In April, people across the USA and the world celebrated the beauty of nature, our rivers and mountains, and wildlife. The original Earth Day was inspired by founder Gaylord Nelson, former U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the devastation of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. In that era of protests against war and social Injustice, millions rallied across the US to the first Earth Day to demand change. Rivers burning, mountains clear-cut and vanishing species enraged our citizens and they gathered en masse across the nation and demanded change. This public demonstration of love for nature led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
Forty years later the rivers are cleaner, millions of acres have been established as national parks and wilderness areas and over all the air quality has improved. But what about the other 71%? Over half our oxygen comes from the ocean. Fish feed millions and the beauty and complexity of marine life leave us in awe. Yet today, a year after the ravages in the Gulf from the BP Oil spill, 90% of large pelagic shark species are going extinct from overfishing and for their fins. Whales and seals have been hunted to a genetic bottle neck and are hunted still. The wolves of the sea, the bluefin tuna, are being fished to the vanishing point. While a thousand other insults are being inflicted on Mother Ocean, where is our outrage?
New oil wells are being considered along our coast while nuclear power plants hum along our shorelines vulnerable to Tsunami and earthquakes. Recent die-offs of sardines in southern California; emaciated and sickly sea lions along the coast, vanishing salmon and stranded leopard sharks in the San Francisco Bay are bellwethers reminding us that the ocean is sick.
The ocean needs our help.
After a week of celebrating the Earth, it’s time to celebrate our ocean with World Oceans Day. This day had been unofficially celebrated every June 8 since its original proposal in 1992 by Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008. Since then, WOD has been coordinated internationally by The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network with greater success and global participation each year. World Oceans Day is an opportunity every year to honor the world’s ocean, to celebrate the all marine life.
It’s time to motivate change and let our leaders know that marine life and ecosystem are worth protecting, and they need our protection now. This summer, celebrate World Oceans Day and tell our representatives we need a sea change. With our partners from The Ocean Project, Sea Stewards will be coordinating a World Ocean Day Celebration at Crissy Field in San Francisco on June 11. We will be celebrating all marine life, especially sharks, and motivate people to protect the ocean and ocean life we love.