Tag Archives: ocean

A Splash of Good News

As one of the world’s largest, natural carbon sinks (a sponge that sucks up rampant carbon dioxide emissions) the ocean is working incredibly hard to balance the impacts of climate change.

Unfortunately, that means a lot is changing inside our waters: from warming temperatures to acidification, climate change’s effects on our ocean are impacting us, our communities, and our marine ecosystems. You might have already seen this in tides creeping closer to our shores or some of our beloved marine organisms, like lobsters or cod, shifting away from where we normally find them.

But there’s Good News

Humpback Whale © Jennifer Childs

A 2020 study examines the current trends in marine conservation initiatives such as habitat restoration and fisheries management. The authors estimate that marine ecosystems can substantially rebuild by 2050 if we amplify and commit to this conservation work together.

For example, the study cites that globally, we’ve gone from protecting .09% of the ocean (3.2 million km2) in 2000 to 7.4% of the ocean (26.9 million km2) now through Marine Protected Areas. Here in Massachusetts, we’re already restoring marine habitats and ensuring the protection or management of important marine species.

Climate Mitigation is Integral

We’re on the right path. However, the study authors urge that our initiatives must include climate change mitigation. This means reducing and eliminating our greenhouse gas emissions that introduce new threats (such as sea level rise and warmer temperatures) and aggravate existing threats (like overfishing and habitat loss).

Mass Audubon recognizes that climate change requires bold and urgent action. Our Climate Action Plan engages everyone in ways that we can fight climate change at its root and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for a carbon neutral future by 2050.

We Can Help the Ocean Rebuild When we Work Together

The study’s results give us hope about our collective climate fight, demonstrating the potential of just how much we can achieve when we act. Even better, anyone can work to mitigate climate change – here are some ways how:

  1. Join our collective climate fight by signing up for our newsletter, Climate Connection, for climate information, solutions, and community action.
  2. Take a climate pledge to commit to reducing your greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Eat local and sustainable seafood to fight climate change and combat other threats our ocean faces, such as overfishing.
  4. A good step in addressing your personal carbon footprint is reducing the amount of energy you use at home. Sign up for a No-Cost Virtual Home Energy Assessment through our nonprofit partner, All In Energy, to audit your energy usage.
  5. Make a gift to Mass Audubon to support our climate action initiatives.

The ocean needs our help. With hard work and community action, it’s possible for marine ecosystems to recover. It’s up to us to come together and tackle our collective climate fight.

An Oath to Our Ocean

Nothing says Massachusetts like the ocean. Beautiful coastlines, sparkling beaches, and local seafood are part of what makes our commonwealth special. The ocean provides humans and wildlife with so much that allows us to thrive.

Now, the ocean needs our help.

Mass Audubon’s Allens Pond wildlife sanctuary

A giant, blue sponge

The ocean is one of the world’s largest, natural carbon and heat sponges. It soaks up rampant carbon dioxide and a majority of the heat within the atmosphere created by our excess greenhouse gas emissions. Natural carbon sponges are normally excellent allies in our collective climate fight – however, we’ve exceeded our ocean’s capacity.

Two sides to the blue coin: warmer and more acidic waters

The more heat our ocean sucks up, the warmer its waters become. Globally, the ocean’s surface has warmed about 1.5°F since the beginning of the 20th century. This means that while the world’s temperatures slowly warm, so do our ocean’s waters. At the same time, the more carbon dioxide the ocean soaks up, the more acidic its waters become. All that excess carbon dioxide interacts with seawater’s pH, which increases ocean acidity.

We’re seeing the impacts of warmer and more acidic waters both on people and wildlife alike right now. Here’s how:

Sea level rise

Increasing ocean and air temperatures melt glaciers and land ice, adding more water to the ocean. Additionally, warmer temperatures cause water to expand, and push our tides farther up along our shores. Sea level rise also puts coastal communities at elevated risk for severe flooding and intense storm events.

A suffocating ocean

Increased temperatures decrease the amount of oxygen our ocean can hold. Warmer waters generally contain less oxygen, amplify how much oxygen marine organisms need, and promote harmful algal blooms that further worsen oxygen loss. Ocean oxygen loss, otherwise known as hypoxia, therefore creates uninhabitable zones for marine wildlife.

Marine organisms

We can also see climate change’s impacts on our marine organisms, who have been scrambling to new habitats with suitable water temperatures to survive and find food. The marine organisms we depend on for our local economies and love to see recreationally are either moving deeper into the ocean or moving northward.

Ocean acidification further impacts marine organisms by degrading the shells and exoskeletons that protect them. Important shellfish to Massachusetts’ local seafood economy and marine ecosystems, like mussels, are weakening because of ocean acidification’s impact.

How we can help

Our ocean deserves our love and support. We must come together and take an oath to our ocean to fight climate change by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions – protecting the people and wildlife that depend on our big, blue world.

Sign up for our newsletter

Our newsletter, Climate Connection, keeps you up to date on climate news, Mass Audubon’s climate action initiatives, and ways that we can tackle our collective climate fight.

Take Mass Audubon’s Climate Pledge

You can pledge to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions both individually and as a community.

Purchase and eat local, sustainable seafood

Purchasing locally caught and sustainable seafood can help fight climate change by reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions needed to get your food to your plate – all while combating other threats amplified by climate change, like overfishing. Take some time to learn more about where your seafood comes from, how it was caught, and whether it’s in season.

Shipping demands for non-local seafood, certain types of fish farming, and even the way your seafood was caught all affect how big its carbon footprint is. Buying locally and sustainably, helps reduce that carbon footprint.

Channeled Whelk © Marian Stanton

Take 5: Seashells By the Seashore

The days are getting shorter, summer camps are wrapping up for the season, and some schools are already back in session. Summer may be winding down, but there’s still time for you to sneak away to the beach and enjoy the remaining sunny days and hot weather.

And even if you can’t get away to spend some time by the ocean (or if sand between your toes—and everywhere else—just isn’t your thing), you can still enjoy a little beach vacation right here. These five images of “seashells by the seashore,” all submitted in the past to our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest, are just the ticket to remind you that summer is still hanging on. The 2019 photo contest is open for just one more month, so submit your nature photography today!

Mussel shell © Samantha Buckley
Mussel shell © Samantha Buckley
Channeled Whelk © Marian Stanton
Channeled Whelk © Marian Stanton
A mix of periwinkles, dog whelks, and winkles © David Perkins
A mix of periwinkles, dog whelks, and winkles © David Perkins
Juvenile surf clam; the hole is from a moon snail © Deborah Carr
Juvenile surf clam; the hole is from a moon snail © Deborah Carr
Bay Scallop © Emily Zollo
Bay Scallop © Emily Zollo