This Summer, David and I spent 35 days sailing around Vancouver Island with our colleagues and friends. With little to no internet connection on our boats we unplugged from the cyber world and journeyed into a digital detox, allowing our minds to wander and dream anew.
We woke up each morning to a varied landscape – some days we had calm seas; others, undulating waters with views of forested mountains, rocky cliffs, and small islands dotting the landscape of sea, clouds, and sky. The serenity and immense beauty of nature, wildlife, and open water provided a respite from the incessant noise of our modern world and the trivial distractions that pervade our lives.
Immersed in this splendor we sighted scores of eagles soaring and perched quietly on high branches, elk clustered in packs by the shoreline, sea otters and seals at play; we saw killer whales and gray whales spouting and watched as their long, barnacle encrusted bodies peaked out of the water and into our line of vision.
As I gazed out at these mysterious creatures, I wondered about their lives. I saw black bears, a lone wolf on the shore of an island, dolphins, shorebirds, and otters, and knew I wanted to leave a legacy of an abundant ocean, not just for the future, but also for now.
I’m always amazed that 70 per cent of Earth is composed of ocean, and that the vast majority of the ocean’s waters remain unexplored. They are filled with mystery and wonder and are a gift for us to learn from and enjoy. But in our collective greed and consumptive behavior, we pollute them with plastics, fertilzers, garbage, oil, and chemical toxins.
Each year, we throw away enough plastic to circle Earth four times – and there are billions of pounds of it that will never disintegrate, floating in the ocean and poisoning marine life. I wanted to lessen my impact on Mother Nature and not feel that my actions were part of the toxins in our waters or the plastics in the ocean. I wanted to find ways to leave a lighter footprint.
While sailing around Vancouver Island, I practiced the three R’s and: Rested, Rejuvenated, and Reimagined a world where sea otters and marine mammals are not ingesting plastic, and where black bears are not consuming fish with toxins. I was able to feel the magnificence of Earth as well as empathy for these beautiful animals and the abundance that is here for both our taking and our stewardship. It is our duty to protect what is precious and preserve the immense beauty that has been bestowed upon us.
My recent sea outing gave me the time to ponder our relationship with nature and reinforced a question I’ve been asking throughout my decades of environmental work: How do we apply compassion and empathy to our understanding of that which sustains us?
People often say “it takes a village” to create meaningful change. I say it takes a school of fish to move effectively in the political and environmental currents of our time and bring about a vortex of change and action.
I refrain from using single use plastics and I eat locally and organically grown food to support agricultural practices that build soil health and thereby lesson fertilizer and pesticides from draining into our waters. I believe that if we think of our planet as a living breathing being, we will be more apt to protect her.
By sharing our love of the ocean, and the work we do to protect it, David and I hope to inspire others to love and protect it too. Join us in our mission to raise awareness for the plight of the ocean. Every action counts and every ripple can create waves of change.