Poaching, illegal wildlife trade
Micro-plastics, bycatch and overfishing present some of the biggest threats the Ocean is facing today. Whilst marine species are having to adapt to ever changing climates and subsequently damaged ecosystems, it is important not to get tangled up in the big wide net of negativity, but instead, analyse, understand and adjust our habits in order to help.
Unfortunately, it seems that on the whole, the Ocean is taken for granted and often seen as nothing more than an accessory to the perfect holiday photo.
If asked how many oceans there are in the world, would you know the answer is 5? If so, can you name them? With the Earths surface comprising of approximately 71%, this should surely be common knowledge right?
The five Oceans remain; Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, Arctic and Southern.
Now, if you were asked why the Ocean is important, what would your answer be?
Yes, you would be correct if you answered that the Ocean provides the fish that we eat.
As would you be if your answer focused around how the Ocean is a means of transport and trade around the world, but these reasons are just the tip of the iceberg.
So let’s get specific! (not pacific)
First and foremost the Ocean provides over half the world’s oxygen, doing so through Phytoplankton, kelp and algal plankton that inhabit its waters.
These marine plants produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis, in a similar fashion as earth grown plants. This process converts carbon dioxide and sunlight into sugars the organism uses for energy.
Subsequently, the Ocean stores around 20% of the worlds carbon dioxide, in turn, creating a more breathable environment for us humans.
Not only does the Ocean play a crucial role in global warming, it essentially regulates the world’s climate and weather patterns by transporting heat from the equator to the poles.
In just a brief analysis, it becomes clear that the Ocean is significant for the survival of planet earth and certainly deserving of the title ‘The lifeblood of the world’.
Diving deeper into the underwater ecosystem reveals more wonder.
Many medicinal products originate from coral reefs and animals of the sea, the Caribbean sea sponge ‘Tectitethya crypta’ is known to possess the very chemical properties used for a number of anti-viral and anti cancer medicines.
Minerals such as salt, copper and iron used for everyday purposes such as cooking and building are often extracted from the deep ocean seabed’s.
Not forgetting the infamous pearl, solely produced within the soft tissue of an oyster!
food s=chain shark finning/ overfishing/bycatch
plastic pollution in our diets.
You don’t have to sign up to a volunteer programme or work directly within the field of conservation to have an impact. Many of the ways in which you can contribute to a sustainable planet can be found right on your doorstep.
Let’s take diet for example, scientists have suggested that if you reduce your red meat consumption by one day a week, it is the equivalent of taking your car off the road for a whole month.
Now, you may be thinking ‘what on earth has eating meat got to do with driving your car?’
Well, as it stands, methane gas produced by livestock around the world, contributes the second highest percentage of greenhouse gas emissions affecting climate change.
With Carbon dioxide emitting around 76%, Methane still accumulates a detrimental 16%, the remaining 8% consisting of Nitrous oxide and Fluorinated gases.
So, trying a simple ‘meat free Monday’, will not only save you a bit of money, but you’ll be able to try new recipes, whilst keeping your dietary preferences and ultimately, reduce your carbon footprint.
On the other hand, you have the option of embracing a meat free diet in veganism or vegetarianism. There are of course other options to consider, but for the sake of demonstrating difference, it is best to compare these choices.
Though these diets are the most efficient in terms of reducing your meat and dairy consumption, it is important to appreciate that they too, fall short to certain socioeconomic and environmental challenges.
Let’s use quinoa for the first example, a grain crop, high in protein and fibre. First domesticated in the Peruvian Andes, quinoa quickly became a popular alternative to meat for the western consumer.
However, with exponential demand, quinoa has created somewhat of a socioeconomic problem for native farmers. With such a high value in the international market, many farmers now prefer to sell it and instead buy cheaper, less nutritious food for themselves.
To add to this, the growing commercial quinoa cultivation within Europe is leading to land degradation caused by intensified production of quinoa.
Using asparagus as the second example, a super vegetable, high in vitamins A,C, E and K, chromium and fibre.
In 2017, the national resources defense council (NRDC) released it’s report on foods with the most significant impact on climate change.
Surprisingly, asparagus came in ahead of pork, veal, chicken and turkey, mostly due to to amount if air miles it takes to transport the commodity internationally.
Now, at this point you’re probably thinking you may as well just starve yourself because it appears that you can’t eat anything without affecting the planet and in most cases, the later is true.
However, I believe it is necessary for all eating parties to simply become more aware of where our food comes from and what the further implications of our choices are, in order to become a more sustainable and conscientious consumer.
Choosing to eat foods from local produce and organic vendors is a great way to do this as you’ll be putting back into your local community at the same time as, you guessed it, reducing your carbon footprint.
The point is that there isn’t a perfect diet to save the planet, but it is well within our choices to select and understand how we can help, relative to our personal needs.
But who knows, if we really do fall on hard times in the future, we may have to resort to a diet of insects, as sampled by myself in Mexico’s food capital, Oaxaca.
Anthropology, what we can learn from other cultures, agriculture and animism, different belief systems, perspectives.
In order to gain a sound understanding of the ways in which we can help declining species around the world, it is beneficial to understand the relationships past and present societies have with the natural world.
Currently, some of the more challenging aspects in conservation can only be resolved through working with the communities that live side by side with endangered species.
However, with socioeconomic variables, language barriers and a general lack of understanding between cultures, this task is proving to be an ever increasing task.
With a large proportion of traditional societies still living through a belief system derived through nature, it requires an anthropological approach as well as governmental agreement to introduce sanctions and laws on hunting for example.
Media representations of dangerous animals.
next time you’re sitting on the tube flicking through the paper, reading about a child who’s been snapped up by an alligator in north america or a surfer off the coast of australia losing a leg to a great white shark, try t put yourselves in the shoes of the poor animal, now being hunted, along ith the rest of their family as justics, for merely doing what comes natural to them…
Endangered species, IUCN, dedicating page to beautiful snaps
Insects are important too, ecosystems, variation, alien in films too alike humans, compared to diversity of species on earth
‘‘Surfing the sands of Cerro Negro’’
‘‘The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?’’
Sir David Attenborough
‘‘We find animals doing things that we, in our arrogance, used to think was “just human”.
‘‘I have no fear of losing my life - if I have to save a koala or a crocodile or a kangaroo or a snake, mate, I will save it’’.
‘‘I don't care what town you're born in, what city, what country. If you're a child, you are curious about your environment. You're overturning rocks. You're plucking leaves off of trees and petals off of flowers, looking inside, and you're doing things that create disorder in the lives of the adults around you’’.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change’’.
‘‘In all works on Natural History, we constantly find details of the marvellous adaptation of animals to their food, their habits, and the localities in which they are found’’.
Alfred Russel Wallace
biodiversity, EU and leading countries, self sufficient and energy.
On the morning of April 9th 2018, I found myself nearly three months into my Central American backpacking trip, I awoke to my last day on the ‘Rich Coast’, in the modest village of Nosara.
A year prior and I would be found in urban London, on my way home from work, riding the wonders of the northern line. Not however, without the company of Paulo Coelho’s novel ‘The Alchemist’ to hand, a book about a young man who seeks wisdom and knowledge through adventure and omens.
After gaining a degree in Anthropology, my passion for travel and culture was greatly enhanced, and after around 2 years of employment at the London Aquarium, I made the decision to challenge my inner nomad and seek volunteering opportunities in Costa Rica and further travel through Central America. Little did I know that this would be the best decision of my life thus far, revealing many of my omens along the way.
Back to Nosara and I was stuck with the tricky decision of choosing between Costa Rica’s Pacific surf with my new found Canadian roommates, or to take a trip to Ostional Wildlife Reserve, in the hope of seeing some Olive Ridley Turtle hatchlings. In hindsight, this really wasn’t a tricky decision given my surfing prestige could be described as a mere ’ten second stander’. So with my mouth stones cleaned and two month strong, backpacker attire on, I phoned for a tuk tuk to take me to the reserve.
Now to put things into perspective, the following morning I was scheduled to leave for the Nicaraguan border and continue into my third country. Not only was this my last day to see these magnificent turtles, but as Olive Ridley nesting patterns are concentrated from July to November, the odds were very much against me.
With a short but loud beep, my tuk tuk had arrived and off we set towards the reserve.
Around 10 minutes into the drive and I had the pleasure of witnessing multiple iguanas scamper up nearby trees in a bid to avoid the looming bright red predator, in the form of our very noisy vehicle. Not only are iguanas a norm for a local Tica (Native Costa Rican) but the presence of fresh mangos is another commodity at their disposal. I asked the driver to stop by one of the mango trees and with impeccable timing, sampled a freshly fallen specimen.
After some intermittent, international charades via the rear view mirror and attempted verbal communiction, we learnt one anothers names and I felt as though I had made an acquaintance in Pablo. We eventually reached the destination and after paying Pablo, I made my way into the reserve station. I was greeted kindly by a group of volunteers who gave me permission to walk along the beach at my own leisure.
I started along Ostional’s impressive stretch and within a few seconds, I was subject to the suns blazing rays, I applied some factor 40 (war paint) and continued in anticipation. I passed a handful of nests, finding nothing but the remains of egg casings. With each possible sighting I felt myself competing with the local black vultures scavenging on the sand.
I was ready to accept defeat as I approached the end of the nesting area, but as I took one final gaze around, I sensed a movement in my peripheral vision. After closer inspection I had indeed managed to spot two very fragile, yet determined Olive Ridley hatchlings. I ran to the station to inform the volunteers and Ginny, a trainee vet, accompanied me to check up on my discovery.
Not only was it thrilling to find these animals in their natural habitat, but to watch the start of their life cycle was something special indeed.
When it comes to my fascination of evolution and adaptation, one of my favourite facts is that of turtles having forms of magnetite crystals in their head and thus having the ability to navigate the oceans and subsequent route back to their nesting ground.
To think that one day, the turtles may return to continue the cycle of life was a rather unique thought. We sat in awe of nature at work and saw the hatchlings make their first splash into the big blue.
For me, these turtles stood as an omen of hard work and after two years of teaching sea life conservation it was a privilege to have witnessed this uninhibited encounter with a species often against all odds.
I receive the omen of Ostional as nature’s way of saying thank you and it has taught me never to lose hope on the things you believe in and to continue in my commitment to conservation, even if the tide may not seem to be on ones side.
go and see and expience it for yourself - health benefits of animals and nature (walks in the park for example)
Duty to protect and conserve - population - medicine
illegal Pet trade - media cute animals, rescue centers taboo
Off the back of six months backpacking through Central America, I was inspired to create a platform for animal conservation and the key issues surrounding it . I decided to create a website that aims to promote important and interesting topics within the world of conservation by using pictures from past and present travel opportunities.
There is no specific layout or structure to this main page as I wanted to translate the way in which nature possesses order through chaos.
All images on the website are my own.
The pictures below were taken in San Jose del Pacifico, Mexico.
Entitled. Finding a Mexican Millipede.