Oceans in Crisis
The condition of our seas is fundamental to the wider health of the planet. However, the plight of the oceans is currently very much the poorer cousin to global warming when it comes to environmental exposure and associated government action. The oceans are in a critical condition and threatened by continued overfishing, warming, acidification, and pollution; some studies give us only a couple of decades before the point of no-return is reached.
On Arkyla we recognise that we all must have a part to play in minimising our impact to the marine environment. This can be achieved in any number of ways, some small and others requiring a little more effort. We can make choices in products such as sunscreens and cleaning products that are less harmful to the environment, be careful in where we choose to anchor, or participate in citizen science projects to help gather the evidence we need to force greater action by governments and world bodies.
Below we highlight some of the ways that we onboard Arkyla are trying to help...
Sunscreen & skin protection
It's vital to protect your skin from the ravages of the sun, but many sunscreens are extremely harmful to the marine environment in general and coral reefs in particular. The Coral Reef Alliance highlights how contamination can result from astonishingly tiny levels of some products, especially those that contain oxybenzone ingredients, with concentrations as low as 62 parts per trillion (equivalent to one drop of water in 6.5 olympic-sized swimming pools) damaging ecosystems.
It's vital to choose sunscreens that are friendly to the oceans; look for the 'Marine Safe' icon on products and be selective even if it does cost a little bit more than other brands. On Arkyla we only use Caudalie sunscreens; this company not only produces marine friendly products, but maintains a commitment to the environment through membership of, amongst other initiatives, the 'Ocean Protect' alliance and the '1% for the Planet' network.
Citizen science projects
Now that we have retired from work and are able to spend longer periods onboard, we are keen to engage in volunteer science projects to help collect data to support studies that will deepen understanding of the state of our seas and oceans and the creatures that live in them.
Jenny has already signed up as an 'OceanWatcher' to the ORCA organisation, a charity dedicated to studying and protecting whales, dolphins and porpoises in UK and European waters. In time, I hope to be able to apply my love of wildlife photography to directly support marine conservation projects.
Many people are now aware of the horrific scale of plastics pollution in the oceans, but may feel powerless to help resolve the situation. Onboard Arkyla we believe every little helps, and are looking at ways to reduce our own plastic footprint and to engage in the various initiatives to clear plastic debris found at the places we visit. We are currently guilty of buying bottled water but in the short term are at least trying to purchase larger sizes of bottles to cut down on the waste from many smaller (if more convenient) bottles. Our mid-term goal is to install a filtration and inonisation system so that we will be able to drink directly from the boat tanks irrespective of where we fill up. We are also keen to promote and support the wide array of projects, such as UK-based 'Clean Sailors' that promotes many ways to lessen the impacts from cruising.
We are always looking at ways to minimise our impact by adopting sustainable practices when we sail. If anchoring, we will ensure that we won't damage sensitive areas such as seagrass or corals. We have CopperCoated the hull which, although we recognise isn't a perfect solution, we consider less polluting than traditional anti-fouling paints. We are not in a position to swap out our auxiliary diesel engine yet, but do ensure that it is kept clean and is well maintained thereby reducing chances of spills and inefficient use of fuel. Similarly, we try to keep the hull and propeller clean to improve both speed through water and efficiency when under sail or motor. Good advice is available from a number of organisations such as the 'RYA' and 'The Green Blue'