Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Surf-A-Thon To Benefit Ocean Conservation

June 20 is International Surf Day and Project Save Our Surf has teamed up with the Surfrider Foundation and Surfing Magazine to present SURF 24, an all day surfing marathon to benefit our beautiful oceans. Enjoy live music, celebrity appearances, entertainment, and more. Event kicks off at 11 am on June 19 beside the legendary Huntington Beach Pier and benefits Heal the Bay, Inside the Outdoors, and the Surfrider Foundation.

Whether you live near the coast or not the ocean a vital part of our every day lives. Below Heal the Bay offers up some examples of why the ocean is important to all of us.

All over the world, people depend on fish and seafood for their daily food. More than 1 billion people worldwide depend on fish as their primary source of protein. Many of these people fish to feed themselves—they spend their days on the water bringing home enough seafood to feed their families. Unfortunately, as we pollute our oceans, we see more and more contamination in seafood. Some seafood is not even safe to eat anymore. Also, pollution decimates habitat and fish populations, meaning that there are fewer and fewer fish to catch. Just as important, fisheries around the world currently employ about 200 million people. If fish populations decrease, these people will find themselves with jobs.

Product Ingredients
You might not like seafood, but chances are you eat it every single day. Seaweed, one of the building blocks of the marine food chain, is a very important ingredient in many of our daily products. It’s often found in ice cream, toothpaste, brownie mixes, chocolate milk, coffee creamer, cottage cheese, egg substitutes, evaporated milk, frozen foods, desserts, frozen yogurt, infant formula, margarine, mayonnaise, multiple vitamins, relish, salad dressing, sour cream, and yogurt, to name a few. Seaweed is listed on a label as carrageenan, alginate, or beta-carotene. Carrageenan is a derivative of red algae that is used in gelling and stabilizing foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and industrial products. You might find Carrageenan in your ice cream or toothpaste. Alginates are algal derivatives from brown algae that are used as a thickener, creamer, and a stabilizer. You might find alginates in your brownie mix or salad dressings. Beta-carotene is an algal derivative (it can come from green algae) that is a yellow-orange food coloring sometimes found in cheese or mayonnaise.

Our beaches and oceans are also very important for recreation. Here in Southern California, millions of people spend time on the beach throughout the year. If our oceans are dangerously polluted, we won’t be able to swim, surf, fish, dive or sail on those beautiful summer weekends. Not to mention, the beautiful coastlines that make California famous (and the reason many of us live here) suffer from ocean pollution issues.

Throughout the world, people depend on tourism for their income. In California, tourism is a major industry, with visitors bringing more than $12 billion each year into the state (the Gross State Product for coastal tourism and recreation in 2000 exceeded $12 billion). Restaurants and hotels are full of people from all over the world who come to LA to go to the beach. In the Santa Monica Bay alone, beaches average 45 million visits per year. And in 2002, 22 million visitors spent $11 billion dollars in LA. Santa Monica generated $1.08 billion alone. If our beaches are dirty and unsafe, our economy will suffer.

As we learned in beginning biology classes, food webs are the basis of life. All ecosystems depend on all of the individual species to make a complete, and healthy, whole. When we start removing threads from that food web, the ecosystem becomes unstable and less able to recover from natural catastrophes. We face unforeseen consequences as well—who knows which animals depend on a basic (and fragile) organism that might succumb to pollution? Every aspect of the ecosystem is vital to the ocean. When one species is in danger, the whole ocean is in danger too. And when the oceans are in danger, we are too.

As you know, plants produce oxygen. We depend on plants to absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale, and to produce fresh oxygen for us to breathe. Ocean plants (like algae or phytoplankton) in the ocean produce 60% of the oxygen we breathe. Without ocean plants, we wouldn’t have enough air to breathe. For every 10 breaths you take, the ocean gave you 6. That’s reason enough to work to protect it.

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