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Checking In: Taking Part in Seachange

By Catharine Cooper.

Some thoughts on the sea …Before us. Beneath us. Beyond us.

The constancy. The changeability. The sea.

We sit on the edge of the great Pacific Ocean, a community of the lucky ones to call the beachfront our home. It’s our western boundary, our Laguna blue belt.

Often, we take her for granted. She’s just there, a welcome sight in the morning from our treasured views. Perfect sandy footing for our early beach walks. A comfort in the evening as the sun settles its red-orange orb beyond the thin horizon.

We are bathed in her ionic atmosphere; healed in many ways by her salty composition.

We ride her waves and we splash in her shallows. We explore her tide pools. We treat them as our waters, when in fact; we share them with a community as diverse and broad as the Pacific is wide.

She is vast. The Pacific is the largest of the oceanic divisions, extending from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south. Australia and Asia mark her western terminus, while the America’s mark the east. She measures in at 64.1 million square miles, and her hydrosphere covers about 46% of the earths’ water surface and about 30% of the total surface. The equator divides the waters into the north and south Pacific Oceans.

So much to care for. The shared aspect of this great body of water should be enough to remind us that whatever our actions here, they are eventually felt on foreign shores. We only have to witness the mass of debris – ships, house parts, broken toys – from the Fukushima tsunami washing ashore on the west coast to experience our interconnectedness.

What then of that motor oil, just the one can, that is unconsciously poured into the storm drains?  Or the dog poop, just that one, that isn’t bagged, but left to slip into the sea. Soap bubbles, pesticides, cigarette butts, plastic bags, helium balloons, Styrofoam cup bits …

We continue to believe the sea will take care of it. That somehow, this great beautiful body of water that fills us with such joy will always right the wrongs that we do.

Yet more and more, we discover our ocean hubris. The trash vortex in the midst of the Pacific gyre is testament to our unconscious living. A monster ball of slowly degrading trash covers an area the size of Texas and swirls slowly, like a clock. It is choked with dead fish, marine animals and birds that have become ensnared in its mass. Some of the plastics in the gyre will not breakdown in the lifetimes of the grandchildren who threw them away.

If you love the sea …and who can live near her without embracing her beauty and magic … take extra time to care for her. Pick up trash on your walks. Think twice before you send soapy carwash residue down the drain. Pay attention to the plastic containers that you buy and recycle, or consider other packing options. Get a reusable water bottle!

Thanks from me for thinking of how you can care for the sea. And thanks from her.

Catharine Cooper is a lifelong water lover.  She can be reached at [email protected].   

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