By: James McMullin

How do you feel?

I know it is a bit past the new year, but how many of us kept up on our new year resolutions? I know I haven’t; my eating habits have been better but not pristine and I don’t have the six pack my wife would like to see but that’s her resolution for me. One thing I can say is my promise to do my part in protecting our underwater world and leading by example has and will always be a priority.

The new year always brings new promises that people break including me.

For scuba divers, each year, the new year provides us the perfect opportunity to renew our commitment and love for our ocean as we give back by protecting what we love. Divers are 1% of the world’s population and are struggling to keep our oceans from the destruction of mankind. How many times have you tossed a wrapper on the floor or missed the trash can pretending to be Michael Jordan making a 3-point shot and left it for the wind to carry it into our system and out to the ocean?

Divers come together and give back. We participate in beach cleanups and ocean cleanups; check out Catalina Cleanup 2018 for an example. We all have a part in the ecosystem, including non-divers. If you calculate how many divers come together to protect our ocean and planet, we aren’t making a dent; we bring up bags upon bags of trash that affect our ecosystem and wildlife. Over the years, we have made a minute impact on cleaning up and helping to protect the world we live in.  When I began diving, the underwater world was full of color and life. Over the past 20 plus years, it has depleted so much that I can see the difference. I can see how much we all have damaged this beautiful place. Remember, it isn’t just the divers’ responsibility, it is every person’s. We all live here and need to do our part in protecting this place we call home.

Here are a few ways we can do our part in protecting our home, our oceans, and our planet.

Get Involved:  Participate in events such as beach cleanups, sign petitions, and vote and support legislators and laws that protect the ocean and the environment.

Talk with People About Ocean Conservation and Spread the Word: One person can make a difference. The change in one person’s thinking means if they see trash on the floor, they pick it up. I’m sure there is a trash can within 20 feet of where the trash was picked up from. I want you to think how much greater an impact you’ll have if you recruit friends and family to the cause. Spread the word about the issues and use social media to raise awareness.

Use More Earth Friendly Products in Garden and Homes: Chemicals and household cleaners can find their way into water sources and eventually into our oceans, moving through the food chain and causing animals to get sick. Purchase organic when possible and limit chemicals in personal use. Sweep your driveway instead of watering it; this will eliminate oil and other residues from entering into storm drains and straight into the ocean.

Be Considerate of Marine Life: Marine habitats are yours to enjoy through tide pooling, diving, and other activities. However, don’t touch corals or remove any animals from their habitats. Never feed wild animals and be aware of laws protecting animals. Be aware of your surroundings wherever you walk or swim.  Don’t buy products that are exploiting marine life such as corals or seashells and use products like sunscreen that are eco-friendly.

Dispose of Waste in a Proper Legal Way: Harmful waste like oils from a lawnmower or old gas from a sitting vehicle can end up in the ocean when not properly disposed of. These can and will destroy the health of the ocean. Change your habits to recycle and reuse whenever possible and dispose of hazardous products properly. Never pour them down the drain or in the toilet. Grease, food waste, and trash in drains and garbage disposals can cause blockages in our water treatment system. Just ask my wife, she works for the water quality department and tells me the horror stories. This can create sewage overflow into the ocean. Dispose of hazardous waste in a drop-off site; never pour it into sewers or storm drains.

Keep Our Beaches and Waterways Clean: All waterways lead to our beautiful oceans. Almost all marine debris originates on land via us. Even if you live far from the ocean, trash from your area can end up in the ocean because it washes downstream with rivers, sewers, wind, and other avenues. So, help out by joining beach or waterway cleanups and never litter. Make sure to pick up after your pet be a responsible pet owner and a good steward and protect our home.

In Open Water: When boating, be very careful where you anchor. Anchors can scar reefs and rip out and damage shelter for marine life.

One of my greatest admires, Jacques Cousteau I, said that the oceans were sick but they’re not going to die. There is no death possible in the oceans; there will always be life but they’re getting sicker every year.

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