The recent COVID-19 social distancing restriction relaxation releases people to go out. Beaches, seaside and even underwater are where wanted by people for breathing fresh air. When we enjoy the places like this, have we ever thought about how we treat and should treat these spots?
The COVID-19 Aftermath
Gary Stokes from OceansAsia have found dozens of masks washed up on this beach and others around Hong Kong on every subsequent visit. While this problem was first noticed in Hong Kong, it is an international issue: divers have found face masks on the seabed while on clean-ups near Côte d’Azur, France; over 300 discarded gloves and face masks were seen and photographed around Southampton in the U.K. over four days by a British photographer, and it’s not hard to find masks littering the streets of most major cities. And more stories keep coming out regarding PPE littering towns across the globe.
Ocean Debris – It Has Happened Long Before COVID-19
Not only did the researcher find the problem, Harry Chan, the 2020 HKSAR Honours and Awards Medal of Honour (M.H.) in recognition of dedicated community service and contribution to the promotion of environment and conservation education, has been discovering the ocean trash issues since these five to ten years. Some ghost nets he had handled were huge – this size was about two ferries. Some ghost nets are as large as a basketball court. Those nets piled up. You’d find the coral covered by the ghost net, whitening by looking close. It causes them to lack sunlight exposure. Worse still, ghost nets could trap coral reef fish. Imagine how the divers feel if they get trapped by a ghost net. Ghost nets pose a danger to divers.
If the underwater ghost city formed by the abandoned ghost net scares you off a certain way, let’s see what’s amusing revealed Hidy Yu, the entertainer and the ocean clean-up leader, picks up from the water. “Other than ghost nets, which I have seen a lot underwater, I have organised shoreline clean-up—a lot of rubbish. Such as construction waste, medical waste, expired food, and animal bodies. You name it: Mahjong, broom, air conditioner, typical plastic bottles, beer cans, soft drink cans, plastic bags, and masks. The weirdest rubbish I have ever seen is Guan Yu’s figurine, which was thrown into the sea. I asked my buddy if we wanted to take it. My buddy nodded. So we picked it up. “said Hidy.
Let’s Give The Ocean Our Hands
Though you may not be able to dive like Hidy, nor explore the ocean like a fish, be citizen scientists to help the sea. It is simple – use your mobile phone camera to photoshoot what you have discovered and share it with reputable scientists and organisations. Please enable them to take a deeper look at the issue. It is already helping the ocean. Jamie Piyada Monmaneerat, the Project Leader of Manta Trust (Thailand), wants to educate people on the direction of being global citizens by realising how much impact people can leave on destroying the ocean ecosystem: “We impact these animals when inserting ourselves into the ocean that’s not our natural habitat. It’s theirs. It’s your choice to choose how much negative impact you want to leave. Try to reduce that to as minimum as possible, starting with choosing the right sunscreen before going into the ocean. Make sure they’re not full of chemicals and going to damage the coral reefs. As simple as that, be more mindful of what we are doing. Be more mindful that we are going into becoming a guest at another person’s house. Behave.”
“On land, it’s easier for us to conduct conservation because we see the trash. We believe there is no trash in the ocean as we cannot see them. Remember, nowadays, the sea has become our garbage pitch. “Sharon Kwok, the Director of Aquameridian Conservation & Education, added.
Marine Creatures Living Among Us
Be reminded that some marine creatures are not lively as fish; it does not mean they are lifeless. “Most people, especially those not living in the coastal areas and going into the sea, think they are rocks, but corals are animals. An indication that corals are animals is that they need sunlight to survive. Night divers observe another indicator. During the daytime, what is seen as just stumps of some coral stones that when during night time they start to bloom into some beautiful flowers.” Explained by William Restauro Villaver, a marine biologist from the Philippines.
We have different ways to appreciate marine creatures. But first, we should maintain their lives balance for us to enjoy. One of the fish crisis indicators suggested by Stan Shea, a marine ecologist from Bloom Association H.K., is the size of the fish we catch today compared with the old days. In the same fishing competition held in the U.S., the winner caught the fish weighing around 20 kg in 1956. In 1980, the biggest fish caught in the competition was 9kg. In 2007, it was 2.3kg. The change is not merely the fish size but also the fish categories. This is a phenomenon around the world.
We should understand marine creatures have functional stands in the ocean ecosystem. For example, “Humphead Wrasses are one of the few species that eat coral-attack Crown-of-thorns starfish. In other words, they can protect coral reefs. At the same time, the fearful sharks have an impact that does so much for our ocean. They keep the sea clean. They manage the balance of the ecosystem. They control the fish population. They like to go after the weak and sick fish, so the sharks are cleaners, and that’s important. “unveiled by Hau Cheuk Yu Loby, PhD in Marine Ecology of The University Of Hong Kong, and Andrea Richey, Executive Director of H.K. Shark Foundation.
How many times have you travelled for water? Natural as the ocean may seem, there is no such thing in the world that we can take for granted. Grateful or ungrateful? Ocean conservation leaders help us be aware of the hidden issues and drive us to be good global citizens. If there is no such problem, would there have been the coming up of these leaders mentioned above?
Explore “Why The Ocean Matters” For Free Of Charge
To commemorate World Ocean Days on 8 June, Matters Academy (https://www.matters.academy/) has created a “Why The Ocean Matters” booklet by inviting the ocean leaders, activists, and researchers for an interview or webinar to tell people about the ocean issues. We leverage these resources to create “Why The Ocean Matters” to spread awareness. Let’s find out more in Matters Academy’s “Why The Ocean Matters” Booklet.
Special thanks to: Ascent Partners Group Limited, ANewR Consulting Limited, Aquameridian Conservation & Education, Bloom Association HK, Brianstorm Content & Brandstorm Communications, Chinese YMCA College, Chong Gene Hang College, Cotton Spinners Association Secondary School, DEVE, Diving Adventure, ELCHK Lutheran Secondary School, Environment Bureau of HKSARG, ESRI China (HK) Limited, Gertrude Simon Lutheran College, Greeners Action, Harrow International School, Hong Kong Apparel Society Limited, Hong Kong Shark Foundation, Ju Ching Chu Secondary School (Tuen Mun), Malvern College Hong Kong, NEFIN GROUP, OceansAsia, Secure Information Disposal Services Limited, Thailand Manta Project, The Belgium-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College, WIT Holdings Limited, Yan Chai Hospital Tung Chi Ying Memorial Secondary School, & Matters Academy Speakers
Matters Academy’s objective is to promote, encourage, and enable learning for individuals better to understand sustainability, technology, and other subjects, offering calibre practitioner-perspective courses and lessons through a balanced and comprehensive curriculum, primarily concerned with providing quality education on sustainability. Other future topics to learners (ranging from youth to professionals), facilitating the growth and progression of sustainability-knowledgeable talents and helping them explore the career opportunities in the industry.
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Link to view digital booklet:
1) CHI – https://www.slideshare.net/ANewR/why-the-ocean-matters
2) ENG – https://www.slideshare.net/ANewR/why-the-ocean-matters-251920597
The StoryMap link:
1) CHI – https://arcg.is/1T4rCb
2) ENG – https://arcg.is/iaKXL
By: ANewR Consulting Limited, a digital environmental consultant headquartered in Hong Kong since 2008. Our expertise has grown into the context of air and water qualities, noise, green building, waste management, and remediation. With extensive know-how in environmental planning and assessment, feasibility study and policy review, ecological design, monitoring, and audit (EM&A), ANewR has matured to be a leading management consultancy. Standing in the digital transformation reign, ANewR has participated in various environmental digital projects – interactive 3D visualisation, immersive automation virtual environment, Virtual reality, automation system, and monitoring platforms.
(Website: https://anewr.com, LinkedIn: ANewR Consulting Group, Twitter: ANewR – Everyday Newer,YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnpvmxnR9hbNxytSfBdfV8Q/videos)