51st Earth Day: Protecting our Oceans, Ecosystems, and Wildlife

Most of our planet is covered by water. Whether it stretches thousands of miles across our oceans or simply a lake beside our home, water is all around us, within us, and frankly, innately us. Like so many coastal residents, we too rely on water activities such as surfing or swimming to connect with our oceans. Some chose to sit comfortably beside the shoreline, feeling the seabreeze, and staring off into the abyss to remember the bigger picture around us. Aside from the manner in which individuals connect with our oceans, we as a species must constantly remind ourselves of the vast interconnectedness of our oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, down to the tiniest water droplet.

To celebrate Earth Day this year, Brizaga co-workers, myself (Lea) and Anthony, set out to experience our ocean and its complex wildlife in its rawest form: freediving with wild sharks. I, as a long-term Floridian, have lived alongside the untamed nature that Florida has to offer my whole life, whereas Anthony, a native New Yorker, got the opportunity to relish and take in my state’s unique wildlife for the first time. During our excursion, we saw bull sharks, jellyfish, and one reef shark, all of which signaled to us the sheer expansiveness of our oceans’ vast marine life.

As I was following the fins of an eight foot bull shark, I noticed something out the corner of my eye, floating, lifeless… It was a plastic bag. Commonly mistaken for a jellyfish, plastic bags floating in the ocean mimic the movements and look of these majestic creatures. It gravely dawned upon us that our oceans need protecting, namely our marine wildlife and ecosystems, so that all beings worldwide may continue to enjoy these beautiful and unparalleled moments.

On this Earth Day, we should all commit to doing our part, whether that be picking up trash in your local neighborhood, educating others on the importance of sharks and other species, or simply moving away from single-use plastics and transitioning to reusable items. All of these actions foster a more sustainable and flourishing planet. Earth Day reminds us each and every year that we all have a responsibility to ensure that we each not only get to enjoy this planet and its undeniable lure, but also to protect these delicate ecosystems for future generations to enjoy as well. Similar to the way that our planet has cycles and systems it abides by, humanity should abide by the same laws and remember that every action has a reaction.

Simple things can make a big difference – Reduce your single-use plastics intake, use reef friendly sunscreen when visiting our oceans, be kind and respectful to all wildlife around you, and try to live by the leave no trace lifestyle, especially when out in nature.

When we give back to our planet, it gives back to us. Happy 51st Earth Day everybody!

Check out our tips on how to Celebrate Earth Day From Home here.