“If you do any simple research, you will discover and be relieved to know that the Willamette River is safe to swim in,” notes Willie Levenson, ringleader of the Human Access Project, a Portland Oregon-based group committed to cleaning up and changing the reputation of the city’s primary body of water.
For decades, the Willamette—like many rivers that flow through US cities—was a stew of industrial waste and sewage. No longer. According to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, the Willamette is safe for human recreation.
On the southern coast of Crete, accessible only by boat or a seven-hour hike through the Samaria Gorge, sits the tiny village of Agia Roumeli. During the tourist season, May through October, 100 people live in the village. But during the winter months, the population shrinks to 20 and everyone depends on visitors for their sole source of income, which leaves them vulnerable to tourism’s inherent vagaries.
Whiskered, blubbery and descended from elephants, dugongs—or sea cows as they’re commonly known—are said to have lured fishermen lost at sea. The sea mammals that gave rise to creation and other stories are at risk, just like other migratory marine mammals including sperm whales, green turtles, coconut crabs that inhabit the waters of the Pacific. The very survival of these species—threatened by rising and warming seas, extreme weather events, overfishing and the ingestion of plastics—requires a regional conservation approach. Not only is it the best hope for marine life but for the people of the Pacific Island nations that are also heavily dependent on tourism as a source of income.