World Oceans Day: Progress and Seafood for Thought
Posted June 8, 2011
Last Wednesday night, I attended the kick-off event for the Blue Mind Symposium in San Francisco, which brought neuroscientists, artists, architects, engineers, sailors and many others together to explore the connections between the ocean and the human mind. The goal is to tap our collective brainpower to advance stewardship of the seas.
It doesn’t take a neuroscientist to explain the deep emotional connection many of us feel to the sea. Ask any surfer, beach goer, fisherman or diver and they will talk about the calm that comes over them out on the water, or the hypnotic effect of waves crashing on the shore. The oceans are also a place where we can feel our commonality with other creatures. It’s impossible to describe the thrill of having a 30-ton gray whale power her bulk under your tiny boat in Laguna San Ignacio, lift it up a few inches, then set it delicately back down.
We celebrate those connections annually on June 8, World Oceans Day. It’s a time to be grateful for all the ocean provides, from food and jobs to clean air and the adventure of exploration. It’s also a time to take stock of marine protection efforts and give a little something back.
Around the world, people are recognizing the importance of ocean protection for our own wellbeing, and the Blue Mind Symposium is just one of a number of recent conferences that have brought leading thinkers in ocean conservation together to share ideas. Last month, the 3rd annual Blue Vision Summit in Washington, DC explored opportunities for grassroots action on ocean protection, and the 2nd International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) in Victoria, B.C. focused on worldwide advances being made toward adopting marine protected areas.
Right now, just over 1% of our oceans are protected. That means that many of the reefs, canyons and kelp forests that are such important nurseries for ocean wildlife—the Yosemites and Serengeti Planes of the sea—are vulnerable to a whole host of pressures, from climate change to habitat destruction.
Around the world, there have been major advances in ocean protection, from the 3800-square-mile marine reserve (almost twice the size of Delaware) created in Costa Rica in March to China’s first seven ocean parks, announced just last month. And, closer to home, networks of marine protected areas called for in California’s Marine Life Protection Act are in place and being monitored along half our coast. Similar networks are well on their way to completion in the other half. Community groups up and down California’s coast are enjoying these underwater parks, and pitching in to serve as citizen scientists. That’s cause for celebration, and for hope.
This World Oceans Day, you too can play your part in keeping California’s ocean healthy and thriving: click here to find a beach clean-up or other event in your area.