The Ocean’s View of Tashlich

Tash Crowd 1
If you were at the beach just before sundown a week ago, you may have noticed unusually large numbers of groups of folks, standing at the water’s edge, throwing breadcrumbs out of their pockets and into the water. This is part of the Jewish ritual of tashlich in commemoration of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish new year.

Tashlich is designed to remind us that we need to take responsibility for the consequences of our actions. As a new staff member of LA Waterkeeper, standing at the ocean’s edge, the ritual had a new significance for me. A week before that, I participated in my first Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Watch aboard Waterkeeper, with Captain Michael Quill at the helm as our group of five volunteers were on our maiden voyage. Our purpose was to observe and track illegal fishing activity in the region’s newly established marine protected areas- special preserves set aside for fish species and habitats to recover from decades of over-consumption.

It was a beautiful day as we sailed northward past Santa Monica and the other beautiful beach fronts into the Pt. Dume MPA, off the coast of Malibu. En route we “rescued” many clusters of metallic balloons, remnants of happy times for the original recipients but devastating to marine animals and logged in several commercial fishing vessels violating the space. Looking through binoculars, we could make out several fishing boats. We took GPS and time readings, as well as estimated distance from our position for each fishing boat we saw, information that would be sent to the coastal authorities. We were then escorted back to the marina by a large pod of very joyful jumping dolphins.

MPA Watch gave me the ocean’s view of tashlich for the first time. A stray balloon flying into the air ends up in the ocean, harming marine animals. Illegal fishing has a significant impact on our fisheries’ ability to recover and thrive. We need to take responsibility for our actions and remember that our actions will have consequences that may be detrimental to the environment.

So, as my crumbs joined those of others’  flushing back onto the beach with the incoming surf, I reformulated the opportunity at the beginning of this new year by taking in the wonder of the ocean’s capacity to purify us…if we give it a chance. I am very honored to have the opportunity to do that in a profound way by working with LA Waterkeeper.

– Lauren Deutsch


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