If you grew up in the 1990’s, you probably loved shark week. I know I did. For shining moment of time I was basically an expert on Great White Sharks. I was in 5th grade. I don’t want to say I peaked early but…
Anyway, Shark Week on Discovery Channel has started. Since Shark Week is a fun, strange, cultural phenomenon, I thought I’d use the hype to talk about some disturbing events happening in our oceans.
Oh the humanity!
More manatees have died in 2021 than in any other recorded year. They’re also largely starving. The seagrass they’re eating is dying, causing a chain reaction that results in manatee starvation. Pollution, combined with warmer waters, combined with algae is my simplified explanation of why the manatees are starving. It’s really not great, and it’s devastating for Florida’s coast.
How about a clam bake?
I think most of us love manatees, those adorable mermaid cows of the sea. But what about clams and mussels, or shellfish in general? Because of the recent heat wave, up to a billion (yes, billion with a freaking b) clams and mussels died in waters off the Vancouver coast. Apparently they were boiled alive, with thermal temperature images showing 122 degrees. The loss of a billion animals, even ones as prolific as shellfish, is mind blowing.
Ok, so what?
I started with shark week to hook you. Not only are sharks apex predators, but they are a keystone species – one that if they were to disappear, their ecosystem would be disproportionally affected. Manatees are also a keystone species (and more adorable than sharks). Mussels are also important to a thriving ocean community. Look, we know that a billion shellfish died, but likely, it’s much worse. Mussels and clams? That’s just what we can see.
Y’all learned about food chains and ecosystems in elementary school. The death of animals at this level is a sign, an indicator, of climate change. It’s not just happening in one spot, it’s happening all over, and to different species. Species that create the chains of life for our ocean’s ecosystem – and for ours too!
I know. All of us are wound up in our current stressors. We’re worried about the continuing pandemic, we’re worried about our children, our job, our economy, our nation.We can’t get existential about climate change.
But we should.
I’m not saying that these other worries aren’t important. Absolutely, they are. I’m worried about a lot of things. However, there is something happening, an intrinsic shift in our climate, in our world. This shift will exacerbate all our other problems. In fact, climate change is already impacting people in a ton of ways (see my post on climate migrants and weather for more).
And I don’t have a solution. You know the drill, vote, donate. But, I think largely, get involved in helping the ecosystems in your community. Find out what’s endangered or in danger, and be active in helping. And I know, where’s the time? I get it. There are many simple steps that help impact change.
Bottom line? The world is not just a curated wilderness for humans to use and abuse. The world is a living thing, and we need to learn how to live with it, not how to make it fit for how we want to live.