Last week, I read an article that nearly broke my heart.
Bluntly called, How Coral Researchers Are Coping with the Death of Reefs, it chronicled stories of scientists learning to preserve their mental health while witnessing a barrage of devastating news about their life’s passion.
“When everything you are working to save is collapsing,” the author wrote, “how do you save yourself from collapsing too?”
And, although scientists acknowledged that the future of coral reefs seems bleak, there was one thing that did give them hope –
“My response to the gloom and doom is to ask what we can do about it.” That particular gem came from Ruth Gates, a researcher from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology that is working to develop “super-corals” that can withstand the new global climate.
“I find it worrying that people think we have time to plan and the research is telling us that we have to act.”
As a mere civilian myself, I often find myself at a loss of what I can do – it’s a bit late to dedicate my life to preserving our oceans, and there are only so many beach cleanups I can commit to.
Yet, although my time is limited, there is still an opportunity to participate – through donations.
If I truly care about the future of our oceans, why not give resources (albeit, meager) to the people that are out in the trenches, actually doing the work?
So, with this in mind, I present to you four inspiring marine conservation orgs that are doing the work and need your help:
The article I mentioned above introduced its message with a story about Madhavi Colton, a once die-hard optimist and researcher who was known as “Miss Enthusiasm.”
Although recent years have tested her optimism, she is now the proud director of Coral Reef Alliance, an organization that works to improve the resilience of coral reefs.
At the organization’s core is a program called Adaptive Reefs, which focuses on studying reefs that are thriving in unusual places and spreading their special genes to future generations that can withstand the new global climate.
A few years ago, I watched a viral TED Talk from a teenager who created a nonprofit dedicated to clearing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
As 5.5 billion tons of waste rests in our oceans, the Patch has evolved into a vortex of plastics, chemical sludge, and debris trapped by the North Pacific Gyre.
Five years later, and Boyan Slat’s organization is still at it, using technology to optimize the process. Amazingly, a full deployment of their systems is estimated to clean 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years.
Visit The Ocean Cleanup’s website here, and – while you’re at it – take 10 minutes to get inspired by Boyan’s TED Talk:
The Salk Institute is very near and dear to our hearts because a) they’re local and b) their recent initiative to use photosynthetic organisms to fight climate change could very well employ dinoflagellates and other phytoplankton.
(And, if you haven’t heard, dinoflagellates are kinda our thing.)
Salk’s goal is to use plants to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, then return the plants and carbon dioxide back to the ground.
If successful, the process could reduce global warming and, in turn, prevent further heating of our oceans.
While the work of nonprofits is awe-inspiring, they cannot do it alone. To create lasting change in the effort to preserve our oceans, they will need government backing (and tax dollars).
This is where Oceana steps in.
Oceana works to score policy victories in countries that govern much of the world’s marine life. Their highly-focused campaigns promote science-based fishery management and restoring the world’s oceans to abundance.
Although the global warming problem is serious and our oceans are vast, any droplet of help you can provide will make a difference.
Or, as scientist Alan Kay once said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”