Keeping our beaches beautiful is easier said than done. For every thousand or so people that visit the beach, only a fraction volunteer some of their time or give some of their money to help beaches and coastlines stay healthy. Here are seven that are worthy of your support.
The Ocean Conservancy
The Ocean Conservancy brings citizens and science together to save the sea. Confronting growing threats from ocean acidification and climate change, advocating for sustainable fisheries, removing plastics from the ocean, and re-routing ship traffic around whale breeding grounds.
Reef Check Foundation
Founded in 1996 in Los Angeles, Reef Check engages divers and snorkelers around the world in monitoring coral reefs and rocky reefs to provide scientific data to ocean managers. Their reports have drawn attention to human-caused damage, reefs that are in danger of being “loved to death”, and changes in reef health and composition. Volunteers monitor reefs in over 80 countries.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Aquariums are found all around the world, but Monterey’s is one of the best at sharing the beauty and science of the sea. But their greatest innovation is Seafood Watch: the groundbreaking program that allows everyday people buying seafood in grocery stores and restaurants to buy seafood that’s sustainably harvested with a simple smartphone app. Seafood Watch has redirected billions of dollars from damaging fisheries to sustainable ones.
The Surfrider Foundation
The Surfrider Foundation began in Malibu with a group of surfers seeking to protect their local beach break. It’s since grown and morphed into an organization with 80 local chapters worldwide. They work to preserver public beach and ocean access and reduce the amount of plastic in the sea. With the emphasis on local and state chapters, Surfrider may have grown, but still keeps the local activist feel.
A local organization that grew up around Oregon’s public beaches, Oregon Shores was founded so citizens could help the land-use laws that keep Oregon’s entire coast public. Citizens keep an eye out for land-use encroachments, violations of marine reserves and invasive species.
Australian Marine Conservation Society
At 2,300 km long, there’s little doubt that the Great Barrier Reef is the ocean’s greatest single ecological treasure. It’s also the most threatened by a combination of climate change, coral bleaching, growing tourist pressure, and 7,000 industrial ships that cross the reef every year. The Australian Marine Conservation Society has been fighting to protect the Great Barrier Reef for over 50 years.
If the Great Barrier Reef is one Pacific treasure, another one sits diagonally across the Pacific: the glacial-carved inlets of the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia’s wild coastline. Based out of the tiny native town of Bella Bella, Ian McAllister has been fighting industrial-scale logging, grizzly bear hunting, and most recently, the proposed Enbridge pipeline that would put the Great Bear Rainforest at risk of an Exxon Valdez-size spill.
So enjoy the beach and the ocean. But remember—all these organizations rely on volunteer time and donations to do their work. Help them out whenever you can.