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How the Safina Center is helping to save the seas this World Oceans Day (and every day)

Co-authored by Erica Cirino World Oceans Day is held annually on June 8. It’s a global celebration meant to inspire us to think about our appreciation of the seas, bring attention to marine issues and honor ocean conservation successes. Just last week, the Safina Center sent out an e-blast with many exciting World Oceans Week events. But besides celebrating ocean-related festivities,...

Co-authored by Erica Cirino

World Oceans Day is held annually on June 8. It’s a global celebration meant to inspire us to think about our appreciation of the seas, bring attention to marine issues and honor ocean conservation successes. Just last week, the Safina Center sent out an e-blast with many exciting World Oceans Week events. But besides celebrating ocean-related festivities, it’s important to consider the problems the oceans face, and what we should do to solve them. Today Carl has published Threats to the oceans and what we should do about them on Medium. It’s an informative read about the state of the seas.

Frasers dolphins off Domenica. May 2017. Photo by Carl Safina.

The Safina Center works every day–not only on World Oceans Day–to help conserve life in the seas (and on land and in the air). Here is a selection of work we’ve done this year to bring attention to ocean issues, and to celebrate the sea, and our statements of concern we want to send out this World Oceans Day:

Carl Safina, Founder and President of the Safina Center

“The ocean is wildlife habitat. It’s the greatest volume of space on Earth that is habitable by living things. It’s populated by creatures ranging in size from the smallest living things to the largest creatures that have ever lived—blue whales. Animal phyla found nowhere else, and communities and habitats found nowhere else, are found in the sea. I’m talking about things like coral reefs, hydrothermal vents, seagrass meadows, plankton communities. The ocean is truly awe-some. Its wondrous. It’s threatened like never before. We’re doing what we can. And every day we ask ourselves, ‘What can we do that can help a little?’ Ever ask yourself that question? Lets all of us find something we can do—and do that.”

Mayra Marino, Safina Center Business Manager

“Remind yourself everyday that fish and every animal species found in the ocean, are wildlife, too!”

  • Provided necessary and important support at the Safina Center headquarters so the whole team can do their work

Erica Cirino, Safina Center Kalpana Launchpad Fellow, Writer and Media Coordinator

“Most of us live near some source of water: oceans, rivers, lakes and streams. Yet, many people go about their days disconnected from these vital parts of our world. We pollute them and use up their resources to exhaustion so that other species–wild birds and fish and amphibians and mammals alike–can no longer rely on them. We need to start appreciating the water around us for the sake of future humans and non-humans…and for ourselves.”

Shelley Dearhart, Safina Center Sustainable Seafood Program Director

“The ocean provides. It offers for us food, jobs, recreation, beauty, air, health and medical advancements, homes to wildlife we love, and benefits we may not even be aware of yet. Our relationship with nature is no different than relationships we have with one another. When we take advantage, when we do not protect, when we constantly take without understanding the need for balance, the relationship becomes unhealthy, even toxic and ultimately will not last. We must be present in making efforts, big or small, to appreciate and protect our ocean from over-exploitation, pollution and destruction. Its easy to help – start by picking up a piece of litter everyday to dispose of properly, avoid single use plastics (water bottles/bags at the store/straws), purchase sustainably sourced seafood – make the decision today to do your part in protecting the future of our ocean. It represents your future as well.”

Chris Jordan, Safina Center Fellow

  • Produced and premiered his film Albatross at the Telluride Mountainfilm festival

Eric Gilman, Safina Center Fellow

“There is unfortunately limited understanding of the direct and collateral effects we’re having on open-ocean environments across manifestations of biodiversity, from genotypes to ecological communities within these systems. It therefore behooves us to take a precautionary approach to managing our activities that affect pelagic marine systems, which are largely out of the public’s sight and attention. One reason justifying precaution is that our activities could have profound effects on the ability of pelagic ecosystems to sustain target levels of services, such as fisheries production. The socioeconomic sustainability of open ocean fisheries and the state of these vast ecosystems are inextricably interconnected. What can you do to achieve this needed precautionary management? Push government authorities to be especially risk averse in managing industry sectors that affect open ocean environments.”

  • Continued studying and discussing the problem of unintended fish and wildlife killings by ghost nets and marine debris

Paul Greenberg, Safina Center Fellow and Writer in Residence

“Modern humans have done everything they can to throw themselves out of balance with the world’s oceans. From countless open sewers to a rising influx of plastic wastes that could eventually outpace the ocean’s ability to produce seafood we are literally excreting where we eat (to use a more genteel form of the old Yiddish expression). If we do not come to realize that the ocean is the key to our future then we as a species will in short order become a part of the past.”

Shawn Heinrichs and John Weller, Safina Center Fellows

“The oceans are the very life-support system of our earth, producing half of the oxygen we breath, regulating climate, and providing sustenance for over 2 billion people. Yet our short-sited and often reckless consumption, disposal, and energy usage choices are driving ocean ecosystems to the brink. And as these delicate system falter, we face inevitable consequences that will have devastating impacts on the health, livelihoods and food-security of billions of people, and ultimately all living beings on earth. We cannot afford to standby and let this happen. We are the last generation who have the potential to turn this around, and future generations will judge us on how we ACT. In the worlds of Dr. Seuss’s the Lorax ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.'” –Shawn Heinrichs

“There is dire reality that we must admit: the extreme overfishing; the loss of coral reefs; shark finning. bomb fishing, and mass extinction in a rapidly warming, acidic ocean, filled with plastic. But while we all must know this sad trajectory of our oceans, we must focus instead on what is being done to change our course. We must know that in October of last year, delegations from two dozen nations stood and cheered the adoption of the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area in Antarctica, the largest MPA in the world. We must know that in February of this year, communities in the Fam Islands of Raja Ampat, Indonesia stood in front of a newly constructed patrol station and dedicated the eighth MPA in Raja Ampat. We must know that all over the globe, people are working tirelessly to defend the ocean, and we must all join together to fight for our shared future.” –John Weller

Ben Mirin, Safina Center Fellow

“As stewards of the planet, the ocean is one of the greatest semblances of our collective natural heritage. We bask in its resources, and stand in awe of its beauty. In the presence of something so humbling and vast, we are wont to forget that life on planet Earth is shared, and can be no more beautiful or ugly than the sum of its parts. As stewards of the planet, we must protect the ocean, because the ocean protects us.”

Hob Osterlund, Safina Center Fellow

“Enjoy breathing? Got three quarters? Check this out: Our blessed and battered globe is nearly three-quarters ocean.  It’s not only filled with countless species of remarkable animals, it feeds countless more.  it’s also the reason we can breathe.  In fact, nearly three-quarters of the world’s oxygen comes from marine plants.  We don’t necessarily need to understand the complexities, but we do need to accept them.  We can no longer harbor the illusion that any government will shoulder the responsibility for healthy oceans.  It’s up to us.  So how about we make a pact right now, you and me, and save three quarters a day for a month, then send the total to any organization that protects oceans.  Or to a person who fights for them.  Or an animal who lives in them.  Or all of the above. Deal?”

  • Continued advocating for Laysan albatross conservation policies in Hawaii, through talks about her book Holy Moli and pushing for policies that would better protect the birds from threats, including people and feral cats
  • Continued filming and photographing Laysan albatross in Hawaii for conservation purposes

Ian Urbina, Safina Center Fellow

  • Continued research for his Outlaw Oceans project on ocean crime in Kenya and beyond

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Meet the Author

Carl Safina
Ecologist Carl Safina is author of seven books, including the best-selling “Beyond Words; What Animals Think and Feel,” and “Song for the Blue Ocean,” which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His writing has won a MacArthur “genius” prize; Pew and Guggenheim Fellowships; book awards from Lannan, Orion, and the National Academies; and the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic, and elsewhere, and he hosted the 10-part “Saving the Ocean” on PBS. Safina is founding president of The Safina Center at Stony Brook University.