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THE BIGGER ISSUE

“It is that range of biodiversity that we must care for - the whole thing - rather than just one or two stars.”

Sir David Attenborough

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THE PROBLEM...

The reality is - we won't survive if this continues.

Our oceans are suffering immense and unrepairable damage from our actions. We need to find a way to work together and have the motivation to realise that we can also take action as individuals. We need to educate people who don't know, encourage people who do and correct who simply just don't care. We need to change our behaviour if we wish to keep our oceans and its' incredible ecosystem alive.

GLOBAL WARMING

"Climate change is the greatest global threat to coral reef ecosystems. Scientific evidence now clearly indicates that the Earth's atmosphere and ocean are warming, and that these changes are primarily due to greenhouse gases derived from human activities.

As temperatures rise, mass coral bleaching events and infectious disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent. Additionally, carbon dioxide absorbed into the ocean from the atmosphere has already begun to reduce calcification rates in reef-building and reef-associated organisms by altering seawater chemistry through decreases in pH. This process is called ocean acidification.

Climate change will affect coral reef ecosystems, through sea level rise, changes to the frequency and intensity of tropical storms, and altered ocean circulation patterns. When combined, all of these impacts dramatically alter ecosystem function, as well as the goods and services coral reef ecosystems provide to people around the globe.

 

National Ocean Service, 2022

OVER FISHING

"Overfishing is catching too many fish at once, so the breeding population becomes too depleted to recover. Overfishing often goes hand in hand with wasteful types of commercial fishing that haul in massive amounts of unwanted fish or other animals, which are then discarded.


As a result of prolonged and widespread overfishing, nearly a third of the world's assessed fisheries are now in deep trouble — and that's likely an underestimate, since many fisheries remain unstudied.

 

Overfishing endangers ocean ecosystems and the billions of people who rely on seafood as a key source of protein. Without sustainable management, our fisheries face collapse — and we face a food crisis."

 

Environmental Defence Fund, 2022

PLASTIC

"Overfishing is catching too many fish at once, so the breeding population becomes too depleted to recover. Overfishing often goes hand in hand with wasteful types of commercial fishing that haul in massive amounts of unwanted fish or other animals, which are then discarded.


As a result of prolonged and widespread overfishing, nearly a third of the world's assessed fisheries are now in deep trouble — and that's likely an underestimate, since many fisheries remain unstudied.

 

Overfishing endangers ocean ecosystems and the billions of people who rely on seafood as a key source of protein. Without sustainable management, our fisheries face collapse — and we face a food crisis."

 

Environmental Defence Fund, 2022

THE DARK REALITY.

Some shocking experiences from ocean enthusiasts around the world.

A few dedicated, ocean loving individuals have put their experiences down in words to explain and educate how real these issues are. If you you can relate to any of these topics or wish to voice your opinion, I strongly encourage you to speak up.

We need you.

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Nick Hulley, Underwater Photographer / Dive Instructor, Indonesia

"I've had some really incredible and beautifully life changing experiences underwater, but unfortunately it's the sad and devastating ones that seem to stick with me the most.

And the worst part is, It is all because of us - humans. 

 

While watching a Green Turtle patrol a reef in Gili Trawangan, I saw its attention turn straight to a jellyfish (their favourite food) floating in the midwater. It began swimming towards what it thought was food and what i realised was not. A plastic packet. As we both began darting towards this toxic object, luckily, I managed to grab it before the turtle did.

 

One small 'harmless' piece of our rubbish can destroy an ecosystem."

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Shari Moscoso, Marine Biology Scholar, Ocean Video Creator, Science Communicator, Indonesia

"The ocean changed my entire life and brought me back to myself as I went from corporate to professional diver and researcher. It was swimming with whale sharks, seeing nesting sea turtles, making eye contact with manta rays and hearing dolphins communicate underwater that got me to internalize: we do not live on this planet alone. 

We share it with fascinating creatures and forms of life that we so often forget about just because they stay below the surface. When we overlook a coastline, we see a beautiful ocean from above but what we forget about is all the life that’s below. 

 

We see beautiful blue water but don’t think about the manta ray, the humpback whale, or the leopard shark living their lives right down there. We are not aware enough of marine life and so we don’t see how our actions may impact it.  We don’t see the Manta Ray filter feeding on micro plastics, we don’t see the whale entangled in ghost fishing gear, we don’t see the shark sinking to the sea floor with its fins cut off. 

Closing that gap in awareness and bringing the ocean into our minds, our lives, it an important first step into the right direction.  It’s a matter of facing your fears, but let me tell you, it’s absolutely worth it.

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Ofek Liepaz, Underwater Photographer, South Africa

"For me, one glaring example of oceanic damage is the Mediterranean Sea. This enclosed body of water has been impacted by decades of human industrial activity in Europe and the Middle East, and has resulted in long coastlines that appear beautiful from above, but are very much desolate beneath the surface.

 

I always heard about the Mediterranean being polluted and overfished, but I only realised just how bad this was when I was in Tel Aviv last week. I went for a swim in the ocean and I was absolutely disgusted by the amount of micro-plastics floating around in the water. I felt dirty swimming around in water surrounded by so much pollution, and it completely deterred me from going for another swim. I have never seen such a clear image of ocean pollution in person, and I dread the thought of this becoming a reality along the coastlines of larger oceanic bodies of water around the world as the global plastic waste problem grows."

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Briana Smith, Dive Instructor / Underwater photographer, Hawaii

"One of the most heart wrenching sites I’ve encountered as an ocean enthusiast is the amount of micro plastics on east facing beaches in Kauai.  It was my first time walking along Larson’s beach and plastic fragments stretched out for a mile.  From the shoreline to the trees.  I saw two endangered monk seals laying amongst the debris and my mind was flooded with the thought of images I’ve seen of deceased marine life having plastics cut out of them.  Seeing these millions of pieces of micro plastics scared me knowing they are a threat to our ocean inhabitants.  

 

The dark side of human consumerism and waste threw me into action and I started picking up the pieces.  I took these pieces and started creating marine debris mosaics to spread awareness about the threat our oceans face.  It still haunts me knowing that picking up the pieces won’t stop the issue unless we implement change! We must cut off plastic pollution from the source which starts with the companies producing and selling it.  My role as an eco artist is to spread awareness about the issue by helping with educational outreach for youth to help the voiceless animals threatened by marine debris."

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James Patterson, Dive Instructor, Mozambique

The most stark reminder I ever had of the impact we are having on our world's reefs was while snorkeling in the Similan Islands, an offshore archipelago in western Thailand, around 8 years after I had first explored the same reefs. My first thought when I put my head back underwater in this beautiful and remote place was how much less life there to see down there and my instant conclusion was that the 10 year old me that had been mind blown by these reefs 8 years earlier had just painted an overexagerated picture of what it was truly like, as kids sometimes do.

 

Fortunately, on that first visit as a child I happened to have an underwater camera with me and after digging out the old photos I was pleasantly surprised but simultaneously horrified by how wrong my initial conclusion was. On that first trip I took as a child we DID see sharks, we DID see coral reefs that were healthy and full of life. The beautiful picture my 10 year old self had painted of this place was not fiction by any means, but 8 years on, it may as well have been.

 

The waters surrounding the Similan Islands are still considered a world class destination for diving. But the idea that an ocean obsessed kid like me, too young to reach the depths at which the reef has not been damaged to the same extent, will not be able to experience the sense of awe that has stuck with me to this day 17 years later from this place, is truly sad.

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Björn du Toit, Dive Instructor / Digital Artist, South Africa

Back in 2019 I had the opportunity to do my instructor's course on a small island in The Philippines called Malapascua. It's about 2.5 kilometers long and .5 kilometers wide. There are some beautiful diving sites nearby like the famous Monad Shoal where Thresher Sharks come every day to get cleaned. There are also amazing coral reefs surrounding the island. Unfortunately, alongside all the sea life there is always the presence of plastic. Used bottles, crisps and sweets packets, wrapping from toiletries, and plastic bags are common regardless of which dive site you visit. Even the cleaning station, which sits about 30 minutes away from the island by boat, has different kinds of trash floating around or stuck on coral. It's mind-blowing that no matter how far you travel or how deep you dive, you will still see the effects of humans' attachment to plastic.

 

But I'm hopeful that we can change our habits in order to protect and re-establish a lot of the wild places above and below the water.

Blue Water
“I had fought on behalf of man against the sea, but I realised that it had become more urgent to fight on behalf of the sea against men."

Alain Bombard

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