Do You Sea Love?
by Danni Washington
An ocean advocate, the TV host of Xploration Nature Knows Best, and co-founder of the Big Blue & You
Water has no boundaries. It is the physical element that reminds us of our interconnectedness with one another and all life on Earth. The ocean represents the vast expanse of knowledge that we have yet to understand. It wouldn't be surprising if a majority of those reading this believe they possess a well-established and positive affinity for the sea. With that thought in mind, consider one question: Do you believe most of the human population genuinely LOVES the ocean?
With more intensity each day, we are being pummeled with bad news about the future of our seas, water resources, and overall health of our planet. The public should be sufficiently alarmed about the danger of an unhealthy ocean and encroaching sea level rise. But honestly, how can someone be alarmed if they don't have a personal connection or feel the impacts on an individual level?
In order to embrace the place that covers three-fourths of our planet, each of us must explore the blue frontier for ourselves. With over 600,000 square miles of underwater parks, the National Marine Sanctuary System provides the perfect opportunity for anyone who desires to connect with the ocean. But even with open access, it is important to acknowledge that certain groups may have disadvantages and vulnerabilities that can limit their exposure to the sea. Inclusivity and creativity are required in order to inspire people of every gender, race, age, and economic status to experience the wonder of the ocean.
As more data reveal the repercussions of human activity negatively impacting Earth's natural balance, we are faced with a choice. As simple as it sounds, we can either choose to wallow in pessimism believing that life itself is doomed forever or we can decide to create possibilities of a more sustainable future. In order to achieve the latter, we need every passionate, skilled, and talented ocean enthusiast to put in mindful work to help solve the biggest challenges threatening the Big Blue.
This work must begin with young people who are unyielding creators of hope and optimism. By exposing youthful minds to our sanctuaries, we are inspiring the next generation to fall in love with these aquatic treasures. The good news is that, in spite of the anthropogenic pressure, the ocean is intrinsically resilient. We know that marine ecosystems will continue to change, adapt, and evolve. Young leaders are the strongest catalysts to forge new ideas about how our global community can truly appreciate and protect what we love.
We need every individual who cares to assist in providing inclusive opportunities to awaken a new collective consciousness that emboldens everyone to feel a heartfelt connection to the sea. Every action counts. Let's work together to affirm the right for all people to have access to clean and healthy oceans. We must act expeditiously to encourage respectful co-existence with our blue planet simply because our survival depends on it.
Learn more about educational opportunities in sanctuaries at sanctuaries.noaa.gov/education, and about Washington's work to bring the ocean to everyone at danniwashington.com, seayouthriseup.org, and bigblueandyou.org.