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5 Reasons Why Teens Should Care About the Ocean

By Gabbie Baillargeon

Long summer days are best spent on the beach surrounded by friends splashing playfully in the clear, blue water.  At the beach, everyone is able to enjoy stunning views of the ocean and if you’re lucky maybe even spot a few dolphins. However on the car ride home, most don’t dwell on the thought the ocean might not stay that beautiful forever.  Most have heard that humans produce excess carbon dioxide, over fish, and even pollute the once untainted ocean.  These days teens are focused on the here and now, and not always what lays ahead.  Youth is the face of our society, and the driving force of change.  Here are 5 simple reasons that teens should care about the ocean:

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5. No ocean, No delicious seafood

We all like a nice flaky piece of fish, or maybe a perfectly cooked shellfish every once in a while, right? In fact, in 2009 alone Americans consumed 4.833 billion tons of seafood; that breaks down to 15.8 pounds per person. The ocean is home to all the delicious seafood that makes it to your dinner plate, but unhealthy oceans leads to less and less seafood.

 

4. Ecotourism

Eco-tourism is centered around fun and exciting nature based adventures.  Ocean eco-tourism is particularly popular because it gives people the chance to experience ocean wildlife close-up, such as diving with sharks.  Shark eco-tourism in Fiji alone yielded $42.2 million dollars in 2011.

Eco-tourism is a large contributor to the global economy, which is just another reason why it is important to protect the ocean and keep it clean.

Coral Reef, Torres Strait Islands, Australia

3. Relaxing Days at the Beach

Pollution in the form of run-off, plastic, or otherwise can result in unhealthy oceans.  For a beach-goer it may mean that their favorite beach gets closed because the pollution levels are dangerously high.  Ocean pollution is dangerous to the beach-goer because it brings disease and illness that can ruin the rest of one’s vacation.  Sandy Shores and Clear Blue Water is becoming sandy shores sprinkled with plastic and murky water that brings danger.

In California alone, 14 percent of the beaches exceeded the national BAV (Beach Action Value) safety threshold by 10-20 percent in 2013. In total, 10 percent of all U.S. beaches failed the safety test.  It may seem at this point there is no escape to the negative effects of pollution, but there is still hope for a reversal.  There are natural solutions to solve the pollution crisis.  Wetlands and Estuaries are critical to our environment because they absorb otherwise harmful substances and act as a filtering system, eventually releasing cleaner water into the ocean.  By utilizing the resources that are readily available already, it reduces the amount of harmful toxins that are released into the ocean.

 

2. Where does the excess Carbon Dioxide go?

From 2002 – 2011 26 percent of CO2 only from burning fossil fuels is absorbed by the ocean. Which is approximately 2.5 billion tons being absorbed; and one fourth of excess CO2 is taken up by the ocean. However, even the ocean has its limit.
Ocean acidification, the pH level of the ocean drops making the ocean more acidic, is having its effect on every organism in the ocean from the microscopic plankton to the massive right whale. Organisms adapt to a stable pH range so when this level changes they cannot adapt quickly enough causing a massive die off of organisms or in the case of coral reefs, the in a
bility for coral reefs to make or sustain their calcium carbonate.

 coral bleaching1. You would like to breathe, right?

Oxygen is found in the atmosphere and every human being needs it to live, it is an indispensable resource.  Most people believe that all of their oxygen comes from trees, however that is a common misconception.  The majority of oxygen is produced by the ocean, 70 percent to be exact.  Tiny microorganisms called plankton along with algae produce that Oxygen, and they do this through a process called photosynthesis.

 

Hopefully these reasons are convincing enough because otherwise the oceans are in even more trouble.  Oceans are quickly becoming more and more unhealthy due to human influence.  By checking that fish are sustainably caught, not supporting excessive burning of fossil fuels, supporting eco-tourism, and recycling plastic items teens can help make the ocean a little happier.  Teens are the largest consumer on the market, meaning that their voice matters and is heard, by purchasing items that support ocean sustainability teens ensure a healthy blue ocean for the future. If teens raise their voice and do something about the threats that the oceans face then maybe, just maybe, the oceans will be a little better off.

 

 

Gabbie is a current high school student who has always been a nature and travel enthusiast.  She has a passion for marine biology and conservation, and plans on pursuing a marine biology degree.Gabbie Baillargeon