World Oceans Day 2020

I unravel
my apology
in her waves

and I ask
what I can do.

The moon pulls at the hem
of her blue dress
and her hands slip away
from mine.

She leaves
what she can no longer carry
on the sand :

The starving sea turtle
who ate too many
plastic jellyfish.

The poisoned octopus
offers me
just one
of his three
landfilled hearts

with his
dying wish:

“If you
won’t take it
who will?”


World Oceans Day became internationally recognized by the UN in 2008 and has been growing in popularity and participation every year since. The day was created to recognize the implementation of worldwide Sustainable Development Goals and to encourage public interest in caring for our oceans.

Living near an ocean is new to me, having lived most of my life in landlocked states like Idaho and Colorado. Before, my awareness of the detrimental effects of plastic pollution on our environment had always been in the back of my mind, but not something I took daily responsibility for. Now, having the privilege to visit the ocean regularly, this awareness has quickly moved to the front of my mind, as I’m reminded of the immediate and lasting impacts our waste has.

As we all know, this impact is especially true for our single-use plastics (water bottles, plastic straws, styrofoam take-out boxes, etc.) that are only useful to us for an average of 12 minutes, while it takes an estimated 400 years for these plastics to decompose. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a garbage truck worth of these plastics are dumped into the ocean every minute, that is 5-13 million metric tons a year! They estimate that by 2050 the weight of plastics in the ocean will exceed the weight of fish in the ocean!

The particles from these plastics are unfortunately consumed by marine life, as they mistake the foreign objects for food. Sea turtles often mistake plastic bags as jellyfish and end up starving, never knowing they didn’t actually eat a jellyfish. Not to mention the toxins from these plastics are linked to a plethora of health problems for marine life and for us humans, who consume the fish.

This is a very daunting and troubling issue that is not going to be solved by just a few. To make a change we all need to do what we can, starting with just one simple thing in our lives. That could be bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, using a reusable water bottle, or refusing plastic straws at restaurants. The World Oceans Day website, as well as many others like Plastic Oceans have plenty of great resources and ideas on how we can do our part!

Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

11 thoughts on “Responsibility

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