The state of our oceans has once again made headlines with the worldwide celebration of World Oceans Day this week, forming part of National Environment month.
This year’s theme was Our Oceans, Our Future and Stellenbosch Department of Botany and Zoology associate professor Sophie von der Heyden believes that we can all play our part in attempting to mitigate the effects of pollution.
According to von der Heyden, “ Plastic pollution plays a huge role. By just making small behavioural changes, we can do so much.”
Our ocean water is currently polluted by over 51 trillion pieces of plastic.
“People who live inland seem to have forgotten their link with the ocean, and we need to highlight and educate people in this regard. The ocean is very important to us, especially for maintaining a stable climate,” says von der Heyden.
Acidification, due to climate change, is also a major challenge facing our oceans. The resulting increased carbon dioxide levels in the water have an extremely negative impact on marine life, particularly on marine animals with shells, as shell growth is often inhibited.
Professor von der Heyden also sites overfishing as another area of concern with regard to the health of our oceans. She urges people to make sustainable seafood choices and make themselves aware of sustainable seafood options.