It’s my first day off since I began my internship with MCEC Innoceana. Everything is planned to be a good day: some snorkeling in the warm waters of the Pacific, local and plant-based food, ticos speaking the fastest Spanish ever and some friends.
Once on the boat, after crossing the Sierpe river and seeing a crocodile chilling under the sun (which is quite understandable after last night’s pouring rain), I finally see the ocean spread out in front of me. This feeling of eternal freedom, beautiful Costarican nature and immensity immediately fills my heart. On the way to Caño Island, I see some wonderful birds flying over the sea and then, all of a sudden, one big yellow thing appears, slowly carried away by the rhythm of the waves…
Four brown boody birds, the most common sea-species, are sitting on top of this yellow fridge stranded in the middle of the ocean. They seem to wait for something. But for what? Help?
They are shipwrecks of human irresponsibility.
My heart sinks and one question comes to my mind: Why? Who on Earth would do this? I turn my head and my eyes witness another heartbreaking image: one big blue bucket filled with wriggling fishes, still alive but prisoners of this human trap. I feel nature’s pain, I can almost hear the ocean crying. The scene that we are forced to face is worthy of a film. But, this is reality. We try our best to get them out of this bucket and back into the ocean, where they came from. It feels like a relief once we see them slipping into the deep water. A relief for them, but for us as well. However, we all know this isn’t an isolated situation. It goes unnoticed more than we could ever imagine.
Animals are constantly adapting to our mistakes, to our selfishness. Why can’t we have a give-and-take relationship? They’re not less worth because they’re another type of beings. I’m devastated by what I see: species whose end is already signed up due to our egocentrism are forced to deconstruct their habitat and migrate; in other words, reinvent themselves.
It’s at that very moment that I realize how much the ocean’s ecosystem is under threat. I feel guilty to be part of the beings destroying their home, but at the same time, I’m convinced that something can be done. We have the power to overturn this tragic tendency and to build a better future, all together, driven by the same will: preserving life.
All photos by Chiara Harter