5 Easy Ways to Give Back to Animals on World Ocean Day
In elementary school, I was in awe after learning that nearly 70% of the human body and the surface of the earth was water. It was mind-boggling to know that seemingly two solid bodies had so much liquid and that the percentages of water content in both bodies were close in number. Even without knowing scientific details about the earth and the human body, I still felt like there was a mysterious connection between them and now I want to help everyone celebrate World Ocean Day by raising awareness about some important issues.
Indeed, we have a very close connection with water and many creatures that live in it; we rely on them for food, making everyday products, and companionship (if you have aquatic animals as pets). To commemorate World Ocean Day on June 8, let’s start being kind to water and all living things in it. Keep on reading for 5 ways to give on World Ocean Day.
Learn about Aquatic Creatures
I don’t know much about animals and plants that live in or near water (I am more of a dog person); the most I know are the names of some fish I eat, and that otters are super cute! I figured that, if I want to know how to be a good steward of these creatures, I should know more about them, and how to help them live better lives. Here are some things I learned:
- Tunas migrate, and they travel incredibly long distances to do so; some travel from the Gulf of Mexico to Europe to find food, and then back to the Gulf to breed (World Wildlife Foundation, 2023).
- Sea otters can stay underwater for over five minutes, and river otters can do so for eight minutes (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2021). (I didn’t even know there were sea AND river otters!)
- Seagulls can drink both fresh and saltwater; they have special glands that filter out salt through their bills (OneKind Planet, 2016).
- Starfish (their proper name is sea stars because they aren’t actually fish) can live up to 35 years, and they can have up to 40 arms (Kennedy, 2020).
- Corals are animals, and they can move. Global warming is raising the temperature of the water corals live in, causing them to expel algae from their digestive system. Algae and corals have symbiotic relationships where corals provide a home from the algae, and algae provide energy for corals (Rozul, 2023). When corals eject algae from their system, they become susceptible to starvation and diseases (Shedd Aquarium, 2021).
Be a Volunteer Steward for Ocean Protection and Studies
If you live near a body of water (be it a lake, a river, or an ocean), you can volunteer to monitor and collect data on it. You can check water quality or levels by taking photos and sending them to organizations that monitor and study water resources. These organizations have limited human resources to monitor them regularly and frequently, so data from community volunteers are vital to their work (Nelson, 2023).
Even if you don’t live near the water, you can still be an advocate and a protector of water resources by fundraising or educating others on matters that affect water resources.
2Ps in the Toilet (Not 3Ps)
My city educates residents not to flush anything down the toilet except the 3Ps: poop, pee, and (toilet) paper (City of Hamilton, 2022). If you want to go one step further in reducing water pollution, skip the third P – (toilet) paper. Flushing anything down the toilet requires water – the more you put into the toilet bowl, the more water you’ll need to empty it. Keeping the toilet paper out of the bowl will conserve the amount of water you will use, which means more money in your pocket. It will also lessen the chance of your toilet being clogged.
Reduce or Eliminate Plastic Usage
Plastic products take 20 to 500 years to degrade (Hughes, 2022). During this time, aquatic animals may be hurt or die from ingesting or being caught in plastic waste (The International Union for Conservation of Nature, 2021). One way to help these creatures would be to reduce or eliminate the usage of plastic products.
Here are some tips on eliminating plastic products from your life:
- bring reusable (non-plastic) containers to restaurants if you frequently have leftovers from your meals
- buy clothing made out of natural fiber (e.g., cotton)
- buy second-hand items (to keep products out of landfills as long as possible)
- contact your favourite companies that manufacture plastic products, and ask them to consider producing more eco-friendly ones
Purchase and Consume Sustainable Seafood Products
Conserving the environment for aquatic creatures is definitely important. It is also important to treat them with care and consume them with sustainability in mind. Pacific Whale Foundation suggests the following tips (with the acronym, TASTE) for becoming a responsible consumer:
- Try – different types of seafood (to avoid depleting specific kinds of fish)
- Ask – grocery stores how they source their seafood
- Species – be knowledgeable about different species of seafood, so you can avoid choosing the ones that are depleted
- Tag – check for tags/seals that indicate that the company catches or raises their seafood sustainably
- Eat local – local seafood uses fishing practices that are less damaging than commercially-caught seafood
Can you come up with more ideas on how to be kind to aquatic animals on World Ocean Day? Make sure to comment below and share your ideas with other readers. Also, check out some of our environmental give articles to help you become a good caretaker of aquatic animals:
City of Hamilton. (2022). Flushables.
Hughes, M. (2022, June 22). How long it takes everyday items to decompose? The Waste Management & Recycling Blog.
Kennedy, J. (2020, February 4). 12 Surprising Facts About Starfish. ThoughtCo.
Nelson, J. S. (2023). Testing the Waters. CAA Magazine, 30-31.
OneKind Planet. (2016). Seagull. Pacific Whale Foundation. (n.d.). Sustainable Seafood. https://www.pacificwhale.org/conservation/sustainable-seafood/
Rozul, D. (2023, February 27). New ASU lab to grow corals, shed light on underpinnings of coral bleaching. Arizona State University.
Shedd Aquarium. (2021, November 24). Seven Surprising Facts about Coral.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature. (2021, November). Marine plastic pollution.
U.S. Department of the Interior. (2021, September 14). 12 Facts About Otters for Sea Otter Awareness Week.
World Wildlife Foundation. (2023). Tuna.