The grass is always greener! March marks Seagrass Awareness Month, a time to recognize the importance of healthy seagrass beds in maintaining our ocean’s health.
In places like Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, eelgrass – a type of seagrass – provides a primary food source for a variety of marine animals, and protection for others. In addition, seagrasses can help filter pollutants out of the water and prevent erosion, keeping the water column healthy and clear.
Here, otters raft together in Elkhorn Slough, a tidal salt marsh in Monterey Bay, where they provide a critical service to eelgrass beds. Otters help protect these precious grasses by munching on predators like crabs that would otherwise threaten eelgrass beds.
What will you do to make like an otter and protect seagrasses?
I appreciate that climate change gets a lot of attention (possibly because it has the potential to have the highest economic costs if left unchecked) but it is my duty to remind everyone that the biggest threat to wildlife and ecosystems today is habitat loss. Not climate change. Not trophy hunting. Not even pollution–though a habitat can become so degraded from pollution that it becomes unusable.
The very best way to curb global destruction of habitat is to implement large-scale changes to our development patterns, energy production, and agricultural system. So be sure to support those efforts politically. You can also support sustainable, multi-use development in your communities(many municipalities talk about community-wide projects at city counsel meetings!). Live densely. Eat less meat. Call out self driving cars for the sprawl-supporting pact with satan that they are. Support public transportation! Don’t support sprawl and McMansions! Recognize that suburbia in general and lawns in particular are a facsimile of greenness that destroy actual usable habitat and replace it with sterile monocultures that require gallons of water, pesticides, and fertilizer to maintain. Stop using products with
altogether. Make your yard wildlife-friendly. Consider a brush pile. Keep your damn cats indoors. Plant native plants. Remove invasive plants. Maybe don’t freak out and call animal control every time you see a bat or snake or coyote in your neighborhood since they were literally there first and we’ve left them no place else to go. Watch out for herps crossing the roads in the breeding season, especially our salamanders. Plant a NATIVE tree. Support your local parks, forests, and waterways, big and small.
Oceans are vital to wildlife and our planet. Containing 99 percent of the living space on earth, oceans are vast habitats for an impressive array of life. To celebrate World Ocean Day, we’re sharing this remarkable picture of bioluminescent plankton near Haystack Rock at Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge. From moments like this to surfing, sailing, fishing and diving, oceans are essential to our lives, economy and natural understanding. Photo courtesy of Jeff Berkes.
Deep beneath the waves off the coast of Central California lies the technicolor marvel of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary!
Surrounded by soft sediments of the continental shelf seafloor, Cordell Bank emerges with a rocky habitat, providing home to colorful and abundant invertebrates, algae, and fishes. Here, a research diver pauses behind a colony of strawberry anemones and other invertebrates.
Stygiomedusa gigantea is one of the largest invertebrate predators known
in the ocean, yet little is understood about its ecology and behavior.
Stygiomedusa lacks tentacles, but has four extraordinarily large oral
arms that are presumably used to envelope prey. The swimming bell of
this spectacular medusa can reach over one meter across with arms over
ten meters long.
A symbiotic relationship between Stygiomedusa
and the fish, Thalassobathia pelagica, was confirmed in 2003 when
scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)
filmed the pair swimming together in the Gulf of California. The fish
has adapted to using the medusa as a hiding place in its open ocean
In twenty-seven years of scientific ROV surveys,
researchers at MBARI have been lucky enough to observe this rare animal
seven times, from depths of 750 meters down to 2187 meters.
On World Environment Day, don’t forget the world beneath the waves!
Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary is one of the largest live-bottom reefs of the southeastern United States. What’s a live-bottom reef? It’s one where the rocky seafloor is blanketed with marine invertebrates. This reef provides foraging and resting grounds for loggerhead sea turtles, like this one here.
We’ve got your weekend inspiration! #DiscoverTheCoast with us in California
The California Coastal National Monument preserves important habitat for coastal plants and animals, and protects cultural sites that provide insight into the people who lived along the California coast thousands of years ago. Many of the new units of the monument are also culturally and spiritually important to local tribes.
Cotoni-Coast Dairies in Santa Cruz County extends from the steep slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains to marine terraces overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This portion of the California Coastal National Monument encompasses ancient archaeological sites, riparian and wetland habitats, coastal prairie grasslands, and woodlands that include stands of coast redwood. Photo by Jim Pickering, BLM.
A respite from the modern world, complete with historic architecture and abundant natural life, awaits visitors to the California coast at Piedras Blancas.
Only 40 miles north of San Luis Obispo, California, the large white coastal rocks for which Piedras Blancas was named have served as a landmark for centuries to explorers and traders along the central coast of California.
Built in 1875 as a safety aid to mariners, the light station once cast a flashing, oil-flame light 25 miles out to sea, warning ship captains to steer clear of the white rocks that would mean certain doom for a vessel.
Today, the light station, its first order lens and light structure long ago removed, casts a beacon to travelers on scenic California Highway 1. It continues to provide a navigational aid to ship traffic, as well. Photo by David Ledig, BLM.
fun fact: cows kill more people every year than sharks do in the world combined yet we still have witch hunts and destroy them for no reason other than irrational fear spurred on by movies such as Jaws and The Shallows and distortions of their nature by social media outlets and the news.
Global fisheries are on the verge of collapse. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), three quarters of the world’s fisheries are now overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from overexploitation. Carry a sustainable seafood card and ask your seafood restaurant or fish market to buy from sustainable fisheries. Look for special terms like “line caught”, “diver caught”, “sustainably caught” or “sustainably harvested.
Avoid products produced through unsustainable or environmentally harmful methods. For example, avoid cosmetics containing shark squalene and jewelry made of coral or sea turtle shell. These products are directly linked to unsustainable fishing methods and the destruction of entire ecosystems.
Select sea-friendly souvenirs: Steer clear of jewelry, mementoes, and products made from marine animals or animal parts, including sea shells, tortoiseshell hair accessories (made from hawksbill turtles), shark products, and—especially—coral.
Vote responsibly. Electing the right public officials is essential to good ocean policy. Do your research and make an informed decision. Stay involved after Election Day. If you have concerns or questions, contact your representative.
Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is making our oceans more acidic. One consequence could be the loss of corals on a global scale, as their calcium skeletons are weakened by the increasing acidity of the water. There are many simple ways you can reduce your energy use. Ride a bike, walk or use public transportation. Use high efficiency appliances in your home. Turn off appliances when they aren’t in use. Turn up your thermostat a few degrees in the summer and down a few degrees in the winter. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs in your house.
Use reusable plastic products. Plastic debris in the ocean degrades marine habitats and contributes to the deaths of many marine animals. Because floating plastic often resembles food to many marine birds, sea turtles and marine mammals, they can choke or starve because their digestive systems get blocked when they eat it. Help prevent these unnecessary deaths—use cloth grocery bags and reusable water bottles. Start a Ban the Bottle movement in your community. It can be done!
Pick up garbage and litter near beaches and shorelines. Much of the plastic and debris found in the ocean has its beginnings in beach litter. As beach crowds increase, so does the amount of trash left behind. Sea birds, turtles, seals, and other animals can mistake floating plastic for food or become tangled in it and die. Don’t let your day at the beach contribute to the destruction of our oceans. Bring a trash bag with you for your garbage and volunteer for beach clean-ups.
If you have a salt-water aquarium, make sure you ask where and how the animals you buy were collected. Look for the Marine Aquarium Council’s Certification in pet stores to find animals that were carefully harvested and well cared for. And never release an unwanted pet into the ocean or any waterway. Organisms that don’t belong can crowd out the locals and disrupt the ecosystem.
Plastic Trash along our riversMouth of the Los Angeles River, Long Beach, California. Photo: Bill McDonald, Algalita Foundation, 2002. Plastic Pollution Coalition via Flickr.
Take action to help fresh water lakes and streams:
Find out where YOUR water comes from and urge others to do the same.
Make sure your hiking gear is free of plant matter when you head out into nature. Seeds of invasive plant species can hitch a ride on boots. Invasive species can cause many water problems, including absorbing more water than native species and sending erosion and bacteria into rivers and lakes.
Volunteer for a stream-clean up or wetland restoration event.
Take someone on a hike near a river or lake – or better yet, get in or on the water – swimming, kayaking, canoeing, etc. People protect things they care about. Make sure your hiking gear is free of plant matter when you head out into nature. Seeds of invasive plant species can hitch a ride on boots. Invasive species can cause many water problems, including absorbing more water than native species and sending erosion and bacteria into rivers and lakes.
Plant a tree in your yard or a friend’s yard, at a school, University, church, or other public place. Trees help keep soil in place – rather than flowing into our streams and lakes – and help slow water down, reducing flooding and enabling more rainwater to trickle down into groundwater supplies.
Water your garden in the morning or the evening when the water will evaporate less rapidly.
Sweep patios and sidewalks rather than hosing them, which wastes water and carries contaminants into freshwater systems.
Limit pesticide use. Pesticides are the only substances we intentionally introduce into our environment to kill living things, and besides being potentially dangerous to people, pets and wildlife, they’ll eventually be carried into our freshwater supply by runoff.
Keep a timer in your bathroom to help you take a shorter shower, and turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. All that perfectly clean tap water is just going down the drain.
Skip meat for one meal a week. It can take about 600 gallons of water to produce a hamburger. (Think of all the grain that’s grown to feed the cattle.)
Never flush non-degradable products, like baby wipes or plastic tampon applicators. They can throw a huge wrench into the sewage treatment process and wind up littering beaches and water. (Who wants to walk along a beach and step in their own garbage?) And never dump old pills in the toilet, either. Instead, bring them to a local pharmacy that has a take-back program.
Choose toothpaste, face and body scrubs, and cosmetics containing a biodegradable exfoliants, like powdered walnut shells or crushed apricot seeds instead of polymer microbeads. The beads absorb toxins in water, are eaten by marine life, and can make their way up the food chain all the way to our dinner plates
Don’t let paint, used oil, chemical cleaners, or other questionable household products go down the drain. These items contain toxic ingredients (think sodium hypochlorite, ammonia, formaldehyde) we don’t want in our water supply. To find out about hazardous-waste collection days and facilities, or contact your local sanitation, public works, or environmental health department.
Good vehicle and machine maintenance can reduce the leaking of oil, coolant, antifreeze, and other nasty liquids that are carried by rainwater down driveways or through parking lots and then seep into groundwater supplies. Go a step further by always choosing a car wash over hosing down your ride yourself. The pros are required to drain their wastewater into sewer systems, where the water is treated for all the bad stuff before being discharged. Many even recycle that water.
Choose non-toxic cleaning products and low-phosphate detergents. Many household chores can be done with simple ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, or lemon juice. Visit Consumer Reports’ Greener Choices page for suggestions.
Hail, Poseidon, Holder of the Earth, dark-haired lord! O blessed one, be kindly in heart and help those who voyage in ships!
Did you know that sea otters in California are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act? They range from San Mateo to Santa Barbara County in rocky marine habitats like those off the BLM’s Piedras Blancas Light Station Outstanding Natural Area.
Did you also know that BLM’s California Coastal National Monument comprises more than 20,000 rocks, islands, exposed reefs, and pinnacles along the 1,100 miles of California’s coast?
BLM photo of a southern sea otter off of the Piedras Blancas Light Station Outstanding Natural Area.
Earth sustains us, feeds us, and shelters us. We have the privilege to walk on earth’s sacred lands and witness the beauty it contains. From the ancient mountains, to the silent forests, the changing seasons and changing colors of the sky, to the vast prairies and the endless rivers, lakes, and oceans. All that earth contains however, is being destroyed.
We are currently faced with water depletion, species extinction, habitat destruction, ocean dead zones, amazon and rainforest destruction, global warming, and so much more. The cause? Animal agriculture. The multi billion dollar meat and dairy corporations constantly bombard us with advertisements of milk, meat, and eggs, but we are never shown the truth. We never hear about animal agriculture using the conservative number of 2,500 gallons of water to produce only 1 pound of beef, or how only 5% of water is consumed in the US by private homes while 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture. We’re often told to report our neighbors for water waste, but who reports those in charge of exploiting fresh water for a burger? Every second 1-2 acres of rainforests are cleared, the lungs of the earth are perishing and plant and animal species native to those places are becoming extinct.
Earth can only give so much. When we constantly take from earth again and again, when we neglect earth’s needs and mistreat earth, we in turn receive backlash in the form of environmental destruction, which affects all on this planet. We are all held by this beautiful blue planet that we take for granted. We must stop thinking of ourselves as rulers and start encompassing humility and respect towards all beings and the earth itself. Each day by eating vegan you can help the earth and the animals. Opposing the exploitation of the earth and the 58 billion animals killed yearly for food is taking a stand. You are planting seeds and showing others that we must care for earth and its inhabitants.
Visit Cowspiracy’s home page for facts and sources.