you want to do something to make yourself feel better (I sure do) today is Hands Across the Sands Day. Find out where people are meeting on the website, and go out to your local beach or inland gathering place at 11 am in your time zone. At noon, for 15 minutes everybody there will form a long, human chain of hands joined in symbolic protest against oil drilling and the imperilment of our coasts, oceans, marine wildlife and fishing industry.

This simple, peaceful demonstration is the brain child of surfer and restaurateur Dave Rauschkolb who held a similar event across the state of Florida on February 13, earlier this year, to protest lifting a ban on oil drilling in Florida waters. (I think they may have gotten the message now.)

It's the ripple effect. (Photo by Jim Patterson)

Today I’m holding hands inland and sending $100 to Oceana, founded in 2001 and the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation. With offices all across the world, Oceana works with scientists, economists and governments to stop ocean pollution, promote responsible fishing, protect marine wildlife, and return our oceans to former levels of abundance. And they’ve had notable success: protecting 640 million acres of ocean from bottom trawling (fishing’s version of clear cutting that destroys everything on the ocean floor), making drift nets illegal, placing escape devices on nets to save 60,000 sea turtles/year, and convincing Royal Caribbean cruise lines to stop dumping untreated waste into the sea.

Quite frankly, it seems like a drop in the bucket compared to everything that’s being unleashed on our beautiful, majestic oceans, but we have to try. It’s in our hands.  To donate to Oceana, click here!

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