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Give Back to Big Blue

Authored by Bill Mott

First, a little background on our world’s ocean. In many ways, the ocean is the blue heart of the planet; it shapes climate, weather, is the primary source of protein for approximately three billion people, and is home to an estimated 50% of all species on Earth. While many consider the rain forests the lungs of our planet, microscopic plants in the ocean called phytoplankton actually produce half of the world’s oxygen. Think about that next time you breathe. The ocean is also the world’s largest carbon sink, and as we emit more carbon every day, we increasingly risk causing irreparable damage to this critical resource, and ourselves. Protecting the ocean is relevant to everyone; whether you live in Miami or Mongolia, the ocean plays a vital role in keeping our planet’s ecosystems in a healthy balance.

At The Ocean Project, we are dedicated to working collaboratively to empower people to get engaged in conservation and take action to help protect and conserve our shared ocean. We focus on our network of aquariums, zoos, science museums, youth groups, conservation organizations, businesses, and others, many of whom are 1% members and NGO collaborating partners. We support them all in effectively engaging with their millions of visitors and the public to help advance ocean and climate conservation and create a more sustainable society. By achieving conservation success one person, neighborhood, and community at a time, we are collectively creating the political will for change needed at national and international, and corporate scales, helping to develop the international leadership, comprehensive conservation policies, and corporate sustainability policies that will drive real change.

Photo Courtesy of The Ocean Project

One of the ways in which we help is through promoting World Oceans Day. On June 8, World Oceans Day provides an opportunity to honor the ocean and its great diversity of life, as well as our own connections and ways we can each make a difference. Together, we have the power to protect the ocean!

This recently United Nations-recognized day for ocean celebration and action is growing rapidly. Each year we strive to increase awareness and get individuals and organizations to do something for the ocean, including holding community events. In 2002, when The Ocean Project “adopted” World Oceans Day, only a handful of countries and organizations were celebrating this event. Last year there were over 600 events held in 70 different countries and we expect these numbers to increase rapidly in the years ahead!

Over the winter and spring our dedicated team of staff and interns has been hard at work conducting outreach, developing materials to assist individuals and organizations in participating in World Oceans Day, and supporting them in incorporating measurable conservation actions into their events. For example, there are action guides for event organizers with tips and recommendations on how to help protect the ocean by supporting clean energy to address ocean acidification and climate change, reducing plastic and waste to create cleaner communities and coasts, and choosing sustainable seafood to help drive demand for more sustainable fishing and aquaculture operations.

Additionally, we have launched a World Oceans Day social media campaign Selfies for the Sea where we encourage individuals and friends to participate in World Oceans Day by taking a picture of themselves doing something to help the ocean or making an ocean promise.

Photo Courtesy of The Ocean Project

We encourage you to mark the day in some special way and you can find out more about getting involved at www.WorldOceansDay.org or contacting me directly if interested in partnering.

- Bill Mott is the Director of The Ocean Project. Reach him at bmott@theoceanproject.org.

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