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Earth Island News

Reef Protection International


A revolution for the ocean
The world suffered a recent enormous human tragedy on the Indian Ocean’s shores. Oceans themselves have also suffered greatly in the past year. Millions of tons of waste have been dumped into the ocean, 100 million tons of fish have been culled, and nearly 30 million tons of ocean megafauna – sharks, sea turtles, albatrosses, and dolphins – have been killed, as well as small fish and other creatures nobody wants to eat.

Canned tuna now contains enough mercury to poison unborn children, damaging their nervous systems. At sea, oceanographers find six times as much plastic as plankton. During this century, oceans will warm a degree and the sea level will rise another foot – enough to disrupt deep ocean circulation, melt more of the icecaps, and affect animals from snails to polar bears. But the coming decade will emerge as an era of progress in conservation and the culture of sustainability.

We are the Internet generation. We understand that networks of information connect all living things.

We have breakthrough information – knowledge about life on earth and in the ocean. A combination of space-based and molecular technologies and interdisciplinary research has deepened our understanding of the oceans. We know that some animals migrate 7,500 miles between Japan and California, and that deep-sea species live without light and oxygen. From space, we measure ocean temperatures in any location at any moment and we can combine and analyze this knowledge using high-speed computers.

We are a generation that communicates. Papers published today in Science are read around the world in 20 languages tonight. We’re not afraid to share and we’re mystified by those who don’t. Kids no longer have to wait for Jacques Cousteau to make another documentary; the airwaves are full of ocean wonders. Thousands of ocean camps, marine labs, aquaria, and nature centers have expert guides who work to promote learning and inspire social change.

Take Action: To learn more about Ocean Revolution, visit their Web site To Learn more about RPI, go to

Organizations like Reef Protection International (RPI) are creating innovative market-based tools to help conserve the world’s fragile coral reefs. On World Ocean’s Day (June 8), RPI helped launch the “Ocean Revolution,” a new wave of ocean advocacy, personal responsibility, and local action, in the spirit of John F. Kennedy, who said “[T]here are some revolutions which humanity accomplishes without quite knowing how, because it is everybody who takes them in hand.” Thousands of people who care deeply about the fate of the oceans are joining together to transform our relationship with the sea, each in our own way and as part of the connected whole.

Later this summer, RPI will initiate a campaign to educate the public about the marine aquarium trade. As part of this campaign, a pocket guide will be distributed that will outline which fish purchases contribute to coral reef conservation and which to avoid. This effort will not only help increase public interest in coral reef conservation, but will also help ensure that the enjoyment of aquaria supports the sustainability and health of coral reefs in the wild.

Join us. For yourself, each other, and the ocean.

Dr. Wallace J. Nichols is a scientist, educator, ocean activist, and author. Drew Weiner is the director of Reef Protection International.


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