Blog: Carlita the Croc

Of Crocodiles and Conservation

Hello friends, happy Earth Day! There are a lot of ways we can take care of the Earth, and you know I’m passionate about three of them: fighting climate change, protecting water and the ocean, and making seafood sustainable. I’ve posted many a’blog on these topics. But you may be wondering what they have to do with each other, and with a crocodile? Well, let me explain…

Crocodiles to Climate 
First of all, I’m an ectothermic creature, meaning I need outside warmth to regulate my body temperature and metabolism. The temperature around me can neither be too warm, nor too cool in order for me to survive. Similarly, temperature affects the eggs my people lay. You see, our eggs have temperature-dependent sex determination. A well temperature-regulated nest will produce male and female eggs. Too warm or too cold, and the eggs will be either all male or all female. So a warming climate threatens the survivability of my kind in the short-term and long-term.

Climate to Ocean 
You’ve heard me say before that the ocean is the heart of climate change [hyperlink: https://www.czs.org/climatescience]. That’s because the ocean acts like the circulatory system, distributing heat and moisture all over the world with its currents, much like the heart and veins do with oxygen and nutrients in our bodies.

photo: by Dr. Michael Pidwirny

Ocean to Seafood 
But the ocean also provides us with oxygen [hyperlink: https://www.czs.org/oceans]. Fifty to eighty-five percent of the oxygen we breathe comes from the tiny plants, called phytoplankton, living in the ocean. If providing us with warmth, water, and oxygen wasn’t enough, the ocean also provides us with food – called “seafood”. Duh. Being a semi-aquatic animal, I eat a lot of seafood.

Phytoplankton

Now, here’s where it gets a bit convoluted, so follow along closely.

Climate to Seafood 
The excessive carbon dioxide produced from using coal, oil, and natural gas for power rises in the atmosphere, but is also absorbed by the ocean. As a result, the ocean becomes more acidic which makes it difficult for animals like zooplankton, coral, shellfish, and more, to make their exoskeletons and form properly. These animals form the base of the food chain (recall “seafood”) so if their development is compromised, so is the entire food chain.

Ocean to Seafood 
Seafood also faces challenges from the top of the food chain. When humans pollute the ocean, it can make the living conditions of ocean uninhabitable for the plants and animals living there. Oil spills, microplastic, and chemicals all affect a balanced ocean. Overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices affect the food supply available to humans and harms the balance of the ocean.

Everything needs water 
As you know, water is distributed in a cycle. It will eventually end up back in the ocean, but along its journey, we need to use a considerable amount of it to survive. It would be nice (and necessary) if that water were clean when it gets to us, and clean when it leaves. Hence, my penchant for clean water conservation.

Now, Earth Day isn’t a supposed to make us feel bad about the state of things. Let’s think of it more like we do Mother’s Day – a day when we make a commitment to do something for the person who has done so much for us. On Earth Day, let’s renew our commitment to give back to the planet which has given us so much. Humans are already doing so well and making great strides in tackling issues like sustainable seafood. And you’ve solved difficult problems in the past, such as the hole in the ozone. So today to celebrate the Earth, I challenge you to find one thing you can do daily to protect water, climate, and/or seafood. Share what you’ve chosen with me on Twitter @CandidCroc.

Posted: 4/22/2018 12:39:35 PM by Steve Pine


Carlita the Croc

I'm Carlita the Croc, here to deliver my candid views on various topics, articles, news, and stories in conservation. For the latest news follow me on Twitter, for striking photos follow me on Instagram.

Subscribe

Subscribe to The Candid Croc Blog!RSS