There are many environmental challenges facing the oceans worldwide. Sometimes it can be difficult to get people enthusiastic about contributing to ocean preservation. One of our favorite stories about small actions making a meaningful impact is The Starfish Story.
The original version of the story apparently appeared in The Star Thrower, a collection of essays by the naturalist and writer Loren Eiseley. The story quickly entered the popular culture and variations have appeared in other books and on many websites. One version appears below. No matter how small your actions may seem, even a small change in behavior can have an incredibly positive impact. Oceans represent a critical source of biodiversity and life for our planet. Especially today, please take at least one step that contributes to protecting our oceans!
The Starfish Story adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley 1907 – 1977
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference to that one!”