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New ocean conservation club makes a big splash at ASU

The group focuses on marine conservation and education

Ocean Club ASU for Hannah Foote .JPG

 "Who said Sun Devils can't also be Ocean Devils." Illustration published on Sept. 19, 2018.

With the current wave of news on climate change, ASU students are striving to make a difference in marine life ecosystems by spreading awareness and promoting ocean conservation.

The ASU Ocean Conservation Club, a new group at ASU, will focus on educating students on issues concerning the marine ecosystem and setting up short-term and long-term goals to tackle ocean pollution.

“It’s important because people don’t realize how sensitive the ocean ecosystem is and if the ocean dies, we’re all screwed,” Roberta Candela, a chemical engineering junior and president of the club, said. “... It’s really important for the world.”

A long-term goal of the club is to visit beaches and oceans to clean up the area and pick up trash that could potentially harm marine wildlife. Candela said these trips would most likely be to California beaches and occur once a semester or once a year.

This club is open to all undergraduate students interested in marine conservation and is not major specific. Candela believes that all students, regardless of their major, are able to add something to the group.

“I’m a STEM major, so I’ve been reaching out to other STEM majors, but I really want it to be for everyone because everyone brings something to the table,” she said. “It’s for undergrads of any major because everyone can contribute.”

Jesse Senko, assistant research professor and senior sustainability scientist, is mentoring the ASU Ocean Conservation Club during its beginning stages as a group. Senko has an extensive background in marine ecology and conservation and notes the importance of oceans to the planet.

“If you don’t have healthy oceans, then as a species and as a society, we’re in big trouble,” he said. “Our climate will be disrupted, the food that we eat will be disrupted, and 40 percent of the planet right now has a primary protein source from seafood.”

Senko said students are able to make a difference and should learn about the significance of protecting oceans in order to create a better Earth. 

“It is important that students, especially nowadays with climate change, with all the other disturbances, learn about the importance of protecting the oceans for future generations,” he said.

Senko also said that being aware is more important than ever, especially with the pressing subject of climate change and other environmental impacts, such as Hurricane Florence.

He mentioned that students have to take the lead in order to protect and comprehend the fragility of ocean ecosystems. According to Senko, there are many ways to accomplish this goal of awareness.

“(Students) should get involved, and having a club is one way to do it,” he said. “Students need to apply their knowledge into advocating for and protecting the world’s oceans.”

Amanda Smith, a chemical engineering sophomore, is an officer of the ASU Ocean Conservation Club and is excited to share her interest of environmental conservation.

“I’ve always been involved with caring for the Earth, and I believe in doing anything we can on Earth to reduce the carbon footprint we are making,” she said.

Smith believes the ASU Ocean Conservation Club is a way for her to do more for the Earth and encourages others to do their part in reducing their carbon footprint by taking everyday actions into consideration.

“Definitely reduce any trash you throw away,” she said. “Be more aware of what you’re throwing away and try to know what is recyclable.”

Smith believes humans, especially college students, have the ability to destroy or rescue the Earth, and the club can help with educating people about this issue.

“There are ways we can all contribute to the Earth,” Smith said. “Humans do a lot of damage to the Earth and if we are more consciously aware of what we’re doing, we can reduce what we are putting in the ocean.”

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