I am Renee Street, a PADI Course Director living in Gili Air, a small island in Indonesia. I am not a marine biologist. I’m not a professional environmentalist. I don’t work in marine conservation. I’m just one person who can no longer stay quiet. I am sad, I am frustrated, and I can’t help but believe that many people don’t really understand all that is happening to our blue planet.
In thousands of dives over 28 years, I have seen first-hand the deterioration of oceanic ecosystems. Lately, I have begun to feel helpless and overwhelmed. It has become too painful for me to sit back and watch. I can no longer remain passive while the ocean drowns around me. Now it’s my time to act.
So I am going to walk for 24 hours around this island to raise awareness for the issues facing our ocean. There are so many ways that we are causing harm. Over the 24 hours of my walk I plan to highlight 24 of them. Some of the issues are well known: plastic pollution and shark conservation. Others are less understood: ocean acidification, ocean dead zones, and more. It’s no longer about any one species… it’s about saving the ecosystem that all of these species, including humans, depend upon for life. It’s about saving the ocean itself.
“The Ocean Walk” is on 6 June; a lead-in to World Ocean’s Day. My hope is that some (or all) of these 24 topics will resonate with you and you will join The Ocean Walk by supporting organizations doing great work for oceans. You can donate time, money, make life changes, lobby for local, national, and international governmental changes, and pass the passion and awareness along to others. I am not collecting donations from anyone. I just want people to understand what humanity is doing to our ocean and to be inspired to act.
In order to return to a healthy equilibrium, many changes need to take place on many levels: personal behavior, corporate principles, government policies. Attitudes and priorities must change.
Walking for 24 hours is a huge task. But the beauty of walking is that each step is small and simple, but in 30 minutes, or an hour, when you look back, you see that you’ve really covered some ground. In a few hours, you realize how far you have come. With one step at a time, we can make a difference.
I am doing this to inspire others to make brave changes that are urgently needed. Then I hope they encourage others to do the same. Step by step, we can make change happen. In a year or a few years, when we all look back, I hope we can celebrate how far we have come!
I trust that once people understand what we are doing to our oceans they will take action. And I genuinely believe that change will happen. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be walking in circles for 24 hours. This is my mission. Join me.