We would love to share with you one of the entries for our Thankful for the Ocean contest from Elle O’Brien:

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Why I am Thankful for the Ocean by Elle O’Brien

There are many reasons I am thankful for the ever beautiful and raging ocean.  Ever since I was little, my family and I frequently visited and sailed through the Bahamas.  We would spend our days making sand animals and shelling.  We would go skurfing and wakeboarding.  We would swim through mystifying underwater realms untouched by human harm.  With the ocean, there is an everlasting friendship.  Even though at times it may seem raging with anger sent from the gods, it would surprise you with a gift of shells and renewed sea life the next morning.  The ocean grants you a variety of activities to do including diving, surfing, snorkeling, and an exquisite view of pulchritudinous specimens.

When I was of age I couldn’t wait to dive.  As soon as I turned ten I got certified, and then, I was off.  I went diving almost every weekend, and every day I would marvel at the spectacular wonders that were swimming in my backyard!  Another activity I had always wanted to do was surf.  Anytime there were waves (which is not that much for South Florida), I would go body surfing, marveling at the grace of the swells the strength of the surfers.  Up until recently, I had not even owned a board and the first time I stood up on it, I was overcome by waves of utter happiness, all due to the ocean. 

People will often tell me how lucky I am to live in Florida, because I can go to the beach.  It makes me think about how boring my life would be without the ocean.  I would be stuck with homework and a lack of vitamin D.  The ocean is what truly brings my life together.  Besides fun and games, the ocean also grants us weather and hurricanes.  Even though some may think of these as bad (New Yorkers), the ecosystem would be pretty messed up without them.  For example, as tropical cyclones move across the sea they help maintain a global temperature balance.  This is by moving warm tropical air away from the equator and towards the poles.  Without them, the tropics would become unbearably hot, the poles unbearably cold, and the sea life would vanish because of temperature increases.  So basically, the ocean supports itself. 

Although I love living in modern day society with its freedoms and advanced technology, there are also many downsides.  Today, I visit the same reefs that I did when I was younger, and even though I am only fourteen, I find them skeletons struggling for survival, barely alive.  There are nets draped over corals, and no more rollers in the sea grass.  The eagle rays no longer come to play and dance in the sand.  And, saddest of all, the sharks, dolphins, and other large animals are nonexistent.  Everyone thinks it is fun and games to go to the beach, but if they continue to litter and pollute, there will be no more beloved ocean to play in.