Be an Ocean Guardian in 2014

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In the past few years, Tree and I have made an effort to educate ourselves about environmental issues and spread awareness about the ones we find particularly alarming. In fact, our two most popular Sprinter Life posts–The Pacific Ocean Trash Vortex and Fukushima–are both about ongoing man-made disasters (barely acknowledged by the media) that are still devastating marine life.

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The ocean is amazing.  Even though it covers more than 70% of the planet and is home to 50% of life on earth, most of it is still a mystery. It’s the last frontier–and, sadly, at this rate, we’re going to destroy it before we ever fully understand it.

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I grew up on the coast of Southern California, and my family and I went to the beach often.  A born and raised Angeleno, the ocean was the only aspect of nature I knew intimately. With the smell of coconut oil and sunshine wafting through the air, I stretched my small body on oversized towels, spit cherry pits in the sand, ate avocado sandwiches, dug for sand crabs, collected shells, and jumped waves on the shore because I was too afraid to venture in past my knees.  One day, after staring at the water for what felt like an eternity, I pushed past my fear and ran deeper into the ocean. When the next set came, I dove under the breaking wave and felt the immense rush of fluid simultaneously resist and support my effort through to the other side.  It was the perfect merging of belonging  and otherness–of surrender and power.  

Somewhere balanced between states of opposition–friction and fluidity, bravery and fear, hubris and humility–I learned the importance of summoning courage, diving in head first, and trusting “the flow” in life.  It might have been the most important lesson I have ever learned, which isn’t surprising: Direct experiences with nature often translate into wisdom for the ages. 

To this day, I get excited at the first whiff of ocean air, the buoyant kiss of negative ions.  I celebrate the briny smell like it’s life itself, because it is.

 The sea is a womb of salt water and stardust.  It’s where we come from; the stuff we’re made of. 

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As  important as I think it is to spread awareness about problems like the Pacific Trash Vortex and Fukushima, I believe it’s also important to share solutions.  Recently, we received a comment on The Pacific Ocean Trash Vortex post that cracked me up because it’s so true.  The person wrote,“I love how people love to blame “Humans” like they aren’t themselves, no snowflake ever feels responsible for an avalanche.”

So, I’m going to start by admitting that I am human, and that my selfish behavior and lazy thinking are the problems.   I am a consumer. I feel entitled to be comfortable and conveniently block out thoughts that hold me accountable to the horror us ‘humans’ create.  Admitting this sucks, but I’m doing it because I want to do better.

Fortunately, I’m not the only one.

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Our friends at Bodhi surf school are doing better, and they’re inviting us all to do the same.  They have declared themselves Ocean Guardians, drafted and signed a pledge to take concrete action to protect our oceans, and now are hosting a friendly contest to encourage us all to sign the pledge and become Ocean Guardians too.

I proudly signed the pledge to be an Ocean Guardian, and I’m working on my “Best Actions” plan to WIN THE CONTEST!!!  First prize is a free week of yoga and surf with the Bodhi team, a true dream vacation in Uvita, Costa Rica (more info below).  I encourage you to do the same.  Tree and I had the privilege of surfing with them when we traveled through Central America, and I can’t speak highly enough about their good energy, individually and as a group.

Sign the Ocean Guardian Pledge.  Together we CAN make a difference. 

Turtles -Tortugas Cano Island Tour

 

All information below comes directly from Bodhi Surf School:

Ocean Guardian Pledge

We at Bodhi Surf are serious about our love for and commitment to the ocean. Below are 10 concrete actions that you can take on a regular basis to help protect the oceans, promote their importance, and encourage others to do the same. We thank you for your dedication; it is together that we will have the greatest impact of all.

The Ten

1. Use Less, Reuse What You Do Have

Make a point of making less impact. Use less water: for showers, dishes, brushing teeth, shaving, washing your car, watering your yard; less energy: drive less, do all errands on one trip, bundle up before heating your house, use fans instead of air conditioning, disconnect appliances not in use; buy fewer “things”; buy sustainable food and local products. We are all connected and everything we do impacts everything on earth, the ocean included.

2. Use Less Plastic

So much plastic ends up in the ocean, killing and endangering all of its marine life. Plastics never break down fully, so even the most minuscule pieces are starting to find their way into even the smallest marine creatures, with detrimental and deadly effects. Use reusable shopping bags and water bottles, store food in non-disposable containers, use cloth diapers if possible, do not use straws for your drinks, Styrofoam cups or containers. Refuse first, reduce second, reuse third, and recycle fourth.

3. Choose Safe & Sustainable Seafood

The depletion of marine life due to overfishing, irresponsible capture, and contamination of the environment is becoming a major marine issue. Do research into what seafood is sustainable and healthy in your area. Responsible practices to look out for are: whether the species is endangered or vulnerable, if it was caught with low impact fishing gear (avoid trawling, gill nets and explosives), if it was captured during its reproduction season (closure season), and if it has reached its mature age and size for reproduction.

4. Be Kind To The Beach

Always clean up after yourself when spending time at the beach, and clean up any garbage you see on a regular basis. You can also make a point to do beach cleanups with friends, family, and community groups.

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5. Don’t Purchase Or Consume Products That Exploit Marine Life

There are many items that exploit marine life and marine habitat. Avoid purchasing items such as coral jewelry, tortoise shell ornaments and hair accessories (made from hawksbill turtles), and shark products.

6. Engage in Responsible Ocean Tourism

Take advantage of the ocean for recreational purposes; it is vast, beautiful, and always remarkable. Practice sustainable ocean tourism as much as possible. For example, consider “zero impact” activities such as kayaking or stand-up paddle-boarding. If you choose to do a cruise, research to find the most eco-friendly options available. If you enjoy sport fishing, always practice catch and release and avoid the “hero” photograph.

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7. Do Not Disturb The Coastal Environment

Respect coastal integrity by not taking animals, shells, corals, or other “pretty” beach objects home with you. While you may think such an act is small, with so many visiting the beaches it can be very impactful when everyone engages in it.

8. Invest Time Or Money In Marine Protection Organizations

There are a wide variety of organizations that exist to help protect the ocean and all of its inhabitants. Organizations such as The Ocean Conservancy, Oceana, Blue Ocean Institute, and Surfrider, all endeavor to keep our oceans and beaches clean, healthy, and fruitful. Locally, we work hand-in-hand with the MarViva and Keto Foundations to strengthen community-based programs for the development of Best Practices for Sustainable Marine Tourism in Costa Rica. The initiatives aim to safeguard the habitat and ecosystem health while improving the quality of life of the responsible users of the ocean resources.

9. Become An Ocean Spokesperson

We are all connected to the ocean and our well-being depends on its well being. With that in mind, we should all educate ourselves on the importance of the ocean, the perils that face it, and how we can help. We work closely with Geoporter whose mission is to teach the community and visitors alike how to use high tech decision-making tools to learn about its interdependence with the ocean. These sustainable initiatives can be duplicated in any community around the globe and with this knowledge we can spread the word and begin to bring about change for the better.

10. Affect Change In Your Circle & Community

If you live near the ocean, there should be plenty of opportunities to get involved, and encourage friends and family to do the same. Participate in beach cleanups, give your business to those companies that are sustainable, have ocean documentary nights, and encourage others to do the same.

Sign the Ocean Guardian Pledge.

The Contest

My Ocean Guardian Journey is a friendly contest that promotes marine conservation and environmental awareness, and allows you to share your journey on becoming an Ocean Guardian. It is important to keep in mind that you don’t have to be living near the coast to be an Ocean Guardian; actions such as reducing plastic use, consuming responsibly grown/caught ocean products, and curbing your energy use will all help contribute to a healthier ocean.

The contest consists of two categories: BEST ACTIONS and BEST IDEAS. Contestants in both categories will have the chance to win one of several Bodhi Surf School prizes.

The BEST ACTIONS category allows you to describe things that you have done or are currently doing to help protect and conserve the ocean, and/or to help spread marine conservation and environmental awareness. The aims of this exercise are to:

  1. recognize the small or large actions that you are undertaking for our planet
  2. encourage innovation and thinking outside the box when it comes to finding environmental solutions
  3. identify actions that are simple to duplicate over time and space

The BEST IDEAS category is designed for you to explain the great ideas for marine conservation and ocean awareness that you have in mind, but have not yet put into action. The aims of this exercise are to:

  1. recognize your good ideas and motivate you to carry them out
  2. share those ideas in a way that encourages others
  3. promote new ideas

Contest Prizes

The prizes for BEST ACTIONS are the following:

  • 1st place – A FREE one-week Holistic Yoga and Surf vacation or Inner Surfer Surfing vacation with lodging at the Bodhi Bungalow
  • 2nd place – 25% discount on a one-week Holistic Yoga and Surf vacation or Inner Surfer Surfing vacation with lodging at the Bodhi Bungalow
  • 3rd place – 10% discount on a one-week Holistic Yoga and Surf vacation or Inner Surfer Surfing vacation with lodging at the Bodhi Bungalow

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The prizes for BEST IDEAS are the following:

  • 1st place – 10% discount on a one-week Holistic Yoga and Surf vacation or Inner Surfer Surfing vacation with lodging at the Bodhi Bungalow
  • 2nd place – Bodhi Surf School t-shirt and ten (10) high-resolution digital images of Bahia Ballena flora and fauna
  • 3rd place – Ten (10) high-resolution digital images of Bahia Ballena flora and fauna

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Contest Rules

To participate, contestants must do the following:

  1. Sign the Ocean Guardian Pledge, if you haven’t already done so
  2. Submit your ACTION or IDEA entry form (see details below)

Contestants may submit entries into either or both categories; however, contestants are only eligible to claim one prize. In the event that one individual is selected a winner in both categories, the individual will be given the opportunity to select from claiming one of his/her corresponding prizes. By submitting your Action and/or Idea you consent that the description and location of where your action and/or idea is performed may be republished by Bodhi Surf School in order to promote innovative ideas and encourage others to get involved.

Vacation prizes are scheduled based on availability. Vacation discount applies to individual winner only, prizes are non-transferable. Vacation prize travel must be completed by November 30, 2014. Travel companions of prize winners must pay regular Bodhi Surf vacation prices.

Contestants must provide their full name, email, and location of where their ACTION or IDEA is (to be) carried out. No personal information is ever shared outside of Bodhi Surf, nor is personal information ever sold to third-parties.

Bodhi Surf employees and their family members’ entries are welcome but not eligible for prizes.

Contest Submittal Period

Submissions will be accepted from November 1, 2013 – January 15, 2014.

Winners will be announced January 31, 2014.

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How To Submit Your ACTION or IDEA

To submit ACTIONS:

Fill out the ACTIONS Entry Form, which consists of your contact information, a maximum 500 word description of your action, and two (2) photos of yourself executing your action (or your action being executed).

To submit IDEAS:

Click Here and fill out the form to submit your idea.

How Your ACTION or IDEA Will Be Judged

Judges will enjoy ACTIONS and IDEAS that are:

  • Relevant to the Ocean Guardian Pledge
  • Creative
  • Easy to duplicate
  • Simple, yet impactful

Judging Panel

Judges are members of the Bodhi Surf Advisory Board and recognized Bodhi Surf Ocean Guardians.

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Super important side note:
If you have kids, or know kids, or just want the next generation to be better Guardians of the Earth than we are, buy them this book:  The Ancient  Realm by Sarah Leith Bahn.  It’s meant for grade-schoolers, but, mom and dad will enjoy it too. I certainly did.
Buy it on Amazon:
Buy it directly from the author’s website:

Comments

  1. You and Tree and now Sol inspire me to be a better person and a better steward of this great world. I get so caught up in my own little world sometimes that I forget or look the other way. Because of you I’ve made a pledge to myself to DO SOMETHING ! We are moving to Florida-Cape San Blas-and once we settle in I plan on getting involved with the Sea Turtle Project and the Save the Apalachicola River project-it’s because of you and the attention you draw to the world..and everyday I walk the beach I’ll be walking with a garbage bag to pick up whatever doesn’t belong there 🙂 I’m telling you this,not for a pat on the back,but as a way to keep me committed-you know that old Catholic guilt !! Thank you again for your inspiration . PS If you ever get to Florida you always have a place to stay !

    • Thank you Sandy!! I hope someday we do cross paths!! And I totally get the ‘say it out loud to make it real’ strategy. I do the exact same thing 🙂 I’m happy to hear that you’re getting more involved in being a steward for your environment. I’ve been thinking hard on ways that I can up my game as well. Let’s keep keep each other inspired. xo.

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