Threatened bubble butt | The dying Baltic Sea

Threatened bubble butt - dying Baltic Sea

Foto: Mats Heitzmann Big butts are out of fashion, and that finally gives me a bit of hope. Maybe we are approaching the point where women’s bodies are simply accepted as they are. In the case of this starfish with the bubble butt, we are not dealing with a controversial beauty trend, but with climate change, which is happening all over the world. The Baltic Sea, where this starfish lives, is on the verge of death and with it this little guy.  The baltic sea just a glimpse what our oceans are likely to face  The slow death of the Baltic Sea began a decade ago. Many people live around the waters, about 85 million in 11 countries. Nine of these countries have a coastline on the Baltic Sea. It is one of the most polluted waters in the world. And why? Because nutrients from agriculture and modern sewage systems spill into the sea and remain there. These nutrients are mainly nitrogen and phosphorus.  What happens when you change the amount of nutrients is comparable to what a plant does when you fertilise it. It grows bigger in a shorter time. In the ocean, these plants are micro-algae (phytoplancton) that grow enormously due to the increased amount of nutrients especially in summer. Not to be confused with macro-algae, which we use for sushi. The Baltic Sea then turns into an algae soup. The micro-algae first float on the sea surface and sink down after they die. The rotting algae are dissolved by microorganisms that consume the oxygen in the bottom water. The amount of oxygen therefore decreases enormously, resulting in dead zones in the ocean. Shellfish, mussels and our little starfish cannot escape this zone and die due to the lack of oxygen. This is just a simple explanation,  but the matter is much more complex.    With global warming and extensive agriculture around the world, the Baltic Sea could be a foretaste of what other oceans face in the future. The more we become aware of this, the better we can think about solutions and change our habits.  Hope on the horizon  It is still a long way to work on solutions that can counteract our destruction. I talked to an expert in the field of marine science, especially in the Baltic Sea. Mats Heitzmann is a surfer and diver, grew mussels on a prototype in the Flensburg fjord and recently came back from working on a seaweed farm in Norway. There are some projects and initiatives that try to counteract the dying of the Baltic Sea. Mats says we urgently need to reduce the input of nutrients. Factory farming and manure are harmful. This is a task the politicians need to act upon though. The Baltic Sea naturally has a lower exchange of water compared to other oceans due to its geographical conditions. The only place where water is exchanged with the North Sea is Kattegat between Sweden and Denmark. Mats tells me that there is an underwater mountain range that makes the exchange of water difficult. Mostly huge storms with a west wind can bring larger amounts of saltwater into the Baltic Ocean but with climate change, these don’t happen regularly anymore. Initiatives from the field of geoengineering trying to change this. The University of Gothenburg conducted a pilot study by pumping oxygen-enriched water to the seabed and with it airing the sea. Mats says it’s viewed critically as it is a symptom treatment and not addressing the root cause. But it could be a solution and in combination with other projects might work. Can algae be useful?  Explicitly regenerating dead zones it’s not useful, it takes more than algae farms, Mats mentions. Also, algae treat the symptom, not the cause of the problem. Despite that algae-farms are the most sustainable form of agriculture or aquaculture. They don’t need fertiliser, antibiotics or fresh water. And the best thing is – their waste product from photosynthesis is oxygen. In combination with mussels, the water becomes clearer, there are fewer microalgae and the photosynthesis of the macroalgae is better. Algae farms also advertise taking nutrients out of the water and the seaweed can be used as biofertilizer for agriculture. Own ways to act and step up for the bubble butt and its home  “You only protect what you know. With oceans, it’s difficult because most people associate it with something like holidays but don’t experience what’s underwater. Superficially, you only see the surface. Very few people have the opportunity to go diving. It’s very important to do educational work”, Mats describes. The Baltic Sea looks like a desert in many places. For people that are not aware photos and movies are a good way to show them. Recently in politics mussel fishing was banned, Mats continues. We need to avoid single plastic waste and shop locally. There is no fish where stocks are endangered except for carp. In the Baltic Sea, the fishing of cod and herring just has been banned.  Mats explaines: “In my opinion, we shouldn’t eat any fish at all and aquaculture is no alternative.’’ There is a documentary about a Norwegian fish farm you might want to watch. It’s a toxic industry for the environment and not healthy at all. As a consumer, we have a great responsibility, and power in the masses. Consume less meat, then there is less manure. In Europe, we have the possibility to live without any animal products. If you want to get involved and help save the Baltic ocean there are a handful of organisations you can support and political engagement actually exists in every major city on the coast. Nabu Germany Baltic Sea Task Force, German Foundation for Marine Conservation, Seasheperd, Marine Mammal Conservation, Coral Reef Alliance or WWF – to name a few. And just as butt implants are now getting removed, our little starfish was having a temporary bubble butt. It was just on top of a mussel, trying to crack it open for dinner.

Why the sea makes us feel good

why the sea makes us feel good

When we are at the seaside, we just feel good sitting by the sea or being in the water. Have you ever wondered why it actually feels so good? Most of the time we don’t think about what actually happens to our thoughts, feelings and bodily functions when we are near bodies of water. Or to what extent the sea has a concrete influence on our well-being. The sea can somehow influence our feelings. Small waves have a calming effect and make us feel peaceful. Large waves and rough water, on the other hand, can make us feel restless and nervous. These different wave strengths can make a direct connection to what is going on in our minds. At times when we are uncertain and anxious, things go up and down, like a big day at sea. But the sea can also be a mirror and show us what is going on inside us. We are in a time when there is a lot of uncertainty, fears arise and thoughts sometimes go crazy. Especially in difficult phases, we feel connected to nature and especially to the sea. Nature reflects emotions, moods and physical changes in all its many manifestations and can have a particularly positive effect on our well-being. The healing effect of nature has been known for a long time. Surfers know the indescribable feeling after a surfed wave, the calming effect of just looking at the sea as well as the wonderful effect of salt water on skin and hair. Feeling high from surfing After a surfed wave the whole body is buzzing. A euphoria starts spreading from the gut to all corners of the body. This is one expression of the stoke we feel from surfing. The psyched feeling makes you glow and smile all over your face. This feeling can actually make us high. We experience increased levels of adrenaline and dopamine when surfing. Adrenaline increases reaction time and raises the heart rate as the body goes into “fight or flight” mode. While the adrenaline is pumping, a certain state of intoxication sets in the brain. During activities like surfing, the chemical neurotransmitter dopamine, also known as the happy hormone, is released in greater quantities. This biochemical cocktail makes surfing a sport that captivates people because we always strive to experience that fantastic feeling. Long car journeys, days of watching the wave forecast and investing our last penny on surfing equipment – we gladly accept all this for the stoke. The best thing is that this state lasts even after we are no longer in the water. Although the adrenaline rush wears off shortly after the last wave, the surfing euphoria remains. Researchers assume that the positive effect of the sea air also intensifies this feeling.  The positive effects of sea air Researchers found that sea air contains a greater amount of negatively charged ions compared to “normal” air. These ions are the result of breaking waves because when atoms with enough energy collide, ions are released into the air. So the turbulence of breaking waves changes the physical composition of the ocean air and releases charged ions into the atmosphere. Surfers are constantly exposed to this special constitution of the air in the water or near the ocean. Scientists assume that the accumulation of negative ions has a positive effect on mood by releasing endorphins and serotonin in the body. Other environments such as snow-covered mountains, rivers or waterfalls also have a similar negatively charged air. If the beach or mountains are too far away, a shower at home with sufficient pressure can also bring about the properties of active water. Ocean therapy for mind and body The endless blue mass of the ocean soothes our eyes and mind without causing sensory overloads like social media or the TV do. When we take a sip of fresh ocean air, we feel relaxed and calm. The mind is freed from entanglements. So-called gazing at the sea can be considered a form of meditation where the sea serves as a focal point. Scientific evidence for the positive effects of gazing at the sea is hard to find. In my opinion, it is very healing, not only for the mind. The so-called thalassotherapy or “healing treatment of the sea” uses active ingredients from the sea such as seawater, algae, mud, sun and also sea air as therapeutic agents. These are said to have a healing effect on the body and mind.