Oceans represent the last true frontier on this planet. In fact, we probably know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the sea floor. Even if you’ve never seen the ocean, you are connected to it. Water is constantly making its way from your area to the ocean through a network of streams, ponds, marshes, lakes, and rivers. Eventually, all water flows out to sea — that’s why it is crucial to keep these watery places clean and healthy.
Ocean Action and Awareness Projects
- Persuade your town council to declare this annual event.
- Visit an aquatic habitat. There’s no better way to get to know marine migrants and the challenges facing them than to visit their homes.
- Monitor a marine migration. Track the journeys of marine migrants to learn how they depend on healthy ocean, to survive.
- Adopt an urban waterfront or rehabilitate a salt-marsh. Your efforts will bring us closer to attaining another fine balance — the one between our needs and those of the other living things with whom we share our incredible coasts.
- Learn how you are connected to the world’s oceans. Oceans are often a “blind spot” in our awareness of the planet that gives us life. By understanding oceans we are better able to protect them — and ourselves. After all, healthy oceans are good news for everyone.
- Organize a beach sweep to clean up a shoreline. Shorelines are the link between land and water. These edges of our lakes, streams, wetlands, and oceans are essential to living things.
- Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Express your concerns about ocean habitats and the need to save them.
Ocean Life on the Move
Life is a highway for billions of creatures that live, breed, eat, and play in the ocean.
- One-tonne leatherback turtles follow warm Gulf Stream currents from the Caribbean Sea to Canada’s Atlantic coast each summer.
- Narwhals trek from the open, offshore waters of Baffin Bay to the narrow fiords and straits of the Arctic Archipelago as soon as the ice breaks up in spring.
- Harlequin ducks leave behind the cold comfort of their winter homes off the east and west coasts and head inland to breed along rushing, tumbling mountain streams.
- Salmon, born in rivers and lakes, swim thousands of kilometres out to sea, only to return years later to breed in their original hatching grounds.
These seasonal voyages, or migrations, occur so that living things can stay alive.
- Marine life may migrate to places that are warmer, have more food, or provide safe havens to bear their young.
- Many migrants, such as whooping cranes, salmon, and sea ducks, rely on both ocean and inland habitats to complete their journeys.
- Their survival depends on strong links in long, unbroken chains of feeding and resting habitats.
If a single habitat is damaged by human impact, a link in the migratory chain is broken.
- Often, the habitats most important to migratory species are the ones hardest hit by human activities.
- That’s why many marine migrants never arrive at their destinations.
- And that’s why we must try to protect beaches, mud-flats, rivers, and prairie potholes from coast to coast, from the top to the bottom of the Western Hemisphere.
You can make a real difference for marine migrants by undertaking ocean-related projects and by informing yourself and others about the challenges facing these species.
The Common Goldeneye
The common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula americana) is a tree-hollow nester that breeds in forested areas.
- Breeding range — boreal forest from Newfoundland to Alaska to Minnesota and New England.
- Wintering range — along both coasts and major river and reservoir systems such as the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi.
- Habitat — forested lakes and rivers in the breeding season; salt bays and seacoasts in winter.
- Threats — heavy metal contamination, deforestation, channelization of rivers, and industrial development along estuaries.
- Conservation concerns — researchers need to evaluate the loss of breeding habitat to logging and develop better knowledge of moulting and wintering sites in relation to industrial development.
Plunging populations in 10 of our 15 sea duck species have raised an alarm among Canada’s waterfowl biologists. They need to know more about the ecology, population dynamics, and threats to the health of this extraordinary group of ducks. Species, such as king eiders, goldeneyes, oldsquaws, buffleheads, hooded mergansers, and harlequin ducks are so highly specialized for life in salt water that their natural history differs markedly from that of most waterfowl. Reversing their population decline will demand unique conservation approaches.
Wildlife agencies across North America have identified four main threats to sea ducks: lack of knowledge about their ecology, chemical contaminants, unsustainable hunting, and habitat loss and degradation. These agencies have also recognized the need for concerted research, monitoring, and management to maintain sound populations. One such agency — the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Canada) — along with more than a dozen partners, launched a Sea Duck Joint Venture, which takes a coordinated approach to saving these waterfowl.
© Canadian Wildlife Federation
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