ocean temperature

Ocean Temperature is Rising

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Ranelle Ivens

SITE AUTHOR

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Ranelle’s addiction to SCUBA started in 2004. From a young age she has been fascinated by the ocean and the creatures living within it. Her Ultimate dive dream is to swim with Orcas and to dive the world. Ranelle is a certified PADI Specialty Instructor and spent 3 years in university studying Science and Biology.

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Down here in Costa Rica, this year past year has been a weird one and 2019 seems to be following suit. As divers, we are constantly paying attention to the weather of the ocean. The ocean temperature, the visibility, the types of wildlife and their quantities, waves, tides, and more. After a while, you get to know the patterns and seasons of the ocean. They change just like they do on land, with temperatures and great migrations as well. However this year, things have been increasingly odd, so much that it scares me.

The Ocean in Playas Del Coco

If you’ve ever dived in or lived near the Pacific you will know it to be the bi-polar ocean that can’t make up its mind. The conditions can change drastically from one day to the next, though it always changes within a bracket. For 5 months of the year in Playas del Coco, we expect the water to be cold (62-75°F) and murky (5-25ft of visibility). It has been this way for decades, except for this year. This year, the cold never came and neither did the plankton.

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Down here in Costa Rica, this year past year has been a weird one and 2019 seems to be following suit. As divers, we are constantly paying attention to the weather of the ocean. The ocean temperature, the visibility, the types of wildlife and their quantities, waves, tides, and more. After a while, you get to know the patterns and seasons of the ocean. They change just like they do on land, with temperatures and great migrations as well. However this year, things have been increasingly odd, so much that it scares me.

The Ocean in Playas Del Coco

If you’ve ever dived in or lived near the Pacific you will know it to be the bi-polar ocean that can’t make up its mind. The conditions can change drastically from one day to the next, though it always changes within a bracket. For 5 months of the year in Playas del Coco, we expect the water to be cold (62-75°F) and murky (5-25ft of visibility). It has been this way for decades, except for this year. This year, the cold never came and neither did the plankton.

Isn’t this good news?

We are now 2 months into the 5 months cool diving season and our temperatures are 75-82°F and our visibility 20-40ft. I don’t want to complain as I love the tropical conditions but this is not normal. In fact, this is very very dangerous.

Normally, a northern current flows down the West American coast bringing cold nutrient-rich water into Playas del Coco and beyond. This year it has yet to arrive, and the ocean is considerably warmer for it. With the average temperature for the year raising so significantly, many species are at risk, including humans.

The Effect of Consistently Elevated Ocean Temperature

When the ocean temperature rises, it affects the entire planet. The ocean is essentially the thermostat of the earth, and lately, we have been cranking up the heat. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the surface water temperature has risen by approximately 2°F/1°C in the last 100 years. All the excess heat of greenhouse gases has been absorbed by the ocean as it is trying to regulate the global temperature. If it weren’t for the ocean absorbing all this heat, our surface temperature would have risen by 98.5°F/36°C. In other words, we’d all likely be dead or burning to death in a worldwide desert.

Instead, the Ocean has saved our asses once again. And as a result, it is suffering from our benefit. Below is a list of just a few of the effects of a warmer ocean.

  • Mass Coral bleaching and death
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Increased risk and transmission of water-borne diseases
  • Expanding water is eating up the coasts
  • Loss of coastal habitat for marine mammals such as seabirds and turtles
  • Failed Breeding (species giving birth to a sole gender or, no hatching at all)
  • Reduced fish populations, and reduced catch by Fisheries
  • Ocean acidification (pH imbalance)
  • Changes the flow of major ocean currents
  • Change in major weather systems
  • An increase of the El Nino effect (reduced rain in tropical climates)
  • Extreme droughts and floods
  • Glacial melts
  • Much, much, much more, that you can download and read here. In a detailed publication by more than 20 scientists explaining ocean warming).

 

[/et_pb_image][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text (main post content)” module_class=”dd-post-content” _builder_version=”3.19.9″ text_font=”Lato||||” text_text_color=”#04493e” text_font_size=”15″ text_line_height=”1.4em” border_style=”solid”]

Isn’t this good news?

We are now 2 months into the 5 months cool diving season and our temperatures are 75-82°F and our visibility 20-40ft. I don’t want to complain as I love the tropical conditions but this is not normal. In fact, this is very very dangerous.

Normally, a northern current flows down the West American coast bringing cold nutrient-rich water into Playas del Coco and beyond. This year it has yet to arrive, and the ocean is considerably warmer for it. With the average temperature for the year raising so significantly, many species are at risk, including humans.

The Effect of Consistently Elevated Ocean Temperature

When the ocean temperature rises, it affects the entire planet. The ocean is essentially the thermostat of the earth, and lately, we have been cranking up the heat. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the surface water temperature has risen by approximately 2°F/1°C in the last 100 years. All the excess heat of greenhouse gases has been absorbed by the ocean as it is trying to regulate the global temperature. If it weren’t for the ocean absorbing all this heat, our surface temperature would have risen by 98.5°F/36°C. In other words, we’d all likely be dead or burning to death in a worldwide desert.

Instead, the Ocean has saved our asses once again. And as a result, it is suffering from our benefit. Below is a list of just a few of the effects of a warmer ocean.

  • Mass Coral bleaching and death
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Increased risk and transmission of water-borne diseases
  • Expanding water is eating up the coasts
  • Loss of coastal habitat for marine mammals such as seabirds and turtles
  • Failed Breeding (species giving birth to a sole gender or, no hatching at all)
  • Reduced fish populations, and reduced catch by Fisheries
  • Ocean acidification (pH imbalance)
  • Changes the flow of major ocean currents
  • Change in major weather systems
  • An increase of the El Nino effect (reduced rain in tropical climates)
  • Extreme droughts and floods
  • Glacial melts
  • Much, much, much more, that you can download and read here. In a detailed publication by more than 20 scientists explaining ocean warming).

 

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This is happening NOW

Not in 10 years from now, but already happening. all of the effects listed above have been observed, they are NOT predictions. I personally have experienced many of these changes. This year in Costa Rica was one of the driest rainy seasons yet, and we have suffered from major drought. The year before changes in the weather system resulted in hurricanes which are almost never seen in this region. We also experienced major flooding the likes of which have never been seen here either.

Now it is once again showing itself in an increase in the number of female turtles. In addition to this, as I mentioned earlier, the northern current that usually hits Playas del Coco has yet to arrive. As a result, the Giant Pacific Mantas Rays that usually visit us this time of year are scarce along with various other species of stingray.

Why?

If you haven’t put two and two together already, it’s because humans suck. Both figuratively and literally. We are sucking this planet dry of resources, and life. Soon we will even suck ourselves dry. Our consumption of petroleum, coal and even conventional livestock has resulted in an excess of greenhouse gases.

Since the ’50s, the ocean has absorbed 93% of those gases, while the other 7% has been hurrying along ozone depletion. Unfortunately, we are not doing enough to reduce our emissions even though scientists have been telling us to do so for years. In other words, we are a bunch greedy pig-headed ignorants causing the destruction of our own planet.

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There is an alternative, but it’s not planet B

We don’t have to be greedy pig-headed ignorants, we can be super cool, awesome badass humans instead. We just first need to kick our bad habits and take care or planet A. So I have devised a list of stuff you can do to be a super cool, awesome badass individual.

  • Do everything in your power to reduce your power bill! Save money and the planet? Touche!
  • Stop driving everywhere, burn your fat, not your gas!
  • Whitewash your rooves and your streets, black surfaces radiate heat
  • Install solar panels! Yet another way to reduce your power bill, and it’s a form of clean energy.
  • Try to eat less meat, especially beef. Most people eat more than their daily needs
  • Plant a garden! Trees, flowers, food, it all helps by reducing the amount of CO2 in the air
  • Reduce plastic and water pollution sources

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boyan slat

Boyan Slat Vs. Water Pollution

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background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”no-repeat”][et_pb_image src=”https://seareinascall.com/wp-content/uploads/boyan-lg-768.jpg&#8221; admin_label=”Image (min 1080px wide 16:9 ratio)” _builder_version=”3.14″ animation=”off” sticky=”off” border_style=”solid”]
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Most times the news is rancidly depressing, especially if you listen to the broadcasted news. I often scroll my feeds and see greed and ignorance eating up our planet without remorse. Animals poached for something as trivial as a handbag, sharks mutilated for bland soup. Petroleum sucked from and spilled into our oceans to make single-use plastics that will kill sea animals and create widespread pollution. It makes me sick to my stomach to think there can be such unabashed disrespect and greed on such a beautiful planet. Which is why I want to share a positive story with you about an amazing young mind, that of Boyan Slat and his battle against water pollution.

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Who is Boyal Slat?

According to Wikipedia Boyan Slat is 24 year old kid from the Netherlands who dropped out of aerospace engineering school. Though this may not sound impressive, what you don’t know is that this ‘kid’ has created an invention that could make an immensely positive impact on ocean pollution. In 2012 he made a speech on Tedx Talks and shortly after went viral.  About a year later he founded The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organization trying to rid the ocean of pollution. Now, in 2018, he is finally launching his invention, and so far it seems to be working as planned.

An Ingenious Creation

The Ocean Cleanup system is most simply described as a large flexible boom with a weighted skirt that reaches around 3 meters deep. The system utilizes the natural forces of the earth such as currents and wind to catch up ocean debris. The U-Shape of the system traps floating plastics in its arms. Then, every so often, a marine vessel can collect the trash. It will then be taken back to land sorted and recycled.

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In addition, to its wonderful purpose, the system works autonomously. The little power it does require is supplied by solar and natural energies. Including it’s tracking and signaling systems; both important for monitoring progress as well as warning nearby ships to its location. Eventually, Boyal Slat plans to deploy a fleet of these systems into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Round 1, Fight!

It has finally started! For years I have been hearing and following the progress of Boyan Slat, rapidly and steadily working toward launching of his Ocean Cleanup Systems. This year they have launched System 001 which was deployed in the great garbage patch on October 16th, 2018. Now, I sit on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear the results from its deployment. If the system works as designed, The Ocean Cleanup estimates that they could clean up 50% of the great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 short years!

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The impact that such a feat would have on the health on our marine environment is immense. It would decrease animal deaths and increase species population. It would reduce debris, it would reduce toxin levels and so much more. For a time we were innocently ignorant of the problems we were creating through our consumerism. Now, most are just ignorant, ignoring and disregarding something so obviously vital for the temporary ease of plastics. I am just glad there are people like Boyan Slat and The Ocean Cleanup who have the mind and power to do more than their part.

Help A Guy Out

I don’t know about you, but the ocean is definitely very important to me. Not because it supplies food and jobs for millions of people, but for what dwells within. As a diver, I spend countless hours interacting with the ocean environment and it has become a vital part of who I am. To see the health of the oceans bolster and begin rejuvenating after years of heart staking damage is with all I can give. If you, like myself, would like to the support the cause you can donate directly from their webpage. Or you can always share and spread the word. And perhaps most importantly, you should strive to be and more responsible consumer.

The pictures used in this article belong to TheOceanCleanup.com and BoyanSlat.com 

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Follow Me

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_social_media_follow _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”rgba(15,15,15,0)” text_orientation=”center”][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”instagram” url=”https://www.instagram.com/seareinascall/&#8221; _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”#078773″ border_radii=”on|3px|3px|3px|3px” border_color_all=”#078773″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”] instagram [/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”facebook” url=”https://www.facebook.com/SeaReinasCall/&#8221; _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”#078773″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”] facebook [/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”twitter” url=”https://twitter.com/SeaReinas_Call&#8221; _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”#078773″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”] twitter [/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”youtube” url=”https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFgrcUN1Xa8-B_zlRtEcrNg&#8221; _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”#078773″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”] youtube [/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”pinterest” url=”https://www.pinterest.com/seareinascall/&#8221; _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”#078773″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”] Pinterest [/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][/et_pb_social_media_follow][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text (author bio)” _builder_version=”3.14″ text_font=”Lato||||” text_text_color=”#0c0c0d” text_font_size=”16″ text_line_height=”1.4em” text_orientation=”center” module_alignment=”center” border_style=”solid”]The ocean is my biggest passion. As a SCUBA instructor I have a unique opportunity to show people exactly how precious the ocean is.  I aim to inspire others to love and respect the sea through education and diving.

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Let Others Know

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Some Other Articles you Might Like

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dive site Cleanup

Dive Site Cleanup Challenge #CleanDiveChallenge

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Ranelle’s addiction to SCUBA started in 2004. From a young age she has been fascinated by the ocean and the creatures living within it. Her Ultimate dive dream is to swim with Orcas and to dive the world. Ranelle is a certified PADI Specialty Instructor and spent 3 years in university studying Science and Biology.

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Share Away!

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The underwater world is a unique place full of color and life. It is vibrant and moving and always changing. Except that, where you would expect to see that life and beauty grow, lately, it has been diminishing. If it was a small regression you could chalk it up to being the normal pull and sway of nature. However, that isn’t the case. This decline has been an ongoing phenomenon for over 50 years. As a diver, you should feel a desire to help, or at least I hope that you do. Which is why I propose a challenge. I challenge you to a dive site cleanup.

Once you see and understand how fast the life of the ocean is being extinguished, it is impossible to ignore, nor should it be.

Our dive sites are clean

Here in Playa del Coco, our dive sites are very clean. Even so, we still find garbage and discarded fishing gear regularly. Most of the professional divers in our local area have adopted a wonderful habit of removing any water pollution they find, which is part of the reason our sites are so clean. However, I still see many people passing up trash on a dive. It is my belief that if every diver picked up a little bit of trash each time they dove, the ocean could be a much cleaner place. 

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Our Dive site Cleanup

Organized dive site cleanups are a great way to raise awareness and get a jump start on cleaning up our local areas. They can also be used to concentrate on removing trash from areas that we don’t dive in. As I said, our dive sites here are very clean, so clean, that holding a dive site cleanup at one of our regular sites wouldn’t make much of an impact. Which is why we decided to focus on an area that was popular with fishermen.

The Cleanup was hosted by Rich Coast Diving, a local dive shop on World Cleanup Day. They supplied a boat, captain, tanks and filled any extra spaces with their own staff. We were 8 divers, equipped with mesh bags and cutting tools and a passion to make a difference.

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What we found

On our first dive, we found mostly what we expected. Lots of fishing line, lead fishing weights, and hooks. Each of us came up happy campers. We genuinely enjoyed what we were doing, even if it seemed like work we all had a great time. On the surface, we picked through all of our findings so that we could recycle what we could and properly dispose of the rest.

  • A fin bag full of fishing line
  • A handful of hooks
  • Approximately 30 lbs of lead
  • A plastic pipe
  • 2 knives
  • Several other pieces of miscellaneous garbage

It was our second dive that proved to be a big surprise. I don’t think any of us suspected to find and remove what we did. We started the dive in the same location, however this time, we moved towards a nearby island that many fishermen walk out to during low tide. My buddy and I were diligently looking for garbage before I got distracted by a nudibranch. A moment later my buddy hurriedly got my attention. He had encountered a small wreck with a massive ball of line entangled around the ships decaying anchor.

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It took a bit of effort, but after signaling the other members of our group, and working together, we were able to remove the bundle from the ocean. The Bundle turned out to be mostly made up of a mass of longline. The whole things weighed over 50 pounds and we needed three people to carry it from the boat to the truck.

It’s a Worldwide Problem

Our dive site cleanup proves that no matter where you are, you can find a piece of fishing line or some kind of garbage that doesn’t belong. Plastic pollution has permeated the farthest and most uninhabited regions of our ocean. Meaning that in a place where there are many of us, I’m sure you can find a piece of trash or two. I believe that every dive should be a dive site cleanup, not just the designated dive site cleanup dives. Which is exactly why I am calling you out as a diver and creating this challenge. I challenge you to pick up that garbage and put in its place!

Every dive should be a dive site cleanup, not just the designated dive site cleanup dives #fightoceanpollution

Participating in the #CleanDiveChallenge

Being a part of this challenge is easy. All you have to do is pick up the garbage that you see while diving. Take a picture with that trash and recycle it, upcycle it, or put it in the trash bin. Then, put that picture on social media with the hashtag #CleanDiveChallenge and tag at least one dive buddy. that buddy, in turn, needs to respond to the challenge and tag another buddy. The goal is to have pristine dive sites all over the world and help make our oceans a cleaner place.

Copy paste the text below into your social media post, just don’t forget to tag a dive buddy.

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I completed the #CleanDiveChallenge and I nominate INSERT DIVE BUDDY/BUDDIES HERE
Plastic pollution is going under the radar! Awareness needs to be raised hence the making of this challenge! Anyone who doesn’t complete the challenge needs to donate to project aware at https://netdonor.net/page/17238/donate/1

At the rate we are going, in less than 30 years there will be more plastic in the ocean than there are fish. To stop this from happening we need to not only reduce plastic use but remove the trash that is already polluting our waters. Every year over 100 Million marine animals are killed by garbage in our ocean. It is time that we, as individuals, do something about it.

Learn More about the Clean Dive Challenge https://seareinascall.com/2018/09/26/dive-site-cleanup-challenge/

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Help fight plastic pollution and clean our planet.

As divers, we have a unique opportunity to make an impact. We are diving in key habitats all the time. That’s where all the cool sights are right? So, why not protect these places ourselves? Why not help the animals that we love and care about? It doesn’t take much effort from us, but it will make a big difference for the marine habitats we visit.

 

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Taking it a step further with Dive Against Debris

If you want to do a little bit more than just participate in this challenge you can always add your findings to Dive Against Debris. This program was created by Project AWARE. The idea is to participate in dive site cleanups and report your findings. They then take that information and create a map of ocean trash. The reported data is very useful and tells us where the highest concentrations of garbage are. This information can lead to trash and recycling reforms in areas where it is most crucial.

As I said before, dive sites cleanups are great, however, people go diving just for fun more often than they participate in active cleanups. You don’t need to wait for a cleanup. You can pick up trash on any dive and submit your findings to dive against debris. You can also donate to Project AWARE to help fight against ocean pollution.

Cheers to Clean Diving!

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Share Away!

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Shark Finning, Where We’re At

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Ranelle Ivens

SITE AUTHOR

Ranelle’s addiction to SCUBA started in 2004. From a young age she has been fascinated by the ocean and the creatures living within it. Her Ultimate dive dream is to swim with Orcas and to dive the world. Ranelle is a certified PADI Specialty Instructor and spent 3 years in university studying Science and Biology. [supsystic-social-sharing id=’2′] [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”2_3″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.92″]

Shark finning has been an on going practice for hundreds of years, dating back to the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century. However, it has, in the last 70 years, gotten way out of hand. The shark fin trade hit its peak in the year 2000 and has been declining slowly since then. The biggest problem with the practice is that sharks, a key component to the health of our oceans, have become critically endangered.

What is Shark Finning

Shark finning is a barbaric practice that involves removing only the fins of a shark and then dumping it back into the ocean, usually still alive. In recent years laws have been made against these techniques, dictating that the shark must still be attached. Unfortunately, without proper enforcement and amendments shark fisherman are finding loopholes, or in some cases completely disregarding these laws.

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How much shark are we talking?

In the early 2000’s reported shark catch weighed in at over 750 000 tons. In more recent years the number has dropped as low as 600 000 tons (read more in these numbers here). Though I would love to be excited about these reductions in numbers it is still very unclear what has caused them.

A few examples include:

  • Reduction in shark populations
  • finding loopholes that allow fiishermen to remove more of the sharks whole weight at sea
  • An increase in unreported shark catch
  • Improper species identification

To give you a better idea of how many sharks are being taking out of our  oceans every year you need to think about the whole picture. As you many have already realized, not all shark catch is reported. Due to the grotesque nature, and high demand for shark fins there are many sharks being sold on the black market. In addition to this tons of sharks and are also killed as by-catch. By-catch is defined as animals caught unintentionally and discarded dead at sea. This is typical of trollers, net fishing, and a variety of other unsustainable fishing practices.

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This photo was taken from Shark Defenders, follow the link to read more about exposure on illegal fin markets.

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If sharks are endangered why are they being hunted?

This is probably one of the most frustrating questions to answer. I wish that s any animal was listed as endangered that we would automatically protect it. Sadly, we do not yet live in such a world. Like many other endangered animals sharks are wanted for a specific body part, which is why shark finning is a problem. It is also very difficult to regulate every boat out on the open ocean. Enforcement of laws is a component to conservation that we are sorely in need of. Even sharks listed in CITES (international treaty agreement banning/regulation the amount caught of the defined species) are still being slaughtered regularly for their fins.

In a recent study scientists purchased trimmings from shark fin vendors and proceeded to identify the sharks based on DNA. The fins were purchased from legal markets of Hong Kong (allegedly the number one buyer of legal shark fins). However, after results came back it was the fins were found to be primarily harvested from sharks protected under CITES.

The Conclusion

Though reported sharks fished is dropping we need to keep pushing, we need to work harder to protect the sharks. The people at CITES have added a handful of new shark species to the appendix, but now we need to enforce their protection. Especially since most shark finning is done illegally. The amount of sharks removed each year has yet to lower to sustainable  levels.

Global awareness of the shark finning trade is rising. Slowly but surely more and more people are starting to fight for these beautiful creatures but it is not yet enough. People like Shark Girl Madison and the Nakawe project are working hard to make things right but they need our help. Though it doesn’t always seem like it, its everyday people that make the most impact. It is with your support we can push our governments to better regulate the fish trade and protect sharks.

How can you help the sharks?

  • Buy responsibly, make sure that the products you are buying do not contain shark meat. Be specially wary of fish oils and canned fish.
  • Sign these petitions to ban the shark fin trade from North America
  • Say NO to shark fin soup and shark steaks
  • Support conservation efforts and Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s)
  • Reduce plastic use and other sources of pollution
  • Educate yourself and others on sharks
  • Take the Shark AWARE course (Book through me or your local dive shop to learn even more about sharks also available to non-divers)

 

 

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If we Save the Whales we Can Bring Back the Ocean

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Though many people may have told you to save the whales, but has any one told you to save the whales because they are hard workers? Whales are the biggest living animals on the planet, and there’s a reason for it. It isn’t just because they eat tonnes of food, nor that they’ve been around so long. Whales are big because they carry a huge responsibility. The health of the oceans rests heavily upon their backs.

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What responsibility could whales possibly have?

Being a whale probably sounds pretty easy, you are a huge animal with little to no predators who swims around the world and eats all day. While traveling and eating lots of food is a dream most of us strive to achieve, we also know that we have to work for it. So how do they pull it off? Whales are giant fertilizing machines.

If whales are removed from the ocean, the waters would become more stagnant and eventually little to nothing would be able to grow. Sea plant life is heavily dependent on nutrients that, in surface waters, tend to be scarce. But don’t worry, whales are able to propagate and share these with the rest of the seas.

How do whales fertilize the ocean?

Just like on land, when plants and animals die they go back into the earth, are decomposed, and become nutrients to be consumed by plants. Except for the ocean is really deep… Where it’s deep it is dark, and as we all learnt in 2nd grade science class, plants need light to do photosynthesis. Put simply, the bottom of the ocean is a treasure trove of untouched nutrients that aren’t being harvested.

This is where the whales come in. These peaceful giants swoop down in to the deep ocean and feed on deep dwelling organisms. On their way back up their large powerful bodies stir up the waters bringing nutrients up to the shallows. Not only do they stir up the water they share the goodies that they’ve eaten. How might you ask? The answer is by poopin’ and peein’ all over the place.

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Whale tail spotted in Catalina islands in Costa Rica on a beautiful March

Image Credit goes to my friend/student Nathan Mobach author of Sir Handsome Hank a DiveMaster Blog. 

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You’ve got to be Shitting me….

Nope, a whales job is to eat lots of food and create giant messy clouds of feces. Ocean plants find it most difficult to acquire two things: iron and nitrogen. Animals such as krill (a favorite among many whales) are high in Iron. Especially when you consume up to 2 tonnes of them a day. Whales, though very large, do not require all of the iron they consume and therefore share the excess by passing it through the other  end.

Despite passing the whales rear the plants still enjoy the iron. They are  able to absorb this iron which in turn allows them to grow providing more food for the krill. If you think back and remember how the predator prey cycle works, you will know that more krill means that the  whale population can increase. What’s odd, is that this nutrient cycle is a positive feedback loop which benefits all parties involved. This means that krill populations will not decrease with more whales, rather it will increase.

And what about that nitrogen?

Whale pee. These big fellas whizz out lots and lots of nitrogen another plant favourite. The reason for that is again due to deep dwelling animals. At the bottom of the ocean there’s lots of nitrogen which is absorbed by the local inhabitants. Those locals get gobbled up by whales and taken to the surface to be excreted and used as plant fertilizer.

That’s so cool! Good thing there is a lot of krill!

Wrong. The oceans krill are dying. First there was a huge decrease in whale populations which also decreased krill populations. Then to follow that up there had been a rapid change in ocean climate due to the melting of the polar ice caps. The increase of fresh water has made the ocean less salty while changing water temperatures everywhere. In warmer climates the water is becoming colder and the coldest parts of the ocean are warming up. Then you add a drop in the purity of the water due to oils, detergents, and chemicals, add a few million tonnes of plastic pollution every year ad you’ve got a big problem.

Some super cool scientists decided to research the krill and found out that the more polluted the water became, and the more the temperatures changed, the harder it became for the krill to adapt. It was also found that surviving krill had to eat more, and their bodies had to work harder to survive. This cause the krill to become less nutritious, meaning less nitrogen and iron for the whales and the plants the krill feed upon. This could lead to a very vicious cycle of

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Whale surfacing for a breath of fresh air, and exercising that blowhole. This while came very close to our boat along with another adult whale and calf. Talk about a lucky day!

Photo taken by Ranelle Ivens author of SeaReina’s Call

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SAVE THE WHALES!

Yes, save the whales indeed. Luckily, we have made some big improvements to protect these magnificent giants. In fact, there are even some populations on the rise such as the blue whale, bowhead whale, and humpbacks. So, at the very least, we are doing something right! However, in many countries including the USA and Canada Whaling is still legal, and whales still face many threats. These include climate change, plastic waste, and water pollution.

How to help

  • Avoid products containing whale (lamp oil, some soaps and cosmentics, tennis rackets, cooking oils etc.)
  • Stop using single use plastics
  • Recycle more
  • Avoid harsh chemicals and cleaners in your home
  • Tell your local government/politicians to make whaling illegal you can also ask them to take further steps to help save the whales such as banning whale products
  • Educate yourself and others on whales
  • Donate to organizations that will help save the whales and the ocean!

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Ranelle’s addiction to SCUBA started in 2004. From a young age she has been fascinated by the ocean and the creatures living within it. Her Ultimate dive dream is to swim with Orcas and to dive the world. Ranelle is a certified PADI Specialty Instructor and spent 3 years in university studying Science and Biology.

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water pollution

Are You one of the Sources of Water Pollution?

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One of the most important resources in the world is water. Without it, life would not be sustainable, Earth would have no plants, no animals and therefore no us. Every day, we are supposed to drink eight glasses of the stuff, we use it to clean, to cook, to water plants, to create energy and more. The effects of water pollution are so influence entire planet. So, why we aren’t trying harder to reduce the sources of water pollution?

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Sources of Water Pollution

The number one source of water pollution is humans. Plain and simple, we create so much useless garbage and trash and chemicals, that we don’t even know what to do with it all. and instead of using anything more than once we just throw things away and replace them with new ones.

Plastic

Of the 300 million tonnes of plastic made every year , around half is for single use items. This includes one of the most useless inventions, but also a very popular invention, the straw. Why do we need them? What is wrong with the side of the glass? You may argue, ‘I don’t want to put my lips on it’, but if you wouldn’t put your lips on it why would you drink out if it? However, it isn’t just straws, it’s plastic bags, disposable plates, and cups and cutlery, and plastic bottles and the list just doesn’t stop.

The amount of pollution that goes into our waterways and oceans each year is terrifying. Oil, plastic, gasoline, garbage, and detergents are just a few examples. Plastics can take more than 450 years to decompose, they also hurt and entangle animals on a regular basis. Oils, detergents, and gasoline are toxic to animals, can kill them, and destroys habitats and ecosystems. Millions of marine animals die every year due to pollution, including seabirds, fish, sea mammals, dolphins, and porpoises.

Chemicals

In our homes, our work places, our yards, and everywhere else we use all kinds of chemicals. Whether they be detergents for laundry of cleaners, or fertilizers, or some scary chemical like paint thinner they all eventually end up in the water systems. As we use them we don’t always think of this, it goes down the drain and then ‘bye-bye.’ We believe that those chemicals are no longer our problem, that the municipality will sort it all out and that’s that. The truth of the matter is that it is most definitely still our problem, and the municipality *let’s be honest now,) probably isn’t doing as good a job as they could or even should be.

Oil

Everyone knows that oil and water don’t mix, but that’s not stopping us from allowing oil to pollute our waters. Oils don’t just come from tanker spills and improper disposal by people and companies, they come from gasoline and exhaust fumes. Each time it rains the exhaust in the air is pushed back down to the surface and washes away to the rivers and oceans. Not to mention the soot from the vehicles that was already sticking to the roads and sidewalks.

What is an even bigger surprise, is that most of the oil found in our ocean is due to steady drips and not oil spills. This means that the boats and cars actually cause more pollution in our oceans each year than oil spills do. Oil spills, though disastrous events, are actually cleaned up to some degree, and animals affected are generally treated if possible. On the other hand, oil that continuously drips into the ocean is left to decompose on its own.

 

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The Numbers terrify me

I want to make this as plain and simple as I can because I truly want you to understand the immense size of this gargantuan problem. First off, we create approximately 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic every year. That is way more than a lot of plastic. Of that 8.3 billion tonnes we recycle a meager 9%. To be honest with you that is pathetic. I know for a fact we can do better than that. Of the other 91%, 70% goes to landfills and the remaining 21% ends up in the water.

8.3 billion tonnes guys, 8.3 BILLION TONNES of plastic. There aren’t even that many people on this planet. Think about that… That’s more than 1 ton or plastic per person…

 

*Image credit goes to the Ocean Conservancy, check them out for more information!

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What you can do

Now that we have a good idea of the sources of water pollution, we need to do what we can to help. It’s easy, you just need to change some habits.

  • Recycle!: If there’s only 9% of plastic being recycled then lets recycle more! Simple.
  • Use a water bottle: Stop buying bottled water and drinks. it not only saves plastic but also your money.
  • Keep a clean Thermos in your car: Next time you go for coffee have them fill your thermos instead of a disposable cup.
  • Say no to straws: Straws are unnecessary!  if you don’t want to drink from their glasses then maybe you should rethink where you are buying your drinks from.
  • Stop using single use plastics: having a party or bbq? Use reusable dishes instead of throw aways. Its a little extra work but its worth it!
  • Ban the Bag: start using reusable shopping bags instead of throw-away plastic ones from the store.
  • Use green cleaners: Vinegar and a light earth friendly soap will go a long way in any household.
  • Reduce transport emissions: try using public transit and carpooling more often. Or better yet walk and bike to your destination.
  • Tell your friends: encourage others to learn about the sources of water pollution and maybe they will do their part to.

It doesn’t take much

Simple changes like this can reduce the amount of plastic you use. Hopefully, the notion will catch on and eventually water pollution will be a thing of the past. Just remember that neither us nor the waters can wait for the sources of water pollution to be eliminated.

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