HOPE, STRENGTH, UNITY, LOVE

It has been quite a week for the United States. In the last ten days we have inaugurated a new President, hosted an incredible Women's March, faced some pretty big punches in the climate change area, had the DAPL approved despite the Standing Rock protests, and have been introduced to new policy changes that provoke varying reactions across the country.

Big change and big action can be very overwhelming and scary. Everyone around the country feels the divide that we face right now, no matter our specific partisanship or beliefs. It is really easy in times of uncertainty to succumb to hate and violence or to become incredibly frustrated by what we see. While that might be the natural reaction, it seems to me that there are better options for us moving forward. Instead of fear, we must rely on hope. Instead of surrendering to our weaknesses, we must find our inner strengths. Rather than expand the isolation we feel, we must unify as one Nation who has common goals and dreams. Lastly, rather than turning to hate... we must turn to love

Of course, these things are easier said than done. Nevertheless, we see this hope, strength, unity, and love in our Women's March on January 21. As expected, there were definitely a select few that decided to utilize this event as an excuse to be hateful or angry. The vast majority, though, simply used this day as an opportunity to show the power that we have in numbers, the importance of supporting each other, and the appreciation we should have for our democracy that allows us the freedoms necessary to march. It is events like these that should give us hope moving forward. When we feel deeply about issues regarding the equality of human beings or whatever else people decided was worth marching for, it is crucial that we act upon these emotions and turn them into something positive and productive.

As environmental activists and ocean lovers, the punches thrown toward climate change and its legitimacy are alarming to say the least. The climate change page being taken off whitehouse.gov   sends a loud and clear message that it isn't a topic of importance to our government. The truth of the matter is, our climate and the environment that we live in directly correlate with the health, prosperity, and lives of our citizens. Call me crazy, but that certainly sounds like the type of issues that may concern the government, the institution "of the people, by the people, for the people." I do not know how to say this any other way: climate change IS real, there is no longer a debate on that subject, and we must act now if we want our Earth to suffer as little as possible. It is now up to us to stand up for sustainable energy, clean water, less pollutants, sustainable harvesting, and overall a healthy ocean. 

Another event that has filled me with optimism is the organization of a March for Science. If you haven't heard already, this march is filled with scientists and activists who will not stand by and let people brush aside the problems we face in regards to the climate. What I love about this organization effort is that it emphasizes nonpartisanship in science, and unifies people of all political beliefs to come together for a common goal. Science is based on facts, not opinions. It should not be something that is split up by gender, race, belief systems, or anything else of the sort. It is something we can all stand behind and care about. This Earth that we live on is is something that we all have in common no matter where we come from or what we stand for. It is critical that we take these opportunities to educate the U.S. and all countries across the world about these matters and why they should be a priority to each and every one of us. 

The point is: we shouldn't be letting our political beliefs divide us. We clearly have the capacity to unify and fight for what we believe in, and we all have the ability to hear others out and respect their opinions. At Save the Mermaids, we believe that we are all brothers and sisters of the sea. We feel love and compassion for all of you, no matter whether you agree or disagree with us. It is the way we go about these differences that defines how we will function as a nation, and that will ultimately decide the fate of our environment. We hope that we can all find the hope and strength  necessary in order to unify through love rather than hate. 

Best Fishes,

Aqua Ally

We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.
— J.K. Rowling

The Impacts of Noise

Noise itself in the ocean is not the issue. Many ocean lovers have been able to enjoy the sounds of cetaceans communicating (such as dolphins and whales), the roaring of waves onto the shore, and the barking of seals and sea lions. The ocean is filled with an abundance of life... and living things make noise. That being said, the ocean is also seen by many as a sanctuary. A place of peace and tranquility, as being underwater brings a feeling of silence and thought that only few place on the Earth can bring.

For these inevitable noises to be harmless, they must be natural. The unnatural and harmful noises are man-made, and include: trans-oceanic shipping, SONAR, civil engineering projects, seismic exploration, other modes of transportation, etc. 

Thankfully, our world is used to having to rebound from the pollution and harm that comes with the way man lives, and many animals and habitats have been able to adapt. Unfortunately, though, this is certainly not always the case and this noise pollution affects animals, their habitats, as well as their echolocation and other forms of communication. 

The fact that sound travels four times faster in water than air only escalates the problem at hand. The sounds can travel farther, are louder, and thus are even more harmful. 

One of the main problems is the affect on cetacean communication. Whales communicate at relatively low frequencies, which are overcome by the higher frequencies of the artificial noises. These sounds drown out the noises of whales calling for their calves, mates, and other relationships that are essential to their everyday life. With these drawbacks with communication, the migration patterns and feeding patterns can be negatively affected. 

Echolocation is another huge part of many marine animals' lives. It allows for animals to interpret objects for what they are, find their prey, and detect other organisms nearby that could be beneficial or harmful to them. The noise counteracts the waves that are used in echolocation, and can alter the interpretation that these animals have.

Not only do these sounds inconvenience animals in communicating and finding their prey, but they can be fatal. In 2000, at least seventeen whales were found stranded on the beaches of the Bahamas due to the U.S. Navy's SONAR system. 

Scientists are still trying to figure out what the long term effects could be, and how they can help limit these problems while still being practical in what is necessary for our protection and well-being as people, too. Being aware of these issues is the first step, and the more people that are educated on the potential disaster that can ensue from harming our oceans for our gain, the better.

Best Fishes,

Aqua Ally 

 

If we go on the way we have, the fault is our greed and if we are not willing to change, we will disappear from the face of the globe, to be replaced by the insect.
— Jacques Cousteau

We Stand With Standing Rock

Thanksgiving is a beautiful National Holiday based on standing together as human beings, no matter our race or cultural differences, in order to enjoy and assist each other. It is a time to be thankful for all the people we love, all the things we love, and all the nature we love. In order to be truly thankful for all people, we must respect their simple rights as human beings. 

Unfortunately, as a Nation we are not respecting the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The information as follows is directly from a "NO-DAPL" website

"The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is located in southern North Dakota. The Reservation was established under Article 2 of the Treaty of Fort Laramie of April 29, 1868. Starting in 1877 and continuing in 1889 & the 1950s and 1960s their land has continuously been taken away by the U.S. government.  

In 2015 the Army Corps of Engineers approved a heavily controversial project known as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).  The pipeline is planned to be constructed over sacred burial grounds and across the Missouri River, a major source of water for millions of people.  The Corps approved this project without consulting with the Sioux a direct violation of the National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106)

Energy Transfer Partners is the huge oil giant behind the construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.  The project has over 3 billion dollars worth of investments coming from big banks such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and HSBC. 

In April, the Sacred Stone Camp was established in order to resist the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).  Since then, indigenous peoples and their allies across the globe have come to North Dakota to Stand with Standing Rock. They have been met with what can only be described as violence from the Morton County Sheriff's Department better known by the water protectors as domestic terrorists. The Sioux along with their allies have refused to respond to these attacks with anything other than nonviolent protesting and prayer.   

Our goal is to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline."

 

As environmental activists and as citizens of the United States of America, it is our duty to protect our water, our rights granted by acts such as the National Historic Preservation Act, and support those who fight for these essential aspects of our Country. Groups have made shirts to raise awareness and donate to the cause, and there are plenty of websites, including the link listed above, that give options in order to help their efforts. Peaceful protest is a right. It should not be combatted with tear gas, concussion bombs, or freezing cold water hoses. 

Stand with Standing Rock; stand for the freedom of speech and freedom of assembly that our Country is built upon.

Best Fishes,

Aqua Ally

 

Unity is oneness in purpose, not sameness of persons.
— Tony Evans

Shark Finning: Ban The Trade

Shark finning. It is a practice that kills between 88 million and 100 million sharks per year. At this rate, many species of sharks are under a serious threat of becoming endangered or extinct. Due to their status of apex predator, they are at the top of the food chain and extremely important for sustaining a healthy, balanced ecosystem. 

The way shark finning is carried out is extremely inhumane. These sharks are caught, pulled onto boats, have their fins cut, and then are released back into the ocean without a chance to live. The rest of their bodies are rarely utilized, making this an extremely wasteful process as well as unethical. You'd think these shark fins must have some sort of magical nutritional value for shark finners to stoop to this level to get them, right? Wrong. They lack any significant nutritional or medicinal value. In fact, if you think about it, it makes sense that they wouldn't be healthy for us to eat at all. Apex predators. This means that they are one of the last in line to eat in the food chain. As us ocean enthusiasts and plastic-free-for-the-sea advocates know, toxins travel up the food chain through bioaccumulation and biomagnification, making sharks one of the most toxic of the animals we could eat. Healthy? Probably not. Flavorful? The broth is the only part of shark fin soup that gives it the flavor, the fins just act as a form of texture. So, now that we know why shark finning is so wrong and pointless, lets find a way to eliminate it before it's too late.

Oceana has formed a petition to Congress to ban the trading of shark fins in the U.S. Despite the United State's decision to make shark finning illegal in American waters, trade is still free game at the moment. Signing The Shark Trade Elimination Act of 2016 is the next step toward a healthier, more sustainable ocean and protecting sharks, which play a vital role in these efforts. 

Click this link and sign the petition to urge Congress to push this bill forward.

Best Fishes,

Aqua Ally

We must plant the sea and herd its animals using the sea as farmers instead of hunters. That is what civilization is all about - farming replacing hunting.
— Jacques Cousteau

Raise your mermaid fins and VOTE

According to fairvote.org, of those eligible to vote, only about 60% end up doing so in years of presidential elections. To some that may seem like a good percentage, but in my opinion, we should continue to raise our standards.

This election is big. No matter where you stand on the presidential vote, go out there and let your voice be heard. Many people worry that due to the electoral college and historical voting patterns, our vote in California and in other states doesn't really make much of an impact. While there may be a degree of truth somewhere in there, it doesn't mean we shouldn't act on our duty as citizens to vote and share our opinions.

Even if you don't believe you can make a substantial difference with who the president ends up being, you have huge impact elsewhere. In the state of California, we have 17 propositions to vote on this election. This does not go to an electoral college. This is YOUR vote. It's your time to SHINE! When it comes to the direct effects on the wellbeing of the planet, there are no excuses! We are here as environmental activists. As ambassadors of the sea. We can force politicians to take us seriously by simply going out and voting. 

In this election, we have the chance to vote YES on proposition 67 and NO on proposition 65 in order to ban plastic bags in the state of California. Finally, we are at the point where we can make big, big change. While these elections are confusing and difficult, they are worth the struggles in their potential rewards. They make us really think about our lifestyles, our ideas, and what precedents we want to set for future generations. Let us set a precedent to be ocean minded, to care for one another, and to love the world we live in. 

RAISE YOUR FINS, MERMAIDS! Shine! Sparkle! Smile! VOTE!!!!!

Your voice matters to the future of the United States and to wherever else you may live. Your voice matters to us. Share your stories of what you're doing to inspire others to vote, tell us how you make our environment cleaner, what you do in order to be plastic free for the sea. Tag us on Instagram, send us SPLASHES on Facebook or through email. We want to hear from you!

Together we can be the change.

Best Fishes,

Aqua Ally

 

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter
— Martin Luther King Jr.

Ban The Bag! YES on 67, NO on 65

Take a minute and think about how often plastic bags are used every week, every day, every hour, and even every minute. It is estimated that 1 trillion bags are used per year, meaning that about 2 million bags are used per minute. How long are they used for? It's a matter of minutes or even seconds, really. Some people know the drastic ways that plastic affects our oceans, health, and economy... but others have never even heard about it. Let me put it for you simply:

  • Plastic bags can be consumed by or entangled around marine animals. This either kills them from starvation or suffocation. This affects at least 267 species of marine animals.
  • The plastic debris flows with the currents and washes ashore of beaches all over the world, including remote ones that have no other way of contacting with the pollution of the big cities. This can negatively affect our economy because people come from all over the world to visit beautiful beaches. If the beaches are filled with trash, tourism will decline and this will be a huge economic loss.
  • Toxins that are emitted from the plastic latch onto the fats of fish, become bioaccumulated, and when we eat the fish the toxins have become biomagnified, resulting in unhealthy toxins in our body that can lead to other health problems.
  • Plastic is made from oil, a non-renewable resource.

It's difficult to avoid when it's the only option stores have. But now, we can change this. As California voters, if we vote YES on Proposition 67 and NO on Proposition 65, we have the chance to ban plastic bags in California. Plastic bags are for convenience, right? Well, if you see the problems we have with them, it is a lot more convenient to vote on a ballot to ban them than to avoid them at all costs on your own. If we come together as a single force against ocean pollution, we CAN make a difference on bigger scales! Bans from whole states, and hopefully soon we can even do this on a national level. There is nothing we can't accomplish TOGETHER.

As a high school senior, many of my friends are able to vote this year. It is such an exciting time! The only issue is, not many of them even look at the propositions, nor are they educated about them. This is what I'm trying to change. With the help of family and friends, I started an awareness project. Two of my best friends and I sat in the back of a pickup truck at a parking lot overlooking the ocean and cut and painted signs out of cardboard. Another friend of mine decided to help me take the awareness photos attached below. I teamed up with the Surfrider Foundation to organize a beach cleanup after the photoshoot, and then I posted the pictures on social media in order to raise awareness in a creative way that hopefully not only gets the attention of voters and ocean enthusiasts, but also inspires people to do similar things to advocate for the ocean. Who doesn't love being a mermaid and playing in the ocean and simultaneously spreading awareness for a great cause? If you love arts and crafts, try making some signs of your own. I'm not a crafty person, and I still had such a blast painting with my friends. We can make these things FUN. If we learn to spread awareness about huge world-wide issues in a captivating, fun, creative way... it will not only be a great way of enjoying life for us but also more interesting for others. Enjoy these photos and share them with family and friends! 

Best Fishes,

Aqua Ally

 

Together we can face challenges as deep as the sea and as high as the sky
— Sonia Ghandi