Coastal Cleanup: How you can help protect our oceans

I watched Mission Blue the other night, a documentary film about the life and work of oceanographer Sylvia Earle and her mission to protect the ocean. It is one of those powerful films that will stay with you for a long time afterwards and have you questioning your role in her mission.

 

 

I have only seen a minute fraction of what Sylvia Earle has seen underwater and yet her opening lines of narration very much resonated with me: “I see things that others do not. A different world …. I think if others had the opportunity to witness what I have seen in my lifetime from thousands of hours underwater I would not seem like a radical at all”.

I’m sure these words will in fact resonate with anyone who has been scuba-diving or snorkelling. Witnessing the many wonders of the underwater world first-hand is a magical experience. It’s also a reminder of the complex natural world we belong to and why it’s so important to look after it.

 

"I think if others had the opportunity to witness what I have seen in my lifetime from thousands of hours underwater I would not seem like a radical at all" Sylvia Earle quote.

 

Thanks to Mission Blue it was with heightened interest that I clicked on a link in my children’s school newsletter to an International Coastal Cleanup event.

“Listen up!” I barked at my children “I’ve just signed us up to the Beach Cleanup this weekend. Woo hoo! Who’s excited?” My strained smile was met with a collective groan. It struck me then that I have a hard enough time getting them to clean up their bedroom, let alone the ocean. Thankfully, and surprisingly, it proved a lot of fun despite the unwelcome rain. My five year old viewed it more as a treasure hunt and delighted in digging up rusty beer tops, plastic cutlery and other ‘gems’ including ‘dinosaur bones’ and ‘ancient fossils’ (which I later discovered he pocketed rather than disposed of).

 

Panama with kids: Coastal clean up at Veracruz Beach
Coastal clean up at Veracruz Beach, Panama
Panama with kids: Coastal clean up at Veracruz Beach
Dark clouds rolling in…

 

Beach Cleanup Panama

 

Admittedly the rains got the better of us and after an hour or so, their levels of enthusiasm took a dramatic turn and we had to call it a day. Despite our small contribution I’m glad we went. Whilst I’m aware that there will always be more we can do / should be doing as a family to help protect the oceans, it is at least a start. You’re not going to see me eliminating fish from my diet like Sylvia Earle has (although I did buy soya fish for the first time the other day and was surprised by how good it was) but I like to think it’s a steppingstone in the right direction.

 

 

Just some of the rubbish collected from ONE beach. Coastal clean up.
Just some of the rubbish collected from ONE beach.

 

If you’d like to know what you can do as a family to support Sylvia Earle’s Mission there are plenty of ideas at Mission Blue and Ocean Conservancy, including signing this 5th Graders’ petition to stop Dunkin’ Donuts from using foam cups in their stores (great idea!)

 

Infographic Coastal Cleanup
Some fun infographics via Ocean Conservancy

 

How your family can get involved in the International Coastal Cleanup campaign #familytravel Click To Tweet

 

Have you ever watched a film that has inspired you to take action? Have you or your children taken part in similar campaigns? Please share your tips, ideas, suggestions and thoughts below.

 

Family Guide to Panama

For more information on family travel in Panama see my guide to Panama with Kids.

Panama With Kids

 

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