By Joseph Tepper
Certainly one of the most frustrating aspects of being fortunate enough to watch and capture the ocean’s glory as underwater photographers is the burden of watching its pain. On this year’s Earth Day, let’s take a look at some of the everyday steps we can take to turn the tide.
1. Join the Ocean Conservation Effort:
As obvious as it may seem, one of the simplest, strongest steps you can take is joining an environmental/ocean conservation group to stand behind. On the international, national, and local levels, these organizations have full time employees dedicated to helping the ocean; and while your busy schedule might afford little more than the occasional donation or clean-up volunteering, your voice can still be heard if you join one of these groups. So, what are you waiting for?
2. Choose your fish carefully:
It doesn’t look good- 75 percent of the world’s fish are being harvested faster than they can reproduce. Think there’s nothing you can do? Think again! Instead of completely cutting out all fish from your diet –not a bad idea with all the overfishing in the world– try sticking to sustainable fish populations for your meals. One great way to help choose what fish is best is to use the “Seafood Watch” application, which can be found on the Save Our Seas (SOS) website. You can search by the type of fish or download a simple pocket guide of which fish to eat depending on your location.
3. Write Early, Write Often:
Writing to your local legislators with your concerns about local marine ecological issues can make a difference. We are finally seeing actions from all levels of lawmakers helping to protect sharks, marine sanctuaries, and other ocean issues, but it is far from being enough. Public pressure is a powerful tool to encourage action by local and national legislators.
4. Encourage Diving:
You often hear- “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone”; but the world shouldn’t have to wait until the ocean is gone. Instead, I prefer to think that you can’t protect the ocean unless you have seen its beauty. Of course, not every one is born to be a diver. But, encouraging friends and family to try diving –even once– is a sure fire way to spark their passion for the ocean.
5. Snapshots of Another World:
As sad as it is, not everyone can be a diver. Whether land-locked or struggling to make ends meet (or simply frightened of open water) 99 percent of the world will NEVER strap a tank on their back and dive into the sport of SCUBA diving, much less spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on an underwater camera. What can you do? Well, leave only bubbles and take LOTS of photographs! No matter if it is a giant shark, colorful soft coral, or just anything with brilliantly blue water, people love pictures taken underwater. It is important that we give back to the ocean that we love to take pictures of- pictures that can transport anyone to another world and inspire action.
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