by Youth Ocean Advocate Clara L.
Seattle’s skyline shows in the distance as I push my paddle through the smooth water. In front of me, diving birds float on the water. Last week, I went kayaking at Alki. Spending time on the water through kayaking, boating, beach trips, and other activities is a great way to spend hot summer days, and brings about a new sense of appreciation for our marine environment. However, when spending at beaches or out on the Puget Sound it’s important to make sure you are not harming the habitat and animals that live there. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Keep your distance from marine mammals. If you’re lucky, you may see a marine mammal such as a harbor seal, stellar sea lion, or harbor porpoise. While it is fine to view this animals from a distance, do not approach them, as this is very disruptive to their natural behaviors. In fact, they are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act which makes it illegal to take, feed, or harass these animals. You should also avoid disturbing other animals you see, such as shorebirds.
- Leave shells, sand dollars, and rocks on the beach… While it may seem harmless to take souvenirs such as rocks or shells, these items provide crucial habitat for animals, and taking them disrupts the ecosystem.
- …but make sure you don’t leave any trash behind.
- Get involved in community actions. For example, organize a beach cleanup or participate in local habitat restoration. If you can vote, support legislation that protects the ocean, such as restrictions on disposable plastics and increased protections of marine animals.