3 things you can do for World Oceans Day
With the easing of restrictions in many areas of the Philippines, beaches are seeing increasingly larger crowds. Perhaps you were one of those who went snorkeling this summer to get a glimpse of marine paradise, or maybe you chose to relax on the shoreline. Regardless, oceans do play a vital role in our wellbeing, so we should take steps to make sure they stay healthy in the years to come.
For starters, we can be more intentional when it comes to helping our planet. As we celebrate World Oceans Day, here are three specific ideas for you to try.
Take pictures of a local environmental problem
Observe your surroundings and see if there’s anything of concern – say, for example, the presence of white corals (which means they’re under stress), a destroyed marine habitat, or litter on the shores. Take photos of these by yourself or with a group, and identify a scientist, teacher, or local authority you can hand them over to.
This is a simple skill involved in the practice of “citizen science”, which is a collaboration between scientists and the general public in addressing local issues using their shared knowledge. In Episode 1 of Climate-smart Fisheries, citizen science specialist Dr. Miguel Fortes shares about his work.
“I just finished a draft of [the] Citizen Science Toolkit for Boracay, a 68-page book that details the problems brought about by resorts, but most important is what the community, the citizens, can do,” he says.
Typically, citizen science projects are done by groups that meet regularly, but simply taking pictures of local issues can be a stepping stone towards more committed action.
Join a coastal cleanup activity
Invite your friends to a cleanup activity at the beach, a mangrove forest, or a waterway! Dozens of volunteer groups conduct cleanups from La Union to Boracay to Siargao all year round.
During cleanups, volunteers collect trash around the area and sort these into bags. By participating in this kind of activity, you’ll not only preserve the beauty of our coasts but also protect the health of marine life and surrounding communities.
In Episode 3 of Climate-smart Fisheries, Indonesian mangrove ecologist Dr. Frida Sidik tells us of a similar initiative in their country.
“When we have plastic from the seas, mangroves just trap [them] and at the end, we have full of rubbish in the mangrove,” she says. “Two simple ways to protect mangrove from distress: first, try to understand the importance of mangrove[s] and what is driving the loss. So, for example, do not throw rubbish because plastic bags can damage the mangrove. And second, be a mangrove advocate or activist. Just like in our site, many students [and the] local community come to [be involved] in mangrove restoration. We call it the ‘Mangrove Cleanup.’”
Mangroves protect local communities from natural disasters, such as tsunamis and storm surges. If you want to learn more about their importance, listen to Dr. Frida in the podcast.
Support NGOs that help the ocean
All these simple solutions need corresponding long-term action, and this is where NGOs come in. If you’d like to make your contribution more sustainable, make sure that you participate in or support NGOs that keep our oceans alive.
A few examples are Marine Conservation Philippines which focuses on education, volunteerism, and research; Save Philippine Seas, an organization built on empowering communities; and Rare Philippines which is involved in marine biodiversity conservation and improving the lives of coastal communities.
There are many other NGOs you can support. There’s likely one near you. Look up active organizations in your area and message them to start donating or volunteering your time. Who knows? You just might save an ocean.
Now you’ve got three simple actions you can do today for World Oceans Day. Know that your small contribution, together with others’, will have a larger impact on everyone and will help keep our planet safe so we can keep enjoying our oceans in the future.