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Let's save the endangered species of the ocean

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May 16, 2014 has come and gone but one of the main highlights of the day should always be in our hearts and our minds, as avid divers and ocean lovers alike. Endangered Species Day was on May 16th.

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As John C. Sawhill once said, "A society is defined not only by what it creates but also by what it refuses to destroy." Due to man or due to the path that nature takes, there are species of our marine environment that are on the verge of being labeled as extinct, endangered. There is nothing more important than protecting our ocean environment every time we set out on our dive. While we focus on Endangered Species Day one particular day out of the entire year, it should be an initiative and project that we keep close to our hearts and try to keep from happening.

Of the top ten animal species on the verge of extinction, almost half of the number relates to the ocean and its habitat. The Beluga Sturgeon is overwhelming in size and rules the Caspian Sea. At one time in history, these creatures lived up to 75 years, grew to over 28 feet and weighed 2 tons. But humans love their caviar and that is the one item that the Beluga continues to be valued for. Because of this, most of the sturgeons only make it 18 years and rarely get over 77 pounds in weight.

One of the largest and most majestic creatures is the Blue Whale which is found in Antarctica. With a loud piercing cry, it creates a hypnotizing presence in the ocean. UV radiation through a hole in the ozone layer is depleting its food source, the zooplankton.

Much has been done to try and keep the Loggerhead Turtle safe but due to becoming bycatch in some countries that have not put conservation measures into place, they are quickly headed towards extinction. Ocean debris such as fishing lines and plastic bags are also shortening their life spans.

Elkhorn and Staghorn Coral are the very first species to be recognized as threatened by global warming. Not only does that affect the beauty of the ocean floor, but those fish species that are harbored in their safety will also be indirectly affected over time.

It really isn't too late to change our behavior. We can assist Project Aware in their worldwide campaign by volunteering to do our part or simply by donating to support the cause. Divers, just remember, we love to become one with our marine surroundings. Let's keep that gorgeous image alive and well. Help the endangered species.

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