Chances are if you’re reading an Ocean Mimic blog, then you like water sports. Think back to what sparked your initial relationship with the water. Was it a walk along the beach? A trip on a boat? A riveting documentary? Or perhaps it was your participation in some water sport for the first time?
The way people form emotional connections to outdoor environments is really important. That’s because the more emotionally connected one is to the ocean, the more likely they’ll be to make behavior changes to benefit it! Research demonstrates that humans are more likely to feel empathy towards the people, places, and things they have direct relationships to. It is harder to care deeply about something that you’ve never seen, witnessed or experienced. Water sports like swimming, diving, and surfing are some of the most profound ways to create this relationship!
Efforts to protect and conserve waterways are usually fueled by passion and empathy. Because a majority of people volunteer their time and energy to live more sustainably, do an ocean clean up, or raise awareness about an ocean issue, they need to have the motivation to do so!
Water sports can be an excellent vehicle for creating this connection between individuals and the marine environment. While visiting an aquarium and watching documentaries can be powerful, water sports connect the human condition to the waves and water unlike any other activity. Ask any avid aqua-related athlete: there is something about the physicality of the sport and your connection to the water that is hard to put into words! It is as close as we can come to understanding the language of the ocean.
Getting people out there in the water helps them connect to its magic. People who have never even seen or swam in the ocean before will struggle to make an emotional connection to conserving it. In this way, one of the biggest drivers of ocean conservation efforts led by civilians could be water sports and activities.
Raising awareness about and promoting water sports is important for this reason! The more people that join the water sports community, the more ocean warriors there will be. In most cases, participating in a water sport involves some level of environmental education. You may learn how to perform your sport without harming or impacting the marine life. You may also learn how your sport can be done in a way that positively benefits ocean science, through citizen science programs, restoration activities, or cleanups. Water sports offer a creative, unique, and alternative way to get active and outdoors as well.
Think of water sports as only diving, sailing, and surfing? Think again! There are hundreds of various water sports, some more common than others. While it’s not an extensive list, check out these activities:
- Diving (Freediving or Scubadiving)
- Canoeing or Crew
- Water Skiing
If you’re planning to take part in these activities anytime soon, be sure to take a moment to be present and consider the gravity of what you are witnessing in the water! The ocean is a unique and fascinating ecosystem, and being a guest in its waves can light a fire in our hearts to protect it as much as we can.