What can I say that hasn’t already been said, a thousand times, and a thousand times better? I can only add my voice to the growing litany of those who are struggling to save and protect the Ocean from the ravages of ‘civilization.’ The forces that are hell-bent on destroying the planet seem beyond the reach of reasoned argument, and nearly free of regulation.
I first came under the spell of the sea as a teenager when my family moved to Cape Cod, two blocks from Nantucket Sound, in Hyannis. Depressed and alone, I found solace roaming the sandy beaches with my dog. It might not be an exaggeration to say that the Ocean saved my life.
Years later, I moved to Cape Cod with my wife and Bernese Mountain Dog, renting my parents’ house in West Barnstable. I would roam the beaches, especially Nauset Beach, by day, and play Classical music on the air by night. It was a good life.
Many years of inland living later, driven by a loathing of the seemingly endless gray of Massachusetts winter, I moved to California. Fueled by childhood fantasies of Endless California Summer, I made the break from friends and family, and headed for the Golden Coast.
My first few weeks in Pacific Grove were ecstatic. I could hear the Ocean from my little apartment, smell the intoxicating sea as I stepped out my front door and walk to Asilomar State Beach in ten minutes.
I began to study the local flora and fauna, the climate (which was miraculous after New England winter), the tides, local history, and spent many hours roaming the beaches and tide pools of Pacific Grove. The more I studied, however, the more alarmed I became. All was not well with the Ocean. Global warming, ocean acidification, “sea snot” and a toxic mixture of plastic and chemicals threatened the very life of the source of all life. I began to attend lectures and seminars on the life and health of the Ocean, and wrote a few blog posts about the alarming catastrophes threatening the sea. I began to tweet in earnest (and still do) about Ocean health.
Plastics in the Ocean
The topic I focused on was the proliferation of plastic in the Ocean. I was alarmed by the ramifications of all that plastic trash. Plastic is a petroleum-based product, which disperses toxins such as Bisphenol-A, a known carcinogen and hormone disrupter. Another harmful effect of plastics in the Ocean is the fact that as plastics break down, they make it easier and easier to be ingested by all manner of Ocean life, as far down the food chain as plankton. These toxins, in turn, end up in our food.
The evidence of the harmful effects of plastic in the Ocean is overwhelming. The question is not whether these threats to the Ocean – and to all life – are real, the real question is, do we care? What are we willing to do to save the Oceans? Are we willing to become activists in order to help slow the horrific onslaught of pollution that threatens the entire planet? What will it take?
Marine scientists are puzzled as to how to best get their message to the public about the threats to Ocean health. The one thing that is certain is that we must act. Now. Whether it be picking up trash, inland or on the beach, or refusing to use single-use plastics like cups and straws, to reducing consumption of all products, including plastics, we need to become stewards of the Earth, which bestows life upon us all. Corporations will not do it. The President will not do it. We must all do it, and hold the President and the Corporations accountable for the way in which they treat the Earth.
Paul Jimerson is an artist/photographer living in Capitola, California. He moved to the Golden State from Massachusetts four years ago to escape the biting winters. He spends most of his time photographing – and savoring – the California coast. Ocean photos on this post by Paul.