A few weeks ago, I took Gaia to visit one of her favorite places in Marin, The Marine Mammal Center. Before entering, she paused for a quite a while taking in the vastness before her. The ocean always puts her in a peaceful state, water calms, soothes, brings ease to the mind.
The week before, I read this, and my heart has been broken ever since. I knew it was bad, the state of our oceans, yet Greg Ray’s account of what he has witnessed, literally made my gut wrench. And the thoughts of my girl, who is so in love with every part of the sea, not having the chance to always witness the awe of what covers most of her planet, truly makes me stop in my tracks and start making a difference. The first step, awareness.
You can imagine the questions she asks while we walk through the facility, and I do not sugar coat the answers. The hope is with our kids, they are the ones who can make a change. The image above is an art installation from kids all over the Bay Area. Each piece of watercolor paper has a written promise upon it. Simple things such as using less water to brush teeth, picking up trash off the beach, eating sustainable fish, recycling, etc.
We read every plaque along the walls telling the stories of each visitor who has come through the center. While there one of the sea lions died of a virus, and we were able to watch the autopsy. These are moments that I am thankful for educational offerings which are all around us, we just have to seek it out and learn ways to make a difference. And before we can begin teaching our kids how to save the planet, we first must allow them to fall in love with Mother Earth. I believe kids who spend time out in the natural world and develop a connection with the plants, oceans, and creatures that inhabit it are more likely to grow up to be environmentally-engaged citizens. I’m often reminded of David Sobel’s words:
“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the Earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.”
In March 2008, a 51-foot-long sperm whale washed ashore near Tomales Point. The cause of death was ingestion of 450 pounds of ghost nets and rope. This loch nest monster like creature is made from the ‘junk food’ which kills sea life on a daily basis.
There are many conservation and volunteer sites to help guide you in the direction to make a change, The Ocean Project is a great place to start. Just remember, all life is connected, and every action reflects the actions of all others. And all our efforts, big or small, together affect the health of the ocean.