What is a community? It’s a collection of living things, joined by interrelationships and interdependencies. Say the word “community,” and many of us think of our human neighbours — family, friends, teachers, shopkeepers, doctors, and others that help us to survive. But, if we look closely, we see that we depend on other living things too. The plants that create the oxygen we breathe, the insects that pollinate our crops, and countless other species that complete the web of life are also part of a healthy community.
Look at a map and you’ll see that our Canadian community is nestled among three great oceans. All of us are connected to those oceans by way of waterways and the atmosphere, not to mention innumerable ocean products that we find on the shelves of our supermarkets and pharmacies. Many ocean species migrate through inland communities on their way to summer nesting grounds or wintering areas. Even our Canadian heritage connects us to the sea. Human communities and ocean communities are indeed inseparable.
You can help your students connect with their ocean community.
Marine Communities — Still Under Threat
Human communities may depend on marine communities to survive, but we continue to place ocean health at risk. Anyone who thinks the responsibility lies only with the 25 per cent of Canadians that live on our coasts should realize that we all affect ocean health. Eighty per cent of marine pollution originates from land-based activities, generated mainly by individuals and communities, not industries. It is transported from far inland to oceans by our waterways and atmosphere.
- reduce contaminants, such as sewage and persistent organic pollutants (POPs include pesticides that “bio-accumulate” in the food chain and reach lethal levels);
- curb contamination from heavy metals, oils, and hydrocarbons (some heavy metals are lethal even in low concentrations);
- reduce marine debris (litter that reaches oceans through winds, rivers, and dumping at sea can harm wildlife);
- stop coastal habitat destruction resulting from shoreline construction and wetland and salt-marsh alteration; and
- conserve inland habitat for migratory marine species.
Catch the Wave! Celebrate Oceans Day, June 8
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Organize a “beach sweep” and clean up litter along coastal beaches or inland waterways. Remember that water — and everything it carries — eventually flows to the ocean.
- Adopt a waterfront, such as a stream bank, marsh, or lakeshore. Improve it as wildlife habitat by planting native grasses, shrubs, and trees along the banks.
- Organize a trip to a local aquatic habitat.
- Trace your watershed from your community to the sea.
- Set up a display in a public place to inform people about the importance of oceans, your community’s connection to them, and ways that members of your community can help.
- Create a play about your community’s connection to oceans and perform it for your school or another local audience.
- Write an article or letter to the editor of a local newspaper informing community members how they can be more “ocean friendly.”
- Ask your town council to make Oceans Day an official annual event in your community. Don’t forget to let us know about your Oceans Day activities.
Test Your “Ocean IQ”
How does your class score on this simple “Ocean IQ” test?
- Which produces more of the Earth’s oxygen?
- Where is more plant and animal life found?
- in oceans
- on land
- Which is the main source of ocean pollution?
- waste dumped by industries
- runoff from yards, pavement , and farms
- Which of these factors influences climate and rainfall more?
- the ocean
- the rotation of the Earth
- What percentage of ocean pollution originates from land-based activities?
- 20 per cent
- 40 per cent
- 60 per cent
- 80 per cent
1 – b
2 – a
3 – b
4 – a
5 – d
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