How to Love the Ocean

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Emma is the editor & creator (and occasionally writer) for The Messy Heads. She enjoys yellow curry, print media, and singing to herself.

Submitted by Maggie Higgens

The place that will hold my heart forever is Manasquan. I’ve played at that beach all my life, surfing the waves, dancing with the dolphins and having my whole body being covered in warm white sand. I feel so lucky to be connected to the ocean, being able to swim in the big blue makes my soul the happiest and I will forever be grateful for that. When I dive under the waves and see the waves crashing behind me, I love that feeling, I love it because I know I’m home. My heart belongs to the ocean and my veins are filled with salt water, and I wouldn’t want anything else.

This post is for the beach rats who want to save the ocean!


Not many people realize that lotion, lipstick and other beauty products contain an ingredient called squalene, also known as shark cartilage. Fisherman kill up to 100 million sharks a year, which means their population depleted 90%. Check the ingredients on the back of your bottles and stop buying products that are depleting our oceans. 

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Garbage is literally choking the ocean. But luckily, there’s lots of ways we can help. Reduce the amount of plastic you use by using reusable plastic, like bamboo utensils instead of plastic utensils, metal straws instead of plastic ones and reusable grocery bags. But if you do happen to use plastic, always remember to recycle!


Did you know there is 8 million tons of plastic dumped in the ocean every year? Plastic in the ocean is a serious issue that’s killing hundreds of sea creatures everyday. If you live by the coast sign up to do a beach clean up and bring some friends along. After you help beautify the shores, you can sit and enjoy the waves lapping at the sand and be proud of your contribution to keeping our world clean. 


Ever hear the saying, “what goes up, must come down”? Well that’s exactly what happens when you let go of your balloons. If the balloon reaches the ocean, chances are a sea turtle will think it’s a jellyfish and eat it. If an animal does eat the balloon, it will die in a slow painful death. Celebrate with flowers instead. 


The sunscreen that you slather on before a swim on the beach may be protecting your body, but a new study finds that the chemicals are also killing coral reefs worldwide. The ingredients in the sunscreen are killing off algae known as ‘zooxanthellae’ that live inside the coral. Unfortunately the chemicals kill the algae leaving behind the naked skeleton of the coral, also known as ‘coral bleaching’. Researchers estimate that 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers annually in oceans worldwide, and that up to 10 percent of coral reefs are threatened by sunscreen-induced bleaching. So go out and buy that cute hat you’ve been dying to get! Or do some research and buy reef safe sunscreen, like Badger. 


Global fish populations are rapidly being depleted due to demand, loss of habitat, and unsustainable fishing practices. When shopping or eating out, you can help reduce the demand for overexploited species by forgoing the fish from your plate. Or even better, go vegan! It’s not only overfishing that is hurting the ocean, it’s also runoff from cattle ranches. Watch “Cowspiracy” on Netflix to learn more about how going veg saves the earth and oceans!


Practice responsible diving, boating, surfing and other recreational activities on the water. Never ever throw anything into the water and be aware of marine life in the waters around you. If you decide to take a cruise for your next vacation, I highly encourage you to do some research to find the most eco-friendly option. Also if you’re free diving, please don’t get free rides from sea turtles, take pretty shells or disturb the starfish, they’re living creatures who deserve as much respect as we do.

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Ever see a cute starfish at a gift shop that you really really wanted?  Well think again because some products contribute to the harming of fragile coral reefs and marine populations, like the killing of starfish just for a little knick-knack. Avoid purchasing items such as coral jewelry, tortoiseshell hair accessories (made from hawksbill turtles), and shark products.


We are connected to all life on earth and its inhabitants. The more you learn about the issues facing this vital system, the more you’ll want to help ensure its health – then share that knowledge to educate and inspire others.


Tell your friends, family, neighbors, teachers, local chefs, literally anyone you talk to. One person can definitely make a difference but can you imagine a group of people? Today social media is a great way to raise awareness. A little way to get people excited and eager to help is to post a picture of a clean beach or a beautiful humpback whale to remind people there is still a lot left worth saving, it’s a small but easy way to inspire the imagination.

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So many organizations are fighting to protect ocean habitats and marine wildlife. If you’re around the area maybe you can volunteer or donations are always welcome!

Some of my favorite organizations are –

• Keiko Conservation

• Ocean Conservancy

• Sea Shepherd

• One Ocean Diving

• Take 3

I hope by reading this post you are inspired to help save the ocean and all the life within! Please always keep in mind we must learn to be gentle with the earth and coexist.


Thank you Maggie for sending in this beautiful piece on ocean conservation! I love diving into waves and spending every day I can at the beach, and this post really opened my eyes to how I can actively care about something I love so much. 

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  1. I loved this article! I’m glad that Maggie talked about squalene first because it’s used in so many popular products! I got rid of so many lotions and makeup products because they had squalene in them. It’s insane. Who thought of putting an animals cartilage in products we put on our skin?!?! ☹️

  2. LOVED this as a girl living near the water all her life I can’t believe I didn’t know any of this stuff!!! thanks for educating ya girl

  3. How did I not know about sunscreen bleaching our beautiful coral reefs?! Definitely looking into ocean friendly products more carefully

  4. Thank you for spreading your knowledge! I love posts like this because it makes me a lot more aware of the stamp I’m leaving on earth.

  5. Hanna Aukerman says

    Love this post! I had NO idea sunscreen had that kind of affect or that some beauty products contained shark cartilidge?!? I will be checking all my products! Thank you messy heads for you inspriation and knowledge towards helping our beloved earth

  6. Anonymous says

    Woww I did not know half of these facts! Thank you so much for informing me, I’ll be sure to start using Badger sunscreen as well as squalene-free products!

  7. Emma says

    Thank you so much for this post! I had no idea that squalene was used in products but I’ll be checking all my products from now on. This really inspired me and I want to make more of a conscious effort to be earth and ocean friendly 🙂 I love the ocean and I’ve always felt a strong connection to it and I live near it too

  8. binks says

    woah woah woah. I’m telling everyone about this
    thanks so much x

  9. Pingback: How To Love The Earth – the honey drifters

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