World Ocean Day

I was wondering what to speak about for #WorldOceanDay. Of course our World Ocean is magnificent and in great peril. It is also a very rare feature in our galaxy, that’s every single living thing depending on it (if you omit a few tough bacteria). We are still searching for another place to live but actually considering the projections, there is no chance we can find another ocean before this one dies even if we learn to travel at light speed. So we, as a specie, need to change attitude. I will just show were the change is, to deviate the curb from utter annihilation that our specie is programming for our planet. The change is here, at the base, people. People that want something different, people that realise what is wrong and what can be done.

I choose the cover picture of a beach clean we did impromptu with the runners of the Cape Wrath Challenge after the fun run. There was very few advertisement, people were tired, not from here, not environmental activists. However about 10 people came along, not knowing what it was (others helped on Balnakeil Beach proper). I made them walking inland first for 20 minutes , they were probably wondering what this was about. But being on a headland, we just went to a place nobody goes and nobody cleans on the back of Balnakeil Beach, a small cove facing NE. A place that on my own I would have spent 20 days cleaning while swearing. I had started a month before, 70 kg collected in 40 minutes, long walk back, posted to the BBC #OneShow for a Surfers Against Sewage campaign. With the runners, we collected about 500 kg in that cove. A lot of things that could arm wildlife but also us, shredding particles that could bind to toxin and enter the food chain. Most people were very shocked by the amount of pollution. All of them were very engaged when on the spot. They saw the result at the end of the day, they made a difference. They saw the plastic in the soil, in the plants, wrapped around everything. Anyone can imagine being caught in one of this, I don’t have nightmare about it yet but I am sure this will happen, entanglement night… However, they saw how much there was and how much it is potentially dangerous. I heard some pledges, I heard people saying I will say what I have seen I will tell people. This is where things change for real. You can tell people, you can show them pictures or movies, try to educate them but only if you see, touch, carry and experience than you can imagine. Because what is 200 m of coastline in a remote place of NW Scotland compared to the shear immensity of our planet? How much is there to remove? Because we have to remove it, there is no other solution. We also have to stop it coming in but everything that we have dumped in the sea should be disposed safely. That’s a lot of work, that needs to be done manually, that’s millions of working hours but that is just the result of people not disposing properly of their waste or misusing plastic with their business activities or just basic criminality and this during decades.

The positive note is that, because there are more and more cleaning initiative, the stock of plastic stored on the shore and in rivers is reducing in many places. The flow of pollution is still increasing but less. Many people decide to engage themselves to make a difference some occasionally, some in a more systematic way and they become inspirational. There is no easy solution, big money needs to involved and quickly as well as numerous people time. We all have a part of responsibility in this. I will finish with an inspirational photo. That is Sorcha, that give up her free time for the Scottish Coastal Cleanup Project looking back at this famous cove where we did extract 38 kg again after a thorough clean. It is beautiful, it is safe, that’s our Ocean.

Sorcha from the Scottish Coastal Cleanup Project looking back at the result of our work, a pristine cove.

We need to be relentless to protect the World Ocean, it is big and mighty but it is fragile.

Julien