It’s very true what they say about not appreciating what you have until it’s gone. I have been lucky enough to live right next to the beach on the beautiful Sunshine Coast my entire life, until last year I moved away for the first time (I did actually move back, but last week moved again to the Gold Coast). And while the Gold Coast does still have kilometres and kilometres of gorgeous sandy beaches, I am now a fifteen minute drive to the beach, rather than a two minute walk. At first this was a big shock for me, it seemed so far away. But then I got to thinking, how incredibly LUCKY are we that a fifteen minute drive to the beach is deemed inconvenient and far away!? So many people never get the chance to swim in warm, clear water or lay on white, sandy beaches nearly all year round.
In Australia our beaches are a huge part of our lifestyle and who we are. We should be appreciating, nurturing and protecting this blessing, but it seems too many of us take it for granted. It’s everywhere, it’s there everyday, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon right? Wrong. Our oceans are diminishing before our eyes and WE are the problem.
Capt. Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an endless floating waste of plastic trash. He is a brilliant speaker and is now drawing attention to the growing, choking problem of plastic debris in our seas. I don’t feel I can communicate just how serious our ocean crisis is, so instead listen to Capt. Moore’s speech and see for yourself.
Seas of Plastic
I believe that our oceans are the last pure thing on this planet. The sheer strength of the waves, the power of the tides, the beauty of all the creatures within and the way the ocean connects our world leaves me breathless day after day. There is nowhere else in the world that I feel safer, yet more powerless, connected, yet so insignificant. When I am floating in the ocean, feeling the current move my body as it does, when I dive under a wall of blue and hear the rest of the wave crash around me; I don’t think I have ever felt more at peace with my surroundings. I find great comfort in the fact that no matter where I go in the world, I can find those beautiful blue waves and I will be home.
In Australia our beaches are who we are, they’re our home and our identity. It is so important for locals and tourists also to understand this and understand that it is our job as a community to keep this beautiful ecosystem clean and as untouched as possible. I am only young, but when the time comes for me to have my own children, I want them to have the opportunity to not only see but to live and experience the serenity and beauty of the ocean, the same way I have been blessed enough to do my whole life.
In my four years as an ocean conservationist, I have been incredibly blessed to meet hundreds of amazing people with incredible passion for our oceans. Some stayed in my life briefly, each igniting more passion in my heart and teaching me new things about activism; others became family and proved that saltwater can be thicker than blood.
I have met people who work 9-5 jobs and have families, yet still make time to turn up at Sea Shepherd stalls every week. I have met teenagers who have given up months of their lives to educate school children on pollution. I have met people of all ages and races, who spend up to five months of every year on a leaky old ship in the Southern Ocean defending our whales. I have met people who have tragically lost their children, yet still find the strength to believe in and fight for something.
These people have changed me, shaped me and inspired me to keep fighting to defend and conserve our oceans for the rest of my life. So here’s to the Ocean Army; to the activists, the dedicated, the game-changers. For they are the people who are going to change the world.