June 8th marks the annual worldwide celebration of World Oceans Day. This year, it’s also the 50th anniversary of Dr. Suess’s One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Go figure.
As boaters, we have a particular responsibility to care for our oceans. We learned when we were little to clean up after ourselves, put back when we take, and share the sandbox with others. We may have graduated to a bigger playroom, but our obligation is the same: to take care of our toys and keep it clean, so it will continue to be a fun place to play.
It goes without saying that the oceans need care, especially these days with things like–ahem–offshore drilling and other manmade effects wreaking havoc on the natural balance. It’s overwhelming to listen to NPR’s reports on the state of affairs in the Gulf, or see the sailing vessel Plastiki’s pictures of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” (By the way, the size of that monstrosity is so widely reported because scientists can’t determine what “excessive” versus “normal” levels of garbage are in our oceans. What’s wrong with this picture?)
But the marine industry, and each of us as boaters, has real opportunity to affect the state of the world’s oceans. Choosing gentle products to clean our boats, observing dumping laws for trash and waste, avoiding destructive anchoring spots such as coral reefs, and hoisting those sails for clean energy instead of burning fuel are just a few of the ways we act responsibly. First one, then two, the red fish and blue, will continue to flourish under the stewardship of seakindly sailors.
Spread the word about the international celebration of World Oceans Day to help elevate public awareness and begin to change perceptions. Take pictures–both of beauty and destruction. Go snorkeling or sailing to refocus on the stunning, intricate ecosystems you’re responsible for. Thousands of organizations are participating in World Oceans Day celebrations; here’s a list of events around the country you can check out. Then use this international holiday to clean your sailboat with sea-friendly products. Sailors for the Sea compiled this excellent list of effective homemade green cleaning products to try on your boat.
Sailors, you’ve already got a head start on the program by harnessing clean wind for your primary propulsion! It’s a small, sensible step to continue supporting the oceans with sustainable cleaning products and practices. Have a wonderful World Oceans Day, with fair winds and healthy following seas!