World Oceans Day

World Oceans Day: Why it Matters and How to Get Involved

Circle June 8th on your calendars! Known worldwide as World Oceans Day, it's a time to remember the vital role the oceans play in supporting life on Earth. 

World Oceans Day is a day of recognition. It's bursting with activities designed to educate people about how our daily lives intertwine with the oceans. Our vast oceans are the world's most significant life-givers, supplying the air we breathe.

On this day, we unite to focus on sustainable management of the world's oceans. The goal? To motivate everyone - individuals, communities, and governments - to understand their part in protecting our oceans. 

World Oceans Day helps build this understanding, reminding us that the ocean's health is in our hands.

Featured in: June - Awareness Months, Days & Observances

World Oceans Day History and Background

School fish in the ocean
Photo by Milos Prelevic on Unsplash.

World Oceans Day first caught the world's attention in 1992 during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Two Canadian organizations, the International Centre for Ocean Development (ICOD) and the Ocean Institute of Canada (OIC), introduced the idea. They aimed to highlight the oceans' vital role in supporting life on our planet.

But, it wasn't until 2008 that the United Nations officially designated June 8th as World Oceans Day. This gave the movement a global stage to discuss how we can protect our invaluable marine resources.

An increasing number of nations and organizations are joining the cause every year. The UN Division for Ocean Affairs, The Ocean Project, and the World Ocean Network have advocated for this environmental movement since 2002. Each year, the event has a different focus, shaping educational programs and global celebrations around it. 

In 2023, the theme is "Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing." This brings together various stakeholders, from decision-makers, private sector executives, and civil society representatives to youth activists and scientists, to emphasize the significance of the earth and prioritize the ocean. 

World Oceans Day has achieved some remarkable milestones over the years. In 2003, the launch of its official website made waves, providing a hub for coordinating worldwide events. 

Its alignment with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, known as 'Life Below Water,' in 2015 was even more impactful. This goal focuses on conserving and sustainably using our oceans, seas, and marine resources, which is the heart and soul of this international day.

The cause has also attracted high-profile supporters like Dr. Sylvia Earle, a renowned marine biologist, John Kerry serving as U.S. Secretary of State, and globally recognized actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Their backing has helped the message of World Oceans Day echo far and wide.

5 Reasons World Oceans Day Matters

Trash washed ashore
Trash and debris washed ashore on a beach in France. Photo by Andrei Ciobanu on Unsplash.

The vast expanse of the ocean remains largely uncharted, with only a small portion of its waters having been thoroughly explored. Here are just a few of the reasons World Oceans Day matters:

  • The ocean covers over 70% of our planet's surface. They teem with an astonishing variety of life forms. Oceans also act as our planet's lungs, supplying a hefty amount of oxygen to breathe daily.
  • But our oceans are in danger, and we're the culprits. Rampant overfishing strips them of their rich biodiversity2, tipping the delicate ecological balance on its head. This isn't just bad news for the fish; it could trigger the collapse of entire marine species and disrupt the food chains we rely on.
  • Swirling amidst the ocean currents is a growing menace: plastic pollution. Every year, a staggering 8 million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans1. This tidal wave of waste poses a serious threat to marine life and upsets the natural order of our delicate oceanic ecosystems.
  • Our carbon footprint isn't just marring the skies but also the seas. The surge in carbon dioxide emissions has sparked a worrying trend called ocean acidification3. This is particularly devastating for shellfish and coral reefs that depend on calcium carbonate.
  • When dealing with climate control, oceans are our secret weapon. They gulp down around 30% of carbon dioxide produced to dampen the blow of global warming. It's causing ocean acidification, threatening marine ecosystems.

Read more ocean facts in our deeper dive and explore why coral reefs are dying

Efforts and Initiatives

The vibrant, bustling heart of the United Nations and small hometown community groups are all doing their part to shield our oceans from harm and protect the ocean’s health. 

World Oceans Day is a worldwide celebration to rally the global village around our shared ocean and our responsibility to protect it. "How can we protect the big blue?" That's the burning question driving their "Clean Seas" initiative, a global call to action to reduce plastic pollution. It asks governments, corporations, and even folks like you and me to reconsider our reliance on single-use plastics. And the world is answering its call, with more than 60 countries supporting it.

Similarly, each year at the Ocean Conservancy, they inspire millions to roll up their sleeves and join hands in the International Coastal Cleanup, a worldwide mission focused on tidying up our waterways and beaches.

Let's catch a wave with Surfrider Foundation; their campaigns highlight water quality, beach access, and preserving our treasured beaches. They're also busy protecting our special marine areas. It's a testament to what grassroots initiative and community can achieve. 

And they're not alone. Countless organizations work tirelessly daily, not just on World Oceans Day, to preserve our oceans' health.

How to Get Involved and Celebrate World Ocean Day

Beach cleanup
Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash.

World Oceans Day isn't solely for admiring the majesty and richness of our blue planet. It also invites us all to step up for protecting and preserving our oceans. 

Are you interested in a beach cleanup? Coast-dwellers may find these events at their doorstep, hosted by local communities and organizations. Don't worry, inlanders; you're not left out. Initiating a local waterway is equally impactful. Much of the ocean's litter begins its journey from inland.

Ever thought your love for seafood could aid in ocean preservation? Your dining table can be a platform for change by consciously opting for seafood sourced from sustainable fishing methods. This simple choice ensures the delicate balance of marine ecosystems remains intact, safeguarding fish populations and their habitats. So, next time you're out for groceries or at your favorite restaurant, take a moment to find sustainable options.

Related read: Environmental Impact of Fishing.

In this era of connectivity, each of us holds immense power to raise awareness. Social media platforms are not just for selfies and banter but also a tool for change. 

Share your thoughts, experiences, or a powerful article on World Oceans Day. The ripple effect of a single tweet or post, particularly those adorned with impactful information or heartfelt personal experiences, can be monumental. 

So, why not give it a go? Use the hashtag #WorldOceansDay, and you might set a new trend among your circles. Check out our ocean quotes, and feel free to share them as a great place to start. 

Conclusion

World Oceans Day reminds us how crucial the oceans are for our survival. They're not just vast, hypnotizing expanses of blue. They're life-givers, providing a significant share of our food and the lion's share of our oxygen. They help regulate our global climate, acting as Earth's thermostat. And, of course, they are home to many remarkable species that deserve our protection. 

But there's a storm brewing beneath those tranquil waves. Our oceans are under siege. Plastic pollution chokes marine life. Climate change wreaks havoc below the surface. The victims are the very ecosystems we rely on.

Reminding ourselves of humanity’s utter reliance on the ocean is critical on this day. The responsibility to defend our oceans rests on our shoulders. It's a call to arms that we need to answer, not just on World Oceans Day, but every day. Little changes in our daily lives can create big waves. Opt for eco-friendly zero waste products. Choose sustainable seafood. Cut down on your plastic use. Inspire those around you to do the same.

World Oceans Day FAQs

1. What is World Oceans Day?

World Oceans Day is an annual global event celebrated on June 8th to raise awareness about the importance of oceans and promote the sustainable management and conservation of marine resources.

2. Why is World Oceans Day important?

World Oceans Day is vital because oceans cover about 71% of the Earth's surface and play a vital role in regulating climate, providing food and livelihoods for billions of people, and supporting diverse ecosystems. It reminds us of the need to protect and preserve our oceans for future generations.

3. How can I contribute to World Oceans Day?

You can contribute to World Oceans Day by organizing or participating in local events, spreading awareness through social media, reducing plastic consumption, supporting organizations working towards ocean conservation, and engaging in responsible ocean-related activities.

4. What are the biggest challenges facing our oceans today?

The biggest challenges facing our oceans include plastic pollution, overfishing, habitat destruction, ocean acidification due to climate change, and biodiversity loss. These issues require collective efforts to address and mitigate their impacts.

5. How can I make a difference in protecting the oceans?

You can make a difference in protecting the oceans by practicing sustainable fishing and seafood consumption, reducing single-use plastics, supporting sustainable tourism, participating in beach clean-ups, advocating for marine protected areas, and staying informed about ocean-related issues. Every small action counts towards a healthier and sustainable future for our oceans.

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1Plastic Waste Inputs from Land into the Ocean. Jenna R. Jambeck, Roland Geyer, Chris Wilcox, Theodore R. Siegler, Miriam Perryman, Anthony Andrady, Ramani Narayan, Kara Lavender Law. Science, vol. 347, no. 6223, 13 Feb. 2015, pp. 768–771, doi:10.1126/science.1260352
2

Scheffer, M., Carpenter, S., & de Young, B. (2005). Cascading effects of overfishing marine systemsTrends in ecology & evolution20(11), 579-581.

3

Doney, S. C., Fabry, V. J., Feely, R. A., & Kleypas, J. A. (2009). Ocean acidification: the other CO2 problemAnnual review of marine science1, 169–192.

Photo by Dan Stark on Unsplash
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