By Juliana Di Leonardo
A recent article in Science News, emphasized the importance of conserving biodiversity and keeping our ecosystems strong. The article, entitled “A Caribbean Island Gets Everyone Involved in Protecting Beloved Species,” discussed concerns with the declining populations of native orchids, bird populations, and sea urchins who live on and around a Caribbean Island named Saba due to changes in weather, climate, the abandonment of feral cats, and toxins. Scientists are encouraging locals to stay on Saba to work in conservation making it easier to assess the growth and decline of certain species. Scientists from other countries travel to and from the island but the benefits of having locals invested in protecting biodiversity is far more advantageous to the island of Saba. These scientists are spreading awareness through educational programs which not only empower individuals with the knowledge of their homeland but can cultivate respect for the beings that need help.
Many people do not realize that even the smallest of animals play a major role in our ecosystems. When I read this article, I was immediately brought back to a time when I ate animals such as sea urchins who are now disappearing without explanation in Caribbean waters. Urchins graze on algae keeping their delicate ecosystem balanced so that the organisms do not override the other animals that share the same home. They also prevent the disruption of new settlements and protect already thriving coral. Coral reefs host a major portion of marine life so without certain species, like sea urchins, the whole system can fall apart.
Fishes and sea life were some of the last animals I cut from my diet. As I regret eating anyone, the guilt of harming the animals most misunderstood hurts my heart the most. These beautiful and mysterious life forms are crafted in such a way that even after years of trying to better understand them we remain unknowing of their experience. It is unfathomable to know what it’s like to have your body function as a compound eye. There are so many interesting facts about these individuals who live under the surface and it’s more important than ever to appreciate and support the ones that are still here today.
As I transitioned to a fully compassionate lifestyle and diet. I also began to understand that animals, whether they can feel pain or not, are worthy of life. Sometimes it takes a little bit of research to understand the complexities of existing ecosystems but no matter what, each animal, big or small, plays an important role in keeping our planet balanced. For this week’s Anuvrat, I encourage you to make a small vow to distance yourself from attachment and to practice active nonviolence, ahimsa, even if another person’s/sentiment suffering is not apparent.