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World Oceans Day 2013: We’re all in it together!

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“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”***

— Helen Keller

For organisms living in the ocean, sometimes the difference between thriving and perishing rests on their ability to form partnerships — often with members of their own species, but occasionally with other species of plants and animals.

Consider the following:

l Schooling behaviour in fish not only provides protection from predators, but also allows each individual fish to react more slowly because they are part of a larger group, saving valuable energy that can later be invested in other behaviours, such as finding food. Even for fish, it pays to stay in school!

l Dolphins exhibit a variety of co-operative hunting behaviours, including herding fish against shoals and sandbars to allow for easier capture. In the Florida Keys, bottlenose dolphins engage in “mud-ring feeding”, where several dolphins swim in a circle in shallow water to create a cloud of mud that corrals and confuses fish, eventually causing the fish to panic and leap out of the water into the mouths of waiting dolphins.

l Larger predatory fish — such as barracuda, amberjack, and mackerel — have been observed coordinating their hunting and foraging behaviours when feeding on groups of smaller prey fish. This cooperation among species means that each participating fish gets more food by hunting with others than it would if hunting alone.

l Emperor penguins work together to stay warm in the cold Antarctic climate, huddling in groups of ten to several hundred birds to escape the wind and conserve heat. Individual penguins take turns moving to the middle of the group to warm up and juvenile penguins are kept toasty in the centre as well. During the breeding season when Emperor penguins go without food for prolonged period, often for more than 100 days, this behaviour helps them conserve as much energy as possible.

When it comes to ocean stewardship, we would be wise to follow these examples and form partnerships that benefit everyone involved, while working toward a common goal. In fact, that’s the theme of World Oceans Day 2013: “Together, we have the power to protect the ocean.”

In celebration of World Ocean’s Day, on June 8, think of various ways you can work with others in your community to encourage sustainable behaviour that protects the ocean and its inhabitants.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

l Volunteer with a local environmental organisation, such as Keep Bermuda Beautiful, and participate in beach clean-ups or public education events that benefit the community.

l Post messages about ocean stewardship on your social media accounts to raise awareness among your friends and family about important issues, such as climate change, overfishing, and marine protected areas.

l Spread the word about ocean conservation by “Wearing Blue and Telling Two” — wear a blue shirt on World Ocean Day and share two facts about why it’s important to protect the world’s ocean.

l Sign up to receive monthly e-newsletters from ocean science research and education organisations — including BIOS — to stay up-to-date on the latest news and information about local, regional, and global ocean and environmental issues.

You can also join us for a World Oceans Day celebration on Friday, May 31, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm at Bacardi Limited, 65 Pitts Bay Road, Hamilton.

This event, hosted by the Bermuda Alliance for Sargasso Sea (BASS) and sponsored by Bacardi Limited, will highlight the work of Bermuda’s environmental, education, research, and conservation organisations.

Representatives from these groups will be on hand to talk about their efforts and share novel ideas for how we can work together to protect the ocean.

To RSVP for this event, please contact Pamela Amaral at Pamela.Amaral@bios.edu.

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Published May 02, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 02, 2013 at 11:32 am)

World Oceans Day 2013: We’re all in it together!

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