Jackson Miles - Op Ed - The State of Our Reefs

There is a ubiquitous sense among collegiate spring breakers to travel to some of the most tropical areas of Central and North America. The aesthetic of these sweltering, humid environments commonly attract students from all over the country to party and enjoy the night life. However, there is a tendency among most spring breakers to often overlook the underwater ecosystems of said areas.

As a college senior, my spring break was a little different than many of my peers. I, along with two of my and best friends, traveled to Key largo to immerse ourselves in some offshore fishing and coral reef exploration. Unfortunately, the fish were not biting, so we stuck to snorkeling and diving. The reefs held an abundance of life; from mangrove and yellowtail snapper to barracuda, I continually took the time to admire the diversity and vibrant wilderness that the reefs of the keys have to offer. I was fortunate enough to bear witness to the ocean’s greatest nursery-the coral reef.

Figure 1: Photo taken at Molasses Reef National Marine Sanctuary by Jackson Miles

Yet alarmingly, there is steady deconstruction of these magnificent coral reefs that is happening at an awe-striking rate. Coral degeneration is not just occurring at a microscopic level; the deterioration is vividly noticeable. I witnessed that between the vast canyons of living coral lay the defunct remains of these vital organisms. As I arose from the water to board our skiff, I sat down and began to ponder the detriment of humanity’s environmental influence. Something as simple as sunscreen can have a perverse effect on coral habitats. Plastic bags from grocery stores find their way to our oceans and breakdown into smaller micro-plastics. Surely, there is a way that we can directly minimize humanity’s effects on the oceans.

Every day, we take grand liberties in taking for granted the planet’s extraordinary, underwater ecosystems. There are more obvious reasons for the degeneration of coral reefs; these include rising global temperatures, global warming, etc. However, the steady flow of plastics into our oceans is phenomenon we can directly prevent. Choosing to reuse is a vital first step in preserving the essential life of our oceanic ecosystems. Surely, the preventative acts of one person will not save the oceans or coral reefs; yet, if humanity can band together and choose to reuse, we will have a chance. Ocean and Company is dedicated to stopping the flow of plastics into our oceans by offering an array of products that are reusable and sustainable. Never take another plastic bag from the grocery store; the expandable tote provides a reusable alternative. Never accept another plastic straw; the stainless steel straw provides another useful, reusable alternative. Let’s stop the flow of plastics into our oceans by collectively influencing the demand for common plastics! 

~Jackson Miles

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