To date, mankind has discovered, named and analysed over 780 planets. Out of all of these, planet Earth is the only one known to have an ocean, accounting for 70.8% of the surface of the planet and 97.2% of it’s total known flowing water, with another 2.15% being frozen in the arctic ocean. This ocean is saline and home to over 50% of all the animal species known to man (estimated at 700,000 – 1,000,000) and accounts for both the largest (Balaenoptera musculus) and the smallest (Stygotantulus stocki). Despite this, it is estimated that up to two thirds of the species in this ocean are yet to be named and described and are for all intents and purposes still unknown to man. The ocean itself is also alive, always moving, with a heartbeat-like ebb and flow along with marine currents that act as a vessel system, transporting proteins the world over. Marine plants such as seaweed produce oxygen like all other plants, and accounts for nearly 50% of the planet’s oxygen supply. It’s water evaporates and rains down over the land which affords us the life we know as solely land based mammals.
All this taken into consideration, ocean conservation as a whole is one of the most supported conservation efforts annually, comprising of the protection of specific endangered species therein, sustainable use of it’s many resources, practises to avoid catastrophical impact such as oil spills and many more. One big issue currently affecting our oceans is the ever increasing amount of marine debris which is picked up around the coastline and transported into large debris patches in the open ocean. The debris accumulates at these points and oceanic fish, birds and mammals become entangled in or ingest this debris with lethal results.
The Ocean Cleanup is one of many projects aimed at radically decreasing the amount of marine debris in our oceans by means of arrays installed where marine debris accumulates, guiding the waste to a central point from where it is picked from the water and loaded into containers which will then be emptied by passing ships every 6 weeks. For more on this project, be sure to visit www.theoceancleanup.com.
While large projects like these are aimed at repairing the damage already done to our oceans, the annual International Coastal Cleanup aims to prevent this at the source, by removing marine debris from the shores where it first meets the ocean. Every year on the thrid weekend of September, hundreds upon thousands of people take to the coasts of their respective countries in a collective effort to clean up any and all potential marine debris in the area. As part of this noble cause, divers also take to the coastal waters to remove any lingering debris which have already been introduced to the ocean. During these events special focus is placed on areas most prone to high levels of waste such as docks and harbours. In an attempt to draw in as many volunteers as possible, the various companies sponsor parts of these events such as food parcels for volunteers as well as competitions based on amounts and types of waste removed on the day. As a result the International Coastal Cleanup has become a notable event with a very generous yield of both land based and diving volunteers doing their part for ocean conservation.
Remember that September is cleanup month, with this year’s International Coastal cleanup taking place on 20 September 2014. If you are passionate about the ocean and would like to get involved in the coastal cleanup, be sure sure visit www.cleanup-sa.co.za to see what efforts are being made in your area. Help is always welcome and you are guaranteed to have some fun in the process!