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Save the whales! How your kids can protect the ocean

Get the kids excited about protecting marine wildlife on your seaside adventures this summer! Acclaimed children’s writer, Chris Vick, is passionate about ocean sustainability and his new book, The Last Whale, (a Bookseller Editor’s Choice for August!) is about what happens if we lose the great whales. In his own words, he tells us why we need whales and what we can all do on our summer holidays to help save them and sustain the ocean and planet that we all need.

Why are whales so important?

Whales are regulators, engineers and gardeners of the salt water ecosystem. When they feed, they suck up huge amounts of nutrients, which they move to the surface and across oceans, via ‘fecal blooms.’  Yes, that’s right, vast clouds of whale poo! Which feed the phytoplankton which provides half of our oxygen and absorbs huge amounts of carbon.

We need a healthy ocean and we need whales. But the whole system is under attack: The endless hunger and search for oil and gas, pollution and microplastics going into the water, overfishing and more. It’s under enormous pressure.

What can your family do to help?

Fortunately, people are increasingly aware and keen to act. The question I am most often asked, is: What can we do?  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and helpless but, in fact, the solutions are quite straightforward. Whilst we no doubt need commitment and action from governments and corporations, we can all ‘be the change we want to see’ with small actions that add up to a lot of change!

There’s a bunch of things you can do as a family to help lessen the impact of global warming on the ocean and the planet that are really easy:

1. Don’t get a new holiday wardrobe!

The manufacture of ‘more stuff’ that we all keep buying drives consumerism and has huge environmental impact. Buying fewer new things (especially clothes) instantly lowers your carbon footprint. And saves you money.  When you do need to buy, buying second hand and/or supporting companies that put sustainability at the heart of what they do makes sense.

2. Eat less fish and meat

There is nothing inherently wrong with either, but the sheer scale and rapid increases in industrialised fishing and farming, are having devastating impacts. Eating more plant-based goodness is healthier, cheaper and better for the planet. And less fishing will give the ocean a well earned chance to recover.

If you’re really craving fish and chips… Do some research (Marine Conservation Society have good guides). There are fish which have been caught with minimum impact. Avoid farmed fish and most deep ocean caught fish if you can. Same with meat; if you’re going to eat it, maybe eat ‘less and better.’ This means less pollution running into the sea.

3. Buy drinks in recyclable cans rather than plastic bottles

4. Walk or cycle when you can

It saves you money, gets you fit, and saves the planet.  And you get to experience a bit more of nature, not just ‘see’ it through a car window.

5. Avoid jet-skiing, water-skiing or taking boat trips   

These activities can displace or harm ocean animals, and if going on a dolphin day trip, do go, because it’s so much better than seeing these wonderful animals in a concrete tank, but make sure the skipper is signed up to codes or charters that guide them on how to behave near marine mammals.

6. Get involved in an organised beach clean!

Tired of seeing plastic on the shore?  There are lots of organised beach cleans, and you can do urban beach cleans, too.  A huge amount of the plastic on the beach got into the sea by being washed from towns into rivers. Prevention is better than cure. Here are some links:

As you can see, a few simple things can add up and will make you all feel just that bit better! When you’re walking on a beach and swimming in the ocean with the family, you’ll know that YOU have helped to keep it healthy, beautiful, and wonderful for generations of people (and whales, dolphins, starfish and seals) for many years to come.

Chris Vick’s fantastic new book The Last Whale will be published on 4th August 2022. Pre-order now for the perfect holiday read for you and the kids!

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