On Ocean Health

On Ocean Health

Article by Shannon Moss

Photographer and Designer


Living in Southern California, I see the ocean almost every day. I see its vastness spread out along a morning beach walk, I see waves glittering with surfers punctuating each wave, I see the water turn a metallic blue-grey as the sun sets over the horizon. The ocean is a part of life here, it’s part of the fabric of our California culture - and yet we often take its health for granted. We’re realizing now that the ocean is not immune to human impact – that though it seems separate to us, our impacts on land have now stretched below sea level as well.


The health of the ocean is something that affects everyone, not just surfers and swimmers and ocean lovers alike. Whether you live in a coastal town or in the middle of a land-locked state, the ocean is at the center of our lives. Scientists estimate that between 50-85% of the air we breathe comes from the ocean as it produces more than half of the world’s oxygen through phytoplankton (tiny ocean plants) photosynthesizing and drifting with the currents. So when you take a breath, you’re breathing in the Atlantic, the Pacific, all the oceans in a breath.


Our oceans cover 70% of the earth’s surface and are the largest carbon sinks that the earth has to offer. Carbon sinks are natural deposits that capture and absorb carbon from the atmosphere to reduce its concentration in the air. So as we continue to pump gases and fumes and carbon into the atmosphere, our oceans continue to store these CO2 emissions, and help the planet avoid dangerous temperature increases.


Protecting our largest carbon sink and our largest producer of oxygen is incredibly important. And unfortunately, the past century of plastic pollution, overfishing, and the vast amounts of CO2 emissions on land have not helped. Luckily, amazing organizations are doing incredible work to get the word out about ocean health and encourage ocean lovers and land dwellers alike to care, and more importantly, act.


Changing Tides Foundation is one of those organizations. Founded in 2016 by 5 female surfers who felt called to meet the challenges that our planet was facing, Changing Tides has grown to encompass a large community of gamechangers who want to advocate for the planet. With mentorship programs, movements, and community challenges, it’s easy to join in on their causes. They also host surf meet-ups, art shows, workshops and more to get local communities gathered around a cause. As more and more people identify as advocates for the planet, and as more and more people become educated on the impact that small actions can have, we know that change will come.

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