Ocean Education Questions by Students

Ocean Annie, If we could only focus on one action that would have a positive impact on the reduction of plastic pollution in our Beautiful Blue Ocean, what would it be? From Ellee

There are many different ways we can make a positive impact on the reduction of plastic pollution in our ocean. In my experience, I believe ignorance is one of the biggest problems facing our world ocean. We need to increase ocean education to combat this. Educating others about the importance of our ocean in our lives is one of the most important things we can do to help our ocean.

The ocean evokes exploration and beauty for some while fear for others. Ocean education has been underrepresented in schools and misrepresented by movies, television, and multi-media for years. People have perpetuated fear and untruths about our ocean since the beginning of time. We know more about outer space then we do about our ocean. Consider challenging your friends and family to join the 30 Day Challenge and Refuse Single Use Plastic for 30 Days #RefuseSUP.Ocean Education Reverse the Flow of Pollution More Plastic than Fish in Ocean by 2050

Life as we know it does not exist without a healthy ocean. Every breath we take connects us to the sea. 50-70% of our oxygen comes from the phytoplankton mass in our world ocean. We should be called Planet Ocean as it covers 70% of our planet and holds 98% of all of our water. Our ocean literally feeds our world, as 3 billion people on our planet rely on the protein from the sea for their existence. It is the great regulator of our planet. Through our carbon emissions we are causing ocean acidification and climate change. Plastic production contributes to both. Plastic is a miracle substance and has changed our world, just look around you and take an inventory of all the plastic in our lives. From our computers and mobile devices to our shoes and underwear, from our cars and cameras, to hoola hoops and food packaging, plastic is all around us.

Within my life there has been an explosion of single use plastic. With an increasing world population, there is an increase in plastic production. Half of plastic production is single use plastic, plastic you use once and throw away. Unfortunately it is not only thrown away into landfills, yet plastic enters our environment. Every time it rains, anything on the ground makes its way to our rivers, streams, lakes, and eventually our ocean. Everything we do on land affects our ocean.

If you can start with one thing, I would encourage you to share ocean education and positive ocean messages with others. Consider rethinking your relationship with plastic and start refusing single use plastic. #RefuseSUP We need to raise our voices together and change humanity's relationship with our ocean from dumping ground to protected ground. Every breath we take connects us to our ocean.

Thanks for your question. Think of all the ways you can include ocean education in experiences with your friends, family, and community.

We know about water bottles, straws, plastic bags...all the single use products. However, based on what you have seen as you explore the world with your radar on the problem of plastics, what change would have the greatest impact?

I believe we should ban plastic straws, bags, utensils, single use plastic drink bottles, and styrofoam food containers all around the world. We need to use biodegradable products. There are companies working on algae, mushrooms, and other compostable packaging because plastics have become so invasive to our environment. We lived without convenience plastics until fairly recently and we do not really need them in our lives. There is no pressure on any large chemical company to create a product that is biodegradable. Think of all the large convenient food/coffee places using plastic straws daily from McDonalds to Starbucks, Taco Bell to Pizza Hut. 500 million straws are used every day in America, that is 3.5 billion per week and not one of them can be recycled. Plastics are petroleum/oil based products and are invasive. Plastic straws are one of the most commonly found marine debris.

So what can we do? We need to create public awareness and ocean education around our plastic issue. Public awareness drives policy and corporate change. Without people knowing, understanding, and caring about an issue, we cannot fix it. Plastic is a people problem and only people can be the solution. This issue is affecting millions of animals in our ocean, and we need many students around the world to be the voice of the sea. We need to create a movement around ocean education and need to unite youth everywhere to be the messengers. Adult people listen to youth/students/children/teens. We need to do everything in our power to raise our voices so that others can understand the messages from our ocean.

Our ocean needs uniting. We need to protect at least 30% of our world ocean in order for her to be able to recover and reproduce. At the same time, we need to address climate change and stop ocean pollution. How can you raise your voice to share what you learn with others? How can you get your friends, family, community to understand the importance of what lies just below the surface of our sea? How can you spread ocean education and positive ocean messages with your friends in your community?

What is one of the most memorable moments you have experienced while snorkeling in the ocean? by Wesley

It is very hard to think of one memorable moment, as I feel like every single time I get in the water, it's magic! There are two experiences that truly changed my life. The first was when I was on a boat in the Galapagos, and a humpback whale was spotted. The Captain stopped the ship and allowed all of us to go into the water with our mask, snorkel and fins  in the hopes that the humpback whale would be curious and approach us. As I lay on the surface of the water in about a three-foot swell, a humpback calf swam right past me with a dozen dolphins cruising along, some riding the wave of pressure created by the humpback whales body. I will never ever forget this as it was my very first encounter with a baby humpback whale while I was in the water.

The second experience was in Palau, a chain of islands in Micronesia. They are called rock islands, yet are made of limestone and were once coral reefs. There is a marine lake called Jellyfish Lake where you snorkel with thousands of jellies that do not sting your body. The jellies in Jellyfish Lake in Palau are very special jellies as they have a symbiotic relationship with an algae living inside. The algae provide food for the jellies through the process of photosynthesis and the jellies transport the algae by following the sun. In science we call this mutually beneficial commensalism because they both benefit from the relationship. In the San Juan Islands and throughout the Pacific Northwest, you do not touch jellies even if they are dead on a beach because they have stinging cells to protect themselves and to sting their prey/food.

Thanks for asking! You can scenes from both of these locations in Blue Heart Ocean Soul!

What was it like the first time you swam with sharks?

Sharks Scuba Diving Maldives Diving You have stumped me. The first time I went scuba diving was in Western Australia. The very first breaths I took, I looked at my instructor and thought, ‘I could do your job and travel the world.’ I graduated from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and saved my money for a year working three different jobs. My goal was to travel as a journalist exploring our world and my first stop was Australia. I was walking down the street and saw a sign, learn to scuba dive. I had been on swim team from the age of 10 but had never ever tried scuba diving. So I thought, what the heck, let’s go for it. The very first breaths I took, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, be an underwater photographer and scuba diving instructor. I was absolutely hooked. I went diving in and around the temperate waters of Western Australia  and I dived in kelp forests. One of my next stops in Australia took me to Airlie Beach in Queensland, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. I still remember my first dive there. I went with Emma, the Dive Master/Chef on the boat Romance. We were on Bait Reef and within the first 50 feet we passed a garden of Electric Blue Staghorn coral and every color of the rainbow filled my eyes. I could not believe what I was witnessing/seeing underwater living on the coral reefs. Scuba diving allows us to see the most magical place on the planet and to be a deep sea diver experiencing what others only can imagine…my life changed forever. On one of my next dives, I was with my buddy Bob doing my advanced course, we were in a current and doing a drift dive. As we came around a corner, I nearly flipped (and probably did) as there was a fish as big as me hiding behind a reef wall from the current. It was called a Maori wrasse and was the biggest fish I had ever seen. I know we saw reef sharks as well, but seeing sharks for the first time did not have as great of an impact as simply breathing underwater. Just blowing bubbles from my regulator in a swimming pool was one of the greatest experiences of my life. When I was introduced to the rainbow sea on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, I knew my life forever changed.

I have dived with sharks all around the world. Schooling hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, nurse sharks, zebra sharks, white tipped, black tipped, grey reef, oceanic, great whites, tiger sharks, walking sharks, and more. I absolutely LOVE diving with sharks and rays. They are so important to the balance of our world ocean, it is a crime what people are doing to them. Scientists predict people are taking 100 million sharks out of our world ocean every year, in many cases in inhumane ways. Our world ocean cannot sustain this type of abuse by people. We must raise our voices and share. It is very challenging though because of the fear perpetuated by the media in regards to sharks. Just 2 days ago, I went to the Amazon Book Store at U-Village. There was a giant television screen in which kids were playing a video game that if you hit a jellie you die and if you eat a human being you get 1000 points. Sharks are not human killers. People are shark killers. Fear based media sells more than positive/educational media. I get really sad when I think about what people are doing to sharks and rays around the world. There is so much we still do not know about our ocean and I hope that we can start living at one with the sea before it is too late.

Scientists believe we need to protect 30% of our ocean from people in marine protected areas. In addition we need to address the wicked problems of climate change, over-fishing, and ocean pollution. Sharks give so much to the imagination, please learn everything you can about sharks and how important our ocean is to our planet so that we start caring and protecting her.

Thanks for your questions and listening to my thoughts. Please share, comment, and keep asking questions. We all need to work together and be the voice for our ocean and increase ocean education for all! #LoveOurOcean

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