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Biology

Giving Thanks for the Ocean: The gratitude of the writers

Fig 5: Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico from Bunche Beach, Fort Myers, FL. Source: Rebecca Flynn. Please do not use this photo without permission of the author.

Fig 1 (and cover photo): Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico from Bunche Beach, Fort Myers, FL. Source: Rebecca Flynn. Please do not use this photo without permission of the author.

Today is the day after Thanksgiving, but I think the spirit of gratitude should live on, and many of my fellow Oceanbites writers agree. This week we’ve heard about reasons to be grateful for the ocean from Megan, Dina’s journey connected to the ocean, Eric’s search for a profound answer to why he’s thankful for the ocean, and Anna’s sappy post about why she is grateful for the ocean.

 

Many of the other writers wanted to share their gratitude for the ocean. Some waxed poetic, some pragmatic, but all spoke from a personal place. Yet the gratitude we feel for the ocean unifies all of us—not just the writers here at oceanbites but also the larger us, aka humans. The following writers shared these responses with me, which I am passing on to you. The ocean seems to be our source of professional motivation and inspiration while providing us with opportunities for exploration and recreation. We recognize its importance in shaping our climate and supplying us with food. It provides us with a sense of wonderment and awe, soothes us into a state of tranquility, and humbles us.

 

Fig. 2. Sailboat Race in Sydney Harbour, Australia. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fig. 2. Sailboat Race in Sydney Harbour, Australia. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Gordon Ober

  1. employment :)
  1. It can often feel like everything on earth has been seen or has already been explored. The bottom of the ocean is still a mystery to us and provides us with a frontier we can still explore.
  1. It takes our carbon.
  1. It brings us our weather.
  1. A free source of human fun (beach days, swimming, surfing, fishing, etc.).

 

Fig. 3. Tube worm colony around hydrothermal vent. Source: NOAA

Fig. 3. Tube worm colony around hydrothermal vent. Source: NOAA

Megan Chen

I am thankful for the oceans because of the pure thrill of ocean exploration.  To explore is an innate urge within us.  To go beyond what we know, to challenge ourselves, to learn more about our world and how it works.  We are curious, and when we explore, we have a better understanding about our place and context in the world.  Less than 5% of the ocean has been explored, so it is an unbelievably exciting frontier for scientific discovery.  When I was in 6th grade, I saw images of hydrothermal vent communities with majestic tube worm colonies and ghostly white crabs.  These images captured my imagination and to this day, I feel a little tingle when I think of them!  Years later, after I had graduated with a Bachelors degree in Commerce & Finance, I was lost and having a quarter-life crisis.  I came back to the sense of awe, wonder and adventure I felt about deep sea exploration, and decided to apply to ocean-related Masters Programs.  My life has never been the same ever since, and I am so grateful for it!

 

Fig. 4. The Twelve Apostles - Port Campbell National Park by Jorge Lascar. Source: Flickr

Fig. 4. The Twelve Apostles – Port Campbell National Park by Jorge Lascar. Source: Flickr

Annie Hartwell

I’m thankful that the ocean makes me feel like I could go anywhere in the world.  I’m thankful that the ocean is always there, like an old friend.  She can be so calming and soothing, and she can also be terribly harsh and honest.

I’m thankful that the ocean is a place that brings loved ones together.

I’m thankful for ocean fruits like sushi, lobster, and oysters.  I’m thankful for adorable sea critters. I’m thankful for beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

I’m thankful the ocean gives me something to be passionate about.

 

Fig. 5. Woman by ocean. Author: Wendy Hero. Source: Pexels

Fig. 5. Woman by ocean. Author: Wendy Hero. Source: Pexels

Erin McLean

I’m thankful for the oceans because they give me a reason to get up and go to work everyday. As an aquarium educator, I know that it’s not easy to want to preserve something you’ve never seen, so I take a lot of pride in bringing marine animal education opportunities to inspire these future ocean stewards. Especially in a time of dividedness, the oceans can bring us together – we all depend on it for food, recreation, and most importantly, the air that we breathe.

 

 

Fig. 6. Child surfing. Source: Pixabay

Fig. 6. Child surfing. Source: Pixabay

Anna Robuck

Although I could probably expound on why I’m grateful for the ocean for a few pages, I think it suffices to say I am personally thankful for the ocean because it fulfills a range of roles in my life that no other entity could hope to satisfy. I derive professional motivation and inspiration from the ocean, based on my desire to conserve and understand it and its creatures. I find mental serenity and clarity when I take a stroll along its margins. I find physical engagement and enjoyment when I surf or swim along its shores. All these are personal reflections, leaving out the huge role the ocean plays in providing food and a stable climate for me and the rest of the globe.

 

Fig. 7. One More Step. Sea turtle hatchling headed toward the vast ocean. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fig. 7. One More Step. Sea turtle hatchling headed toward the vast ocean. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Zak Kerrigan

An Earthly reminder of how small we are. Some gaze to the heavens to contemplate our place in the universe, but the oceans are a tangible and visible metric of just how small we are. They provide us with food. They carry us to new lands. The waves sing us to sleep at night. The salt sticks to our skin and smells like summer. If we do not love our oceans, they will let us know. The tides will rise and life/food will be lost. The ocean is what makes this a blue planet and without them we lose a bit of ourselves. I am thankful for the oceans because when I am on/in the ocean, all of my problems are put into scale and I am more aware of what is important in this life.

 

Fig. 8. Pacific Sunset. Source: Flickr

Fig. 8. Pacific Sunset. Source: Flickr

Sandra Schleier

Thank you Ocean for your vastness and infinite wonders, thank you for providing a safe place in my childhood to bond with my family, thank you for inspiring me to become a marine biologist by showing me your beautiful coral reefs and sparking my curiosity on how things work. Thank you for teaching humanity humility and awareness of the fact that we share this world with other organisms. Thank you for shaping my life and providing humans with the food we eat, the oxygen we breathe, the time we play and work, and the economic benefits we reap. You are more than just an ecosystem, you are life and my reminder and inspiration to explore this earth, enjoy its grandeur, and fill my dreams with life.

 

Fig. 9. Rebecca Flynn scubadiving in the BVI. Photo Credit: Dave Gleeson. Do not use without permission.

Fig. 9. Rebecca Flynn scubadiving in the BVI. Photo Credit: Dave Gleeson. Do not use without permission.

My own personal statement of gratitude

I grew up about as far from the ocean as one can be, in St. Louis, MO. My journey began with a love of science, some visits to beaches, snorkeling in the Keys, and a two-week Coral Reef Ecology field course in college. After graduating college, I did some internships with marine conservation organizations and I knew I had found my home. The first time I went SCUBA-diving, I knew I’d made the right choice. I am grateful for the ocean for more reasons than I could ever say. Some of the moments I have been most at peace have been spent on the shore–watching the sun rise or set or watching a mama sea turtle nest–, and under the waves–measuring corals, following fish through seagrass, or taking in the breathtaking beauty of the wide open water. The ocean is intimately tied to my professional life, yet it also provides me an escape. Being surrounded by the water takes me away from my small troubles and provides tranquility. Some of my best thinking has occurred near the water, inspired by its beauty, sounds, and expansiveness. I’m thankful for all the beautiful habitats, fascinating creatures, and natural resources that the ocean provides. And finally, I’m grateful for the challenge that is the ocean and marine research. It has inspired inventions like SCUBA-diving and continues to demand human ingenuity to study its wonders. And on a personal level, it challenges me to be an efficient, thorough researcher because my times in the waters are limited and must be timed around the influences of tides, seasons, weather, etc. It challenges me to be creative, work harder, and never cease to be awed.

Rebecca Flynn
I am a recent M.S. graduate from the University of Rhode Island, where I studied the impacts of anchor damage to coral reefs. I now work in southwest Florida, contributing to the management of coastal waters. I am a conservation biologist to the core, fascinated by the problems of human impacts and determined to help find solutions! I enjoy spending my free time outside and/or reading.

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