Note: This is a guest post from The Ocean Project, who supports a global network of zoos, aquariums, museums (ZAMs) and other conservation organizations, providing these partners with research, tools and other resources that help them communicate effectively with their audiences about how to protect our ocean.
As we celebrate the holidays and the arrival of 2012, we can also celebrate our world’s ocean by remembering where we live. That iconic image of Earth from space sums it up: our blue sphere is dominated by ocean that covers nearly three-quarters of our planet’s surface. In many ways we live on huge islands in a vast — yet now seriously threatened — world ocean.
No matter where we live, each of us is connected to the ocean, and each of us can help make a difference in its health. A healthy ocean is critical to our own health as well as a never-ending source of inspiration. As you think ahead to the New Year, consider making a resolution to do more to protect the ocean, our blue backyard.
One way to start is by celebrating and supporting World Oceans Day. Like an Earth Day for the ocean on a global scale, World Oceans Day provides an opportunity each year to celebrate our ocean connections and get involved in taking action.
Building on Successful Action for Our Ocean
Care2 members helped the ocean in a big way a few years ago when thousands of people from around the world petitioned the United Nations to officially recognize World Ocean Day as June 8th each year. A world community signed a Care2 petition developed by The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network, and after years of persistence, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in December 2008, marking a milestone in global awareness of the proverbial “seven seas.”
Since that time, World Oceans Day has grown in popularity, and now the event is celebrated in most aquariums across the United States, and in dozens of other countries. Each of us can easily take action right now to help protect and conserve our oceans by clicking to generate funds to support the promotion and coordination of World Oceans Day (for more information on this free action to generate funds for ocean conservation, see the last paragraph).
Why care about the ocean?
Since the days of the first sailors who navigated unknown waters, the ocean has held a special place in our hearts and minds for its beauty, awesome power and deep mystery. It has sustained our spirits with inspiration, and our societies with incredible natural resources.
But what have we given back to our blue planet?
The ocean is home to some of our most beloved and important wildlife, from the fuzzy baby penguins we coo over to microscopic algae which produce the oxygen we breathe. Our future is inseparably linked with the future of these creatures, and it’s time to decide what it will look like. Will our children gasp in joy and amazement at the brilliant colors of the coral reefs? Or will they gasp at photos of dead sea turtles and whales with bellies full of plastic bags?
The ocean and all the animals which call it home are directly affected by the actions of humans in more ways than we know. Some threats are direct and obvious, like oil spills, but most are less visible and add up over time – such as pollution from cities, farms, streets, parking lots and yards, much of it originating far from the ocean and resulting in “dead zones” in coastal waters.
Commercial fishing has depleted the ocean of 90% of large fish, and fishing practices such as trawling have been compared to bulldozing a rainforest. Ocean acidification linked to the burning of fossil fuels is changing the very chemistry of the ocean—the water in the ocean is becoming acidic, and damaging wildlife at every stage of life.
Fortunately, for us and our ocean, the good news is that we can fight for its protection and you can join the growing effort to be part of the solution for our seas.
Why a World Oceans Day?
It is clear that the ocean’s future depends on individuals and communities taking action for its protection, and conserving it for the future. Acting together, the world community can make a real difference.
Our ocean suffers from a lack of international leadership and comprehensive conservation policies. To help create the political will for change we need to achieve conservation success on local, regional, national and international scales.
World Oceans Day provides a unique opportunity to alert and rally the world community to demand a healthier world ocean that sustains abundant life for its own sake as well as for humans.
Catch the World Oceans Day Wave
Since UN recognition of World Oceans Day, interest has been growing quickly. We’re on the verge of creating a powerful movement that can become a true force for positive change.
There are many opportunities to help. With a new year upon us, it’s a perfect time to commit to ocean conservation by taking the Seven C’s Pledge. Do you enjoy volunteering on the internet? You can become a World Oceans Day Blue Planeteer. You can also help by getting involved in organizing or participating in a World Oceans Day event in your community. Click here to learn more.
You can take action right now to raise “free” money for ocean conservation. With a few thousand more people taking a quick and easy action, the sunglasses company Maui Jim will donate $10,000 to help advance World Oceans Day. Please click here to “Like” Maui Jim or send a virtual Hawaiian lei on Facebook. The catch is it has to happen by December 31 — so, please take this quick action and let your friends know.
The ocean may be out of sight for many of us, but isn’t it time to give the ocean the protection it deserves and needs? Thank you and enjoy this holiday season!