10 Easy Ways to Help Protect Marine Life

sea turtle trying to eat plastic bag underwater

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The ocean is downstream of everything, so all of our actions, no matter where we live, affect the ocean and the marine life it holds. Those who live right on the coastline will have the most direct impact on the ocean, but even if you live far inland, there are many things you can do that will help marine life.

Eat Eco-Friendly Fish

Our food choices have a significant impact on the environment—from the actual items we eat to the way they are harvested, processed, and shipped. Going vegan is better for the environment, but you can take small steps in the right direction by eating eco-friendly fish and eating locally as much as possible. If you eat seafood, eat fish that is harvested sustainably, which means eating species that have a healthy population, and whose harvest minimizes bycatch and impacts on the environment.

Limit Your Use of Plastics, Disposables and Single-Use Projects

Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? That is a name coined to describe the vast amounts of plastic bits and other marine debris floating in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, one of five major ocean gyres in the world. Sadly, all the gyres seem to have their garbage patch.

Plastic stays around for hundreds of years can be a hazard to wildlife and leaches toxins into the environment. Stop using so much plastic. Buy things with less packaging, don't use disposable items and use reusable bags instead of plastic ones wherever possible.

Stop the Problem of Ocean Acidification

Global warming has been a hot topic in the ocean world, and it is because of ocean acidification, known as 'the other global warming problem.' As the acidity of the oceans increases, it will have devastating impacts on marine life, including plankton, corals and shellfish, and the animals that eat them.

But you can do something about this problem right now. Reduce global warming by taking simple steps that will likely save money in the long run: drive less, walk more, use less electricity and water—you know the drill. Lessening your "​carbon footprint" will help marine life miles from your home. The idea of an acidic ocean is scary, but we can bring the oceans to a more healthy state with some easy changes in our behavior.

Be Energy-Efficient

Along with the tip above, reduce your energy consumption and carbon output wherever possible. This includes simple things like turning off the lights or TV when you're not in a room and driving in a way that increases your fuel efficiency. As Amy, an 11-year old reader said, "It might sound strange, but being energy efficient helps the Arctic marine mammals and fish because the less energy you use, the less our climate heats up—then the ice won't melt."

Participate in a Cleanup

Trash in the environment can be hazardous to marine life, and people too! Help clean up a local beach, park or roadway and pick up that litter before it gets into the marine environment. Even trash hundreds of miles from the ocean can eventually float or blow into the ocean. The International Coastal Cleanup is one way to get involved. That is a cleanup that occurs each September. You can also contact your local coastal zone management office or department of environmental protection to see if they organize any cleanups.

Never Release Balloons

Balloons may look pretty when you release them, but they are a danger to wildlife such as sea turtles, who can swallow them accidentally, mistake them for food, or get tangled up in their strings. After your party, pop the balloons and throw them in the trash instead of releasing them.

Dispose of Fishing Line Responsibly

Monofilament fishing line takes about 600 years to degrade. If left in the ocean, it can provide an entangling web that threatens whales, pinnipeds and fish (including the fish people like to catch and eat). Never discard your fishing line into the water. Dispose of it responsibly by ​recycling it if you can, or into the garbage.

View Marine Life Responsibly

If you're going to be viewing marine life, take steps to do so responsibly. Watch marine life from the shore by going tide pooling. Take steps to plan a whale watching, diving trip or other excursions with a responsible operator. Think twice about "swim with dolphins" programs, which may not be suitable for dolphins and could even be harmful to people.

Volunteer or Work With Marine Life

Maybe you work with marine life already or are studying to become a marine biologist. Even if working with marine life isn't your career path, you can volunteer. If you live near the coast, volunteer opportunities may be easy to find. If not, you can volunteer on field expeditions such as those offered by Earthwatch as Debbie, our guide to ​insects, has done, where she learned about sea turtles, wetlands, and giant clams!

Buy Ocean-Friendly Gifts

Give a gift that will help marine life. Memberships and honorary donations to non-profit organizations that protect marine life can be a great gift. How about a basket of environmentally-friendly bath or cleaning products, or a gift certificate for a whale watch or snorkeling trip? And when you wrap your gift - be creative and use something that can be re-used, like a beach towel, dish towel, basket or gift bag.

How Do You Protect Marine Life? Share Your Tips!

Are there things you do to protect marine life, either from your home or while visiting the coast, on a boat, or out volunteering? Please share your tips and opinions with others who appreciate marine life.

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Kennedy, Jennifer. "10 Easy Ways to Help Protect Marine Life." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/easy-ways-to-help-marine-life-2291549. Kennedy, Jennifer. (2023, April 5). 10 Easy Ways to Help Protect Marine Life. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/easy-ways-to-help-marine-life-2291549 Kennedy, Jennifer. "10 Easy Ways to Help Protect Marine Life." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/easy-ways-to-help-marine-life-2291549 (accessed June 1, 2023).