Waking Up to the Abuse of Our Oceans

Last night my eyes were opened. I attended a gala for a cause I had only recently learned about, a cause that I now count close to my heart. I learned about the atrocities that have happened to our ocean, about how polluted our world is becoming, the harmful overfishing of our oceans, and how many species of beautiful creatures essential to our ecosphere are teetering on the verge of extinction. The most beautiful and resilient message of the evening, however, was that it's not too late for our oceans. Our oceans can bounce back if we give them the attention and care that they need. Our ecosystem can repair itself if we impose more stringent laws on offshore drilling, overfishing, and crimes toward marine animals.

Oceana, an ocean-conservation group nearly half a million members strong, is fighting to save our oceans and preserve them for our future generations. I heard a lot of things last night that I didn't know much about, things that bothered me, things that I knew were wrong and that I suddenly wanted with all my heart to try to help repair. As a vegan, one of the things I was most upset by was the overfishing epidemic. Western Atlantic Bluefin tuna, for example, are nearing extinction, with their population dropping 82 percent since 1970. Many times, fish killed are thrown back overboard, for not being "big" enough. This practice is both cruel and wasteful, and rarely spoken of.

Another issue that touched my heart was the plight of sea turtles. These beautiful marine animals have been swimming in our oceans for nearly 100 million years, and only now, due to the senseless abuses of man, has their existence been challenged. Donating to help bring our sea turtles back from the endangered species list last night felt good. We can all pitch in and help our oceans, whether by participating in ocean cleanups or local fundraisers or by spreading awareness. Maybe it was the booming voice of Morgan Freeman that turned on the light bulb in my head last night. His message inspired me to the realization that if we don't first protect our ecosphere and our environment, none of the other causes that I care about will be able to move toward change. We may never live to see the days when female genital mutilation comes to an end, or when the world can celebrate the end of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

I urge all readers to realize that our ecosystem is in danger. Without water, life on our planet is no longer possible.

Please learn more at Oceana.org.