By: Socorro González Barajas and Alan Ruiz Berman

World Oceans Day is a day of recognition instated by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2009, and is being celebrated on June 8-9, 2018. CEDO will be at the Arizona -Sonoran Desert Museum on June 9th to speak about our work at their World Ocean’s Night event. Also, on June 9th, from 8am-3pm there is a national March for the Ocean – aimed at policy makers in Washington D.C. and beyond. We hope you will attend these events and enjoy our “Toast to the Ocean” below!

A flatworm graces a tidepool near CEDO’s field station in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, MX. (Photo by Alan Berman).

Our mother ocean gave life to this planet and continues to embrace the Earth with her magic and mystery. More than 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in primordial liquid, rich with life and constantly circulating as a result of the suns’ heat, generating energy and connecting people through communication pathways, economic and industrial opportunities, knowledge and exploration, communities and biodiversity, and even through the human impacts that diverse people are now working together to solve. We have only begun to explore the ocean’s vast depths and expanses. Should we forget the ocean’s quiet strength, we are soon reminded of it by calamities like floods and storms, an inevitable part of living alongside the Earth’s climate engine. But whether we live on the coast, or far inland, the ocean affects us all, and we all depend on it for our survival.

A view from the bottom-up (Photo by Alan Berman).

The ocean is elemental to the existence life on Earth, terrestrial and aquatic. It gives us our livable climate, and the air we breathe, producing oxygen (through phytoplankton) and storing excess carbon-dioxide and solar heat. It provides the energy that powers our societies, including gas, oil, hydro and wind power. Millions of people also rely directly on the oceans for their protein and way of life, so how is it that humankind continues to abuse this environment, pillaging its natural resources and using it as a dumping ground? Are we really so short-sighted, or have we not yet embraced a common narrative – one of harmony with a mother that sustains us, heals us, and enriches us?

Trash on Sandy Beach, Puerto Peñasco, MX (Photo by Alan Berman)

We at the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans (CEDO), feel that the latter is true. After 38 years of studying one of the planet’s most pristine seas, the Sea of Cortez, we have learned that the ocean possesses an incredible ability to bounce-back. This is not to say that all damage to the ocean is reversible, it is not, but sometimes she can restore her complex webs of life, much faster than a forest can, given the right conditions. This is certainly reason for hope. Through our diversity of intercultural programs CEDO is creating a culture of ocean optimism. We feel it is critical to give hope, especially to the people who depend directly on the ocean and its resources – the traditional fishing communities of the northern Gulf of California.

A local girl from Puerto Lobos picks up trash at the estuary (Photo by Angeles Sánchez).

CEDO may be one small organization on the edge of a great sea, but our one drop is making a big splash, and the ripples are reaching far and wide. For 38 years CEDO has worked vigorously to turn the tide of degradation by sharing our appreciation for the ocean and teaching people how to protect and care for this fragile and enigmatic entity. We have brought fishermen and their families, students, scientists, businessmen, industrialists and decision makers together around a common vision: “vibrant communities AND healthy ecosystems.” Achieving this vision involves transparency, teamwork, technical expertise, and tenacity, along with the willing participation of the full spectrum of social and economic stakeholders. Conservation is neither a fast or an easy process, but progress is possible and CEDO is proving it.

A ray darts over the sea bed of Isla San Jorge off of Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, MX. (Photo by Alan Berman).

In the words of fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft, “more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of ocean. Blue, green, grey, white, or black; smooth, ruffled, or mountainous; that ocean is not silent.” On World Oceans Day, let us reflect the nature of the ocean and be anything but silent about protecting it and its many inhabitants for generations to come.