On 60 Minutes last weekend, Anderson Cooper visited a vibrant coral reef off the coast of Cuba, where he swam with sharks and a 200 lb. grouper, a large fish whose numbers are dwindling but which you can still find on your plate in Indiana, for a price.
It's amazing that, in the landlocked midwest, we can go to virtually any restaurant and dine on a bounty of ocean-dwelling creatures when, according to David Guggenheim, American marine biologist and senior fellow at The Ocean Foundation in Washington, D.C., what often shows up on our dinner plates is disappearing at an astonishing rate. According to Guggenheim, the majority of tuna and swordfish - "Predators that we just love to eat," in his words - have been depleted. And 90% of sharks have been killed in the past 50 years.
What can you do to help coral reefs from the your distant Midwestern life? A few things:
- Eat less seafood, and when you do eat it, use the Seafood Watch website and app to determine whether what you're about to eat is sustainably harvested or faces critically low numbers.
- Use less plastic. The stuff basically doesn't go away (see video below.)
- Cross your fingers and hang on for the ride. Guggenheim calls the death of coral reefs "disaster in slow motion," and our own Jim Poyser says, "We are screwed."
But there's always hope. Guggenheim says that "[doing] what you can locally" has far-reaching impacts, and Jim encourages you to hold fast to "a New Year's resolution, one that puts nature first - over everything else."
Do you feel a personal connection to what's happening in our oceans? Tell us about it.