When was the last time you visited the seaside? For me, it has been longer than usual: two days!
A Rocha UK was my introduction to the joining of my faith and marine conservation work. I had the privilege of being part of the A Rocha UK team as Conservation Champion for the Chiltern Hills in Oxfordshire – but the ocean always called.
Bio Blitzes at A Rocha UK’s coastal Partners in Action were helpful, but eventually I returned to my roots and began working, from the UK, to help A Rocha Kenya develop their coral reef marine conservation work. Eventually A Rocha International, the global A Rocha family’s coordination body, asked me to help other national organisations to develop marine work and I am excited about the expansion of our work here, in Florida, where I am currently based and leading efforts to conserve local habitats and species.
One of the struggles with marine conservation is that from the shore all looks well. Yet we know that below the waves there is a continued decimation of biodiversity and habitats through overfishing, pollution and as an underlying and long-term stress, climate change.
This has been a difficult year for everyone, but A Rocha marine work continues globally. Our partnership with St Andrews University has been very fruitful addressing livelihoods and understanding the socio-ecological dimensions of marine protected areas in Africa. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, our work continues on marine plastic pollution on all continents, with microplastics monitoring in Portugal, Kenya, and the USA.
What can you do to help protect the 71% of the world that is ocean?
Many things, but I want to encourage you to do something perhaps unexpected – take a seaside holiday! Research shows that being in, on, under or around water is good for our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Now, don’t all head to Bournemouth Beach – there are so many amazing places to visit with the UK. Soak in the benefit of the water, eat sustainable fish and chips, play and discover in the tidepools, pick up some plastic litter, and perhaps read a book – my recommendation being the Unnatural History of the Sea, by Prof Callum Roberts. Last year 13 A Rocha country organisations participated in the International Coastal Cleanup – search for the ‘Great British Beach Clean’ to join in this year and find an event near you.
I hope you will see how connected we are to the ocean, what an amazing treasure UK seas and coasts are, and will fall in love with the British seaside.
This blog was written by Dr Bob Sluka for the ‘Nature and the season of creation’ Wild Christian email. Bob is A Rocha USA’s Marine Conservation Director and Lead Scientist of A Rocha International’s Marine and Coastal Conservation Programme. Follow him on Twitter at: @BobSluka
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