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David Helvarg and Jim Toomey Tell Us What to Do

In my prior post, “When to Focus on the Half Full,” I promised to shift more of my posts from doomsday prophecies toward sharing good news. David Helvarg of Blue Frontier wrote a book dedicated to sharing just such sea. Illustrated by cartoonist Jim Toomey, it’s a terrific and humorous read entitled 50 Ways to Save the Ocean.

Read this book and you may discover that some of your behaviors are, previously unbeknownst to you, already helping the oceans and thus ocean creatures and everyone else. For example, I just learned that my make-do gravel & dirt driveway helps by allowing rainwater to soak back into the earth and reduce pollution. Who knew? Hooray for good news!

I still need to work on reducing my use of plastics, but I’m getting better thanks to having so many recycling and reuse experts in my inner circle. You too can learn lots from one of them by visiting artist Bryant Holsenbeck’s blog, The Last Straw. In it, Holsenbeck describes attempting to live a full year free of disposable plastic.

But for all of you reading countless articles and attending panel discussions without learning what you can do to help, below is a quick list of a few of Helvarg’s 50 Ways to Save the Ocean.

You must read the book for details and deeper understanding, but I just want for you to feel as hopeful and empowered as I did once I had this paperback in hand:

1. “Go to the Beach” (and “leave it as clean or cleaner than you found it”). Instead of visiting a theme park and buying tons of disposable plastic, visit the ocean and love it because as Jacques Cousteau so wisely said, “We protect what we love.”

2. “Dive responsibly.” Don’t let your boat bang against the reef. Try not to touch the coral or to mess with the animals. For an example of what not to do, please watch this hilarious yet disturbing video of a knife-wielding psycho.

3. “Be a Blue Boater” by boating thoughtfully and considerately (and then get stickers that say “I Boated.”) A few musts include making sure that you have a fuel-efficient motor that reduces exhaust emissions and also repairing your boat with non-toxic paints and using biodegradable cleaning agents.

4. “Keep Your Home Aquarium Ocean-Friendly.” Did you know that many of the tropical fish that dwell in aquariums were captured using cyanide that was sprayed into coral to stun them? There are 600,000 household saltwater aquariums in the U.S. If you are one of those households, be sure to shop for your aquatic pets and vegetation from places that only sell those that are captive-raised by aquarists.

5. “Go on a whale watching trip.” Some ocean conservationists would debate this habit, but after seeing belugas in tiny tanks in Atlanta, I understand Helvarg’s point. Little is more memorable than sighting a large marine mammal up close, but experiencing this in the wild is better for those mammals than sighting them in captivity.

6. “Visit a Tide Pool” and “learn what happens with the ocean and the shore are mixed by the tides.” And if this doesn’t sound appealing enough already, read The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch and you are likely to quit your job so that you can visit tide pools ALL the time.

7. “Take Kids Surfing or Have Them Take You.” A FUN, easy and spectacular place to learn is Ali’s Surf Camp in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. You’ll meet surfers and ocean enthusiasts from across the globe. And you might get an adorable free range canine companion for the duration of your stay.

8. “Talk about the Ocean in Your Place of Worship” because “The spiritual connection we feel with the ocean is a sacred trust.”

9. “Eat Organic and Vegetarian Foods.” Little can do more to help the oceans than switching to a diet that does not rely on chemical-dependent crops and industrial farming practices that generate mass animal waste in the form of nitrogen. This “spreads disease and smothers habitats” in coral reefs and seagrass meadows & marshes.

10. “Eat Seafood That’s Healthy and Sustainable: eating the right fish protects your health; eating the wrong fish may leave the plate empty for the next generation.” Here’s a web database that I love: Fish2Fork. Durham and NC Triangle folks, there are quite a few other area restaurants that deserve inclusion here. A couple of my favorites include Blu Seafood and Bar and Saltbox Seafood Joint.

Now, go hang ten and then eat some delicious and savory sustainable seafood.

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