Connecting Citizens to the Ocean

by Kristin Regan

zoo-editedSummer is here, school is out and it is time to go to the beach!  June is National Oceans Month and is the perfect time to learn about the resources our oceans offer as well as the struggles they face.

I recently had the opportunity to attend an Oceans Day event at a local zoo and share with visitors how we can help to protect the ocean.  The event drew crowds of energetic children and their families.  Luckily for me, I was in front of an exhibit with a bobcat that slept most of the day, so keeping groups of interested spectators was an easy task.

I spoke to the children and their families about ocean acidification and how it impacts marine life.  The children were initially attracted to the display by an interactive game in which they had to help their favorite orange clown fish safely find its way to its sea anemone home.  As they played, I explained the effects ocean acidification has on marine life such as confusion of fish and impacts to their habitat.  I then talked about how the things that we do here on land actually affects the ocean and the organisms that live in it.

The ocean is a so large and vast that it is difficult to grasp that the things we do on land could actually have an impact on it.  The idea that the biospheres that make up our planet are all connected is a concept that is key to really understanding all of the stresses that our oceans face.  I told the visitors how using electricity and driving cars all contribute to our carbon footprint and air pollution, and that eventually these pollutants are absorbed into the ocean and contribute to ocean acidification.

Looking back on that outreach effort, I am hopeful that this full circle connection helped visitors realize that even though the ocean may not be a part of their daily lives, what they do every day has an effect on it.

 

About the Author:  Kristin is a member of the Ocean and Dredge Disposal Program at EPA Region 3.  She enjoys spending her free time by the water, whether it’s sitting on the beach or fishing in Pennsylvania state parks.

 

 

 

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