Tapping into the senses: magic Moments beneath a night sky

Tapping into the senses: magic Moments beneath a night sky

A Little Cayman tale of connections.

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You know that feeling when something incredible just happened? The sudden rush of blood throughout your entire body? There have been multiple times in my life where I've felt this exhilaration. The tingling remains in your veins for a while after that one sudden rush occurs and you feel invincible. Nothing can spoil that moment for you.

These flashes of emotion usually come to me in the middle of the woods or at the edge of a coastline. This time, it was on a beach outside a tiny research center on the baby island of Little Cayman. I had felt this feeling one year prior on the South Island of New Zealand, but I was now with new friends and under a different sky. Instead of a Maori meeting house, I was two feet from the water, my toes dug deep beneath the icy sand. I was surrounded by Sargassum and shells of all kinds. Coral fragments lined my salt encrusted beach towel. Looking up, once again, at the blackness most humans shy away from, a sense of freedom filled my bones, instead of the usual fright associated with that time of night.

Darkness is nothing to be afraid of, it's something that envelops your entire being. You're forced to feel your surroundings. Details were blurred except for the shining lights of the constellations above, each one brighter than the next. My eyes floated to Orion's Belt, the alignment of stars I felt the most connected to. Under the New Zealand sky, it was opposite of how it looked the night on the shores of Little Cayman, but still connected all the same. In fact, all stars are connected. Find the end of one and you've just discovered the beginning to another. Beautiful, isn't it?

The fish hook I found straight ahead of me was really the Big Dipper, but flipped around. The end of that pointed to Polaris, which started Ursa Minor and so on and so on. What lies beyond our atmosphere is fascinating and complex. Everything in this universe and the next and the next are all SO complex!

I closed my eyes and blocked out the only light around me. I focused on the laughs of those by my side and the rush of the waves hitting my feet. The air was salty and the wind wet and warm. My body tingled, a smile came across my face and I whispered: I'm never leaving this island.

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Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?

It's no secret that plastic isn't great for the environment, but how sensationalized is this topic actually becoming?

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When I first saw a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic drinking straw removed from its nostril, I was obviously upset like any other viewer would be. I care a lot about the environment and about animal life and it was upsetting to see that a product of human consumption and ignorant waste was destroying precious parts of our world. I wholeheartedly jumped on the bandwagon of "plastic straws kill sea turtles!!!" but only knew about the issue from this video and what I heard from people or saw on social media. The whole topic of plastic waste into the ocean remained in the back of my mind until the recent pledge of Starbucks to stop using plastic straws in stores by 2020 reminded me of the issue.

As the topic of plastics and their pollution of the environment (largely the oceans) has become so recently powerful I decided to do some research of my own. If I was going to tell people to stop using plastic straws because they were killing sea turtles, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just repeating everything I heard from social media.

Turns out, plastic straws are hurting sea turtles and other marine life, but a lot of what I thought about plastic waste was exaggerated (at least from what I had heard from others). Sea birds are the most impacted creature by plastic straws, not sea turtles. About 1 million or more seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic straws and choking on them. In research from recent scientific studies, 80-90% of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside of their stomachs. Also, the ecological footprint that plastic straws alone leave on the planet is actually pretty small compared to food waste or fossil fuels.

However, all the buzz about sea turtles may come from the fact that globally 86% of sea turtle species are known to be affected by plastic debris. Overwhelming amounts of plastic garbage in the ocean have caused a steady decline of the leatherback sea turtle over the past several years, so much that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Plastics can hinder eating and consumption, breathing abilities, and even reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.

So while plastic straws may not be killing sea turtles in hordes, they are killing sea birds, and plastic overall have caused huge and deadly effects to many sealife species. We have known that plastic is bad for the environment and the oceans for quite a while, given the fact that the Great Garbage Patch was discovered almost 20 years ago, so it's more than time to start caring about the problem. If we can eliminate single-use plastic straws that aren't biodegradable, we can stop using other single-use plastics and make a better effort to reduce our harmful impacts on the oceans. Individually, we can move towards small changes, which can move our society to a more sustainable and healthy place. If you are more interested in this topic, I would suggest reading about how you can make a change or looking at this article and checking out this scientific journal.

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Vinicius Amano

@viniciusamano

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12 Ways To Have an Eco-Friendly Holiday

You do not have to sacrifice your holiday fun to be environmentally friendly this season.

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It is holiday time and that means a lot of shopping, decorating, cooking, and time with loved ones. All of this can be done in an environmentally friendly way. Help out the planet while having a great holiday.

1. Do not buy wrapping paper

Reuse old bags or use some old newspaper to wrap your presents.

2. Do not use single use plastic

Invest in reusable plates, cups, and silverware.

3. Go Outside

Connect with nature.

4. Green Gifts

Buy Eco-friendly gifts or make homemade gifts.

5. LED Lights

They use 80% less energy.

6. Limit Your Traveling or Carpool

Save energy by traveling less or carpooling with friends and family.

7. Purchase Experiences Instead of Gifts

These are more meaningful and you know they will get used.

8. Reduce Food Waste

Plan smarter so that no food gets wasted.

9. Re-Gift

If you think somebody else will use items you won't, then re-gift them.

10. Save Energy

Turn the thermostat down when you are not home.

11. Send E-cards

Save on paper and send E-cards instead of traditional cards.

12. Shop Online

Save on gas and save yourself from driving all over town looking for gifts.

Hopefully some of these simple ideas will inspire you to be more eco-friendly this holiday!

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