An easy how-to to save the big blue
by Marina Giannitsos
The majestic blue whale is at less than one per cent of its original numbers. The western Pacific grey whale is almost extinct, with just over 100 remaining. Not to be cliché or anything, but we do have to “save the whales.”
Maybe a lot of us associate this phrase with images of long-haired, animal-loving hippies, peacefully protesting in the 1970s, when the plight of marine mammals first came into the public eye.
Or maybe images of more drastic movements, such as the first direct anti-whaling campaign by Greenpeace, spent fighting off Russian whaling boats in the ice-cold waters of the northern Pacific. Regardless, not many of us can relate to the phrase, since we live in landlocked Calgary.In a place where the ocean is very “out of sight, out of mind” many people may be asking, why should I care? Or even, what could I possibly do to make a difference from here?
But it’s no longer just about “saving the whales,” it’s about protecting Earth’s largest ecosystems, oceans and all the sea life that comes with them, from issues such as pollution, over-fishing and slaughter.
According to Greenpeace, plastics dumped in the ocean, and the toxins that are released from them, affect at least 267 species, especially marine birds, seals, whales, jellyfish and sea turtles.
The BP disaster last year is recorded as the largest oil spill of all time, with over 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the ocean, causing the death of over 3,000 birds, 500 sea turtles and 64 dolphins. Not to mention the financial effect on fishermen and other small businesses in the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s not about making a statement, it’s about realizing our impact as humans and trying to make a difference because the environment, whether land or sea, is connected to our lives in so many ways. After all, we eat the fish that live in the polluted waters we’ve created.
So I propose a few, easy things you can do as a Calgarian to make an impact, without any extreme life changes. Overall, it’s not hard to create change and trust me, you don’t have to become a vegetarian to do it. Just be aware and care!
Do some easy research
Check out the seafood guide on seachoice.org to learn about what kinds of fish are okay to eat and which kinds should be avoided, due to problems such as endangerment and high mercury levels, as in sharks and tuna, respectively.Next time you rent a movie and want to try something different than the usual comedy or drama, try checking out some awesome documentaries on ocean life such as the Blue Planet series.
Or for those who want to know more about the issues try The Cove, Sharkwater or The End of the Line. Keep an eye out for the upcoming Ocean Awareness Week running March 20 to 25. There will be activities and informative displays all week long around campus from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
There will also be screenings for some of the already mentioned documentaries, as well as information series about the garbage island in the Pacific or mammal slaughter.
March 23 is World Water Day. At the end of the week, there will be a party at the Lib.
The United Nations estimates that almost 80 per cent of the world’s fisheries will collapse in the near future because of how unsustainable they are and how much they are overfished. So next time you plan to order fish at a restaurant or buy seafood at your grocery store, ask where the fish came from and if it was fished sustainably.
Even if they don’t know, the more awareness brought to providers, the better. When they see that their customers care where their fish comes from, they will begin to care as well. Reduce, reuse, recycle! Recycling and reducing how much garbage we throw out, not only helps the environment around us, but also helps the ocean.
So much garbage is taken out to sea that a garbage island, at least twice the size of Texas, is floating in the Pacific Ocean. Be aware of how much you drive. In a city that is so dependent on driving (75 per cent of Calgarians are car dependent according to Statistics Canada) we should be trying to reduce our trips and combining our errands into a single trip.
Spread the word
Let your friends and family know what you’ve learned and that we should be just as aware of what is happening on the coast, as we are about what is happening to the environment in our own province. These issues are worldwide.