Whether you’ve stared in awe at a jellyfish that looks like glowing candy floss or you’ve had the chance to see a shark with its magnificent 3 rows of teeth up close, you know that the ocean is full of many such spectacular creatures. But a lot of these marine animals are in danger of extinction. Your simple actions can have a big impact on saving them. Read on to find out how you can protect endangered animals, regardless of whether you’re 5 or 15.
Start at a Young AgeNot everyone has the resources to fund wildlife protection campaigns or donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to animal rescue organizations. If you’re still in school, there are many ways you can do to not play a part in the destruction of marine and terrestrial animals.
Kind Treatment Towards Animals Never Goes Out of Style
Reading books and visiting animal sanctuaries is a great way to learn more about animals and develop a sense of compassion towards them. If you are old enough, you can even volunteer at sanctuaries and help injured animals. If you get the chance to see firsthand, the impact of, say, using plastic straws that may have gotten stuck in a turtle’s windpipe, you are likely to never use them again.
If you go on a snorkeling trip, conduct research on safe ocean practices and ask your instructor/ guide to give you some tips so that instead of harming the fish, you can just observe them from a distance and swim with them. And best of all, you don’t damage their natural habitat.
Tropical Fish are not your pets. Keeping pet fish in cramped bowls or aquariums promotes the concept of breeding animals in captivity. Around 20 million+ tropical fish and sea creatures are taken from the ocean to be sold as pets. If your parents or someone else has given you a goldfish, or plans to give you one, educate them on the dangers of keeping pet fish, which will prevent them from contributing to the problem anymore.
Don’t be influenced by movies. Find Dory on-screen rather than looking for her in your fish tank at home. Blue tangs have brushed past being endangered because of a spike in sales after the release of “Finding Nemo” and its sequel.
Don’t Promote the Sale of Animals/ Animal Parts
You may have found, that on your vacation to the coast, stalls were selling dried seahorses, fish trapped in tiny lockets or other animal parts. They may appear to be beautiful and whimsical, but these trinkets which bring us a second of joy cause immense suffering to animals. In fact, animals, such as seahorses and elephants are close to extinction because of such practices.
Get Involved in Beach Cleaning Activities
You’ve probably experienced it at least once in your life, when you’re at the beach and you scream in fear because a jellyfish-like plastic bag brushed against your leg. For us, this is a momentary inconvenience, but for many sea creatures, plastic waste is becoming a growing cause for extinction. Within the past 2-3 years alone, countless massive whales have washed ashore, chockfull of plastic waste.
Adopting an environmentally-friendly lifestyle starts when you’re a child. Sign up for beach cleanings and research on the dangers of using plastic. If you’re going to the beach for a picnic, pack reusable metal flasks instead of using disposable, plastic bottles.
If you’ve noticed that your family uses disposable plastic products frequently, enlighten them so that they may use alternative options that won’t harm the environment and the creatures living in it.
Related: Why Is Ocean Conservation Important?
If you're going to choose to eat seafood, then you need to make selections that doesn't pose a health risk, isn't over-fished and most of all is sustainable.
Don’t be fascinated by fancy restaurants serving up shark-fin soup. Apart from the fact that sharks are endangered, they are left to die in the ocean after having their fins chopped off.
Animal Shows Are Not a Source of Entertainment
Many animals are trained and bred in captivity for human entertainment. Whether it’s a depressed orca in a tiny fish tank, tired of children tapping at its glass cage, or a dolphin beaten till it jumps through hoops to make you smile, animal shows are torture. If seeing an animal show has been your dream, it’s time to change that plan. Instead of advocating cruelty towards animals, make it your mission to help other people understand just how terrible these shows are for the animals involved.
Make Animal Protection a Group Activity
Whether it’s a project for school or an extracurricular activity, get all your friends in the neighborhood together to promote the protection of endangered animals. You can distribute fliers (made from recycled paper of course) and spread awareness about animals close to extinction.
You can have a neighborhood pet adoption event to rehabilitate injured animals. Make it an annual or semi-annual event to keep reinforcing the importance of protecting endangered species.
Be Responsible When Engaging in Water Activities
Scuba diving, snorkeling, and other such water activities help the tourism industry thrive. Magnificent, vibrant coral reefs may be reduced to a few, shabby, dying corals. Animals may be temporarily blinded because of your camera flash. Your sudden urge to touch a pretty fish may stunt its growth.If you’re going on a tropical vacation with your family, no one is telling you to cancel your snorkeling plans. There’s nothing wrong with observing everything from a distance or even taking pictures without the flash. If scuba diving and snorkeling are done responsibly, they can be a great way to learn about what you’ll be protecting with your eco-friendly habits.
Childhood Lessons Last a Lifetime
Quitting the use of plastic from an early age can become a lifelong habit. Even if you’ve visited an animal sanctuary once in your life, it’s likely to have a lasting impact on you. If you start out as being an advocate for the protection of endangered species, you will eventually grow up to do even bigger, greater things to save animals.
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.