The seas are huge – and so are the problems facing marine life. What can one person do to make a difference? Well, if everyone does even a little bit to help, we will have a better world and will be able to enjoy all that the sea gives us.

Here are ten things that you and your family can do to make a difference for marine life. See if you can tick off as many of these actions when you’ve done them. Some are easier than others – just do what you can. But remember to continue all your good work after ticking them off! We would love to hear what you have done and what you have seen, so do write to us.

Pick up litter

Rubbish on the beaches and in the sea isn’t just ugly to look at – it kills marine creatures. Seabirds and seals get entangled in old fishing line and net, which drowns or strangles them. Leatherback turtles eat plastic bags, mistaking them for jellyfish, and end up starving to death because their guts are blocked. Many animals eat bits of plastic, polystyrene or other rubbish which contain poisons. Take some litter home with you whenever you visit a beach, or take part in a group clean-up event. (But always take an adult with you and never touch anything if you don’t know what it is.)

Put a bin in your bathroom

Have you ever thought about what happens to the things you flush down the toilet? The water eventually reaches the sea, through the sewerage system, but the things in it are not always filtered out on the way. Some people flush cotton buds, plastic wrappers and other “non-biodegradable” things down the toilet. When they reach the sea, these can harm wildlife. Make sure your family knows what the bin in the bathroom is for – and perhaps even put a notice there to remind them to use it.

Buy “environmentally friendly”

The cleaning liquids you put in the toilet, the washing-up liquid which goes down the sink and the washing powder that gets emptied from the washing machine all go down the drain and can reach the sea through the sewage system. They don’t do wildlife in the sea much good! Some are less poisonous than others – more “environmentally friendly”. Try to buy products marked “environmentally friendly” and use only as much as you really need.

Buy the right fish

There are many different ways of catching fish. Some are much more damaging to wildlife than others. There are also some types of fish that are disappearing because too many are being caught. So how do you choose which fish to buy? There is no easy answer but we think it’s better to buy fish which are labelled as “locally caught”, because the small, local fisheries are less likely to harm wildlife than the big boats from elsewhere. If you buy frozen fish from a supermarket, it’s harder to know where it came from and how it was caught. It’s a good idea to cut down on cod, – if we don’t, there will soon be none left.

Recycle your oil

We all know that oil tankers sometimes spill oil into the sea, which is a disaster for wildlife, but in fact just as much oil reaches the sea from the land – through the drains. How does it get there? The main answer is that people pour it down the drain when they change the engine oil in their cars. If your mum, dad or other relatives work on their own cars, make sure they know that the old oil should be taken to a recycling centre.

Use your legs

Global warming is changing habitats. If the place where a fish lives becomes too warm, perhaps it can swim somewhere else. But what about something like a coral? Many species will die out because they can’t live in the new climate and they can’t easily move. What causes global warming is the build-up of carbon dioxide and other gases which make a layer in the earth’s atmosphere that holds in warmth. Much of this gas comes from burning “fossil fuels” like coal, oil and petrol. How about walking sometimes instead of getting a lift by car? It’s healthier for you and it’s good for the planet.

If you see it, say it

If we want to protect wild animals like dolphins, basking sharks and turtles we need to know certain things about them. For example, we need to know where they are, whether their numbers are going down, what is making their numbers go down, and anything else which will help us understand what conditions they need to survive. You can help us to gather the information we need by keeping an eye out for marine animals – dead or alive – and letting us know straight away when you see one.

Find out more

The more you know about sea life the more you will understand it and the more you will be able to do to look after it. Make a special effort to learn as much as you can. Visit an aquarium, read books, surf the Internet, go to events …. You could also follow marine news stories in your local newspaper.

Don’t keep it to yourself

There are lots of people out there who don’t have a clue.

Don’t forget to tell your family, friends and other people about what you have learnt, so they can enjoy and look after marine life too.

Join us

Some organisations – like the Helford Marine Conservation Group – are working very hard to conserve marine life. They need to know that people are keen to help them with this work. They also need money to do the work. By joining us you will be giving us your support and helping us to do much more.