Ocean Currents

A Small Boy’s Example: Anyone Can Make a Difference for the Ocean


You are never too old—or too young—to have an impact on the world.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a five-year-old with a big heart. Ryan, whose favorite fish is “the puffer fish ’cause he blows up into a big prickly ball,” wanted to help the ocean.

With his parents Angela and Matt, he came up with the idea of creating and selling ocean-themed magnets. And he generously decided to donate half the profits to Ocean Conservancy to help protect ocean life.

When Angela considered using starfish or sand dollars for the magnets, Ryan was the one who quickly nixed this idea because they are living creatures. Instead, he picked driftwood.

This truly is a family affair. Ryan had the idea to create the magnets and the desire to help the ocean, Dad created the artwork and Mom found a local boutique to sell them.

Love of ocean knowledge
As I talked with Ryan, I was amazed by his knowledge at such a young age. He walked around Ocean Conservancy’s St. Petersburg, Florida, office and easily identified the various marine animals in pictures on our walls.

He spouted fun facts, such as, “comb jellies are not related to jellyfish…they’re bioluminescent.” After seeing a kelp forest poster, he informed me that “they get kelp to make ice cream and paint.”

Witnessing trash hurting wildlife
I was curious about what motivated Ryan to protect the ocean and its creatures. He told me, “I want to help them because I felt bad when pollution like bags got in the water… I saw a bird picking at garbage and a garbage bag almost on a shark’s gills.”

I asked Ryan what he would tell people about trash in the ocean. He earnestly hopes people will dispose of trash properly.

You can make a difference
Often when I’m discussing taking action for a cause with people, they relay the sentiment, “I’m just one person, I can’t possibly have that big of an impact on the world.”
Ryan proves that you can.

To follow your heart like Ryan does and help protect clean water, you can make simple changes in your daily life such as becoming a recycling ninja, being a green boater and making educated decisions about your seafood.

You can also participate in local waterway cleanups such as Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. Ryan will be there this fall, will you? Sign up to Cleanup!

Learn more about Ryan and his cause The Fishes Wishes on his Facebook page.

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