Beneath these vast bodies of water, lies an abundance of plant and animal life: from giant kelp, colourful coral reefs, red and green algae, phytoplankton to bottlenose dolphins, gray seals, great white sharks and blue whales - our largest living mammal. With an estimated 200,000 identified species recorded worldwide, actual numbers may be in the range of millions as new species and habitats are continually discovered. Three new species of fish, for example, were recently discovered at extreme depths of the Pacific Ocean.
While the ocean provides around 5% of global GDP, from food and nourishment to enriching our lives culturally and recreationally, our oceans are also under threat from human activity. In this blog, we share the threats of specifically pollution, and climate change to raise awareness and encourage action to fundamentally protect our oceans for future generations.
Every year, an estimated 18 billion pounds of plastic waste enters our oceans, and in the last 30 years, volunteers at Ocean Conservancy have collected more than 220 million pounds of trash. All this plastic, ranging from straws, carrier bags and drink bottles - which are not disposed of correctly and recycled - are causing harm to life below these waters. Case studies include sea turtles choking on straws; Hawaiian monk seals and seabirds entangled by fishing lines, nets, strapping bands and six-pack rings and killer whales mistaking marine debris as food resulting in starvation due to their stomachs having no room for real food. Additionally, new research has also emerged around the possible long-term impacts on the aquatic food chain and how this might eventually impact human health and food security.
Responsible Travel offers an array of conservation programs. In Portugal, for example, you can join a passionate group of divers who remove debris from the ocean sea bed and surrounding coral reefs. Every participant, whether an experienced diver or a beginner, will have the opportunity to experience different dive sites around Lisbon and help our marine ecosystem flourish.
Changes to our climate, brought about by increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the burning of fossil fuels, have led to noticeable changes in our oceans. This includes melting and disappearing glaciers - where according to the National Geographic, Artic Sea ice has thinned significantly over the past half century - habitat loss, rising sea levels, the introduction of invasive species (which has threatened the survival of native species and the migration to safer and cooler waters), coral bleaching, mortality and the dissolving of shells.
Some airlines, such as Delta Airlines, United Airlines and British Airways offer voluntary schemes for travellers who wish to travel responsibly and mitigate the impact of their journey. When booking a flight, customers can willingly choose whether to donate in support of environmentally friendly projects and offset the carbon emissions they incur on each flight through an online calculator.
Making a difference
While many of these threats will require unification and leadership from policymakers and businesses globally, there are a number of small actions which you can take to make a difference to our oceans, and, inspire others to follow. These actions may be: skipping single-use plastics and opting for eco-friendly alternatives, recycling programs; checking for sustainable food labels and cutting your carbon footprint by reducing your energy use at home.
Wherever you decide to travel in the world, whether it’s experiencing first-hand conservation work, volunteering in coastal clean-ups, working within local communities, or scuba diving and swimming among turtles and dolphins abroad, with moneycorp you can sign up for market updates and even track or target specific exchange rates. We will send you an alert via email or SMS when a currency has reached your chosen rate. Visit here to find out more.