Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing.

We are celebrating World Ocean Day on the 8th of June 2023. An idea first declared at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In 2008, led by Canada, the General Assembly resolved that 8 June would be designated by the United Nations as “World Ocean Day”. The aim of this day is to celebrate our shared ocean, as well as raise awareness about the role the ocean plays in our environment, and how people can help protect it. World Ocean Day rallies the world for ocean and climate action and attempts to unite the world to protect and restore our shared ocean and create a stable climate.

The theme of this year’s World Ocean Day is “Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing”.

The ocean covers most of the earth’s surface, but only a small fraction of its waters has been explored, with many mysteries and secrets still uncovered. Despite humanity’s heavy reliance on it, and compared to its breadth and depth, the ocean receives only a fragment of our attention and resources in return.

Reasons why we need the ocean & the ocean needs us:

  1. They give us oxygen to breathe: The oceans provide 70% of the oxygen on the planet (compared to rainforests who are responsible for 28% of the oxygen). This is thanks to Phytoplankton, a microscopic plant, which spends its life being carried by oceanic currents. These small organisms act in the same way as leaves on trees do by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
  2. They act as our global climate control system: they do this by soaking up heat and transporting warm water from the equator to the poles, and cold water from the poles to the tropics. Without these currents, the weather would be extreme in some regions, fewer places would be habitable. Oceans regulates rain and droughts. Holding 96.5% of the water of our planet, almost all rain that drops on land comes from the sea. The ocean absorbs carbon dioxide to keep the carbon cycle, and accordingly temperatures on earth, in balance.
  3. It provides us with food: For more than a billion people, the ocean is the number one source of protein in the form of fish, seafood, seaweed, sushi etc. We are relying on the ocean more and more for survival taking into consideration population growth, in turn placing pressure on the ocean systems.
  4. They provide a home to many creatures: they are home to the greatest abundance of life on our planets. It is predicted that there are more than 300 000 different species underwater and it is still not clear how many of them we know about and have discovered. All the creatures that live in the ocean play an essential role in the trophic chain of the ecosystems. Due to climate change, the ocean has been warming and losing oxygen, and its pH has been decreasing. Many marine species have already been adjusting their geographic and depth ranges because of changes in sea temperature. However, not all species may be able to move to avoid thermal stress, and global warming has already been correlated with mass mortalities in the Mediterranean.
  5. They provide us with the best holidays and a place to relax and are also transport zones: The oceans links different countries and continents and allows us to visit new lands and connects us both with nature and each other. These oceanic waterways are crucial to our health, for us and future generations.
  6. They provide us with jobs and careers: The most recent official statistics indicated that 59.6 million people in the world were engaged in fisheries and aquaculture in 2016. This includes the fields of tourism (coastal and maritime), aquaculture, renewable energy, mineral resources, biotechnology, fisheries, shipbuilding, ship repair, ship salvage, offshore oil and gas, and transport.
  7. The Ocean has therapeutic properties: The ocean is therapeutic, and research has proven that the so-called blue spaces can directly reduce psychological stress and improve mood. In addition, the oceans have provided us with the tools and ingredients to improve our quality of life through medicine.

Despite all the services rendered to us as earthly inhabitants by these vast and beautiful oceans, to this day we do not know enough about our oceans. Human activities are negatively impacting the oceans by causing elevated carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, leading to temperature and sea level changes, creating massive garbage patches, destruction of habitats through drilling, dredging, destructive anchoring, chemical and hydrocarbon spillages at sea, overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices.

The oceans, in all its beauty and power, needs to be kept alive by us. The choices and changes we make now determines both our future and that of our children.

Changing the tides:

Despite the negativity surrounding the state of our oceans, it’s not too late to turn things around. We can have a positive effect by doing and supporting the following initiatives:

  • UN Ocean declaration of the next decade towards ocean science and ecosystem restoration.
  • Global sustainable development goal focusing on Life below Water.
  • Microbead ban to avoid tiny plastic pieces in the ocean.
  • Cut down on all single use plastic.
  • Minimising the use of new resources, and rather investing in reusing, sharing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling.
  • Ocean habitat restoration projects.
  • Designation of marine protected areas.
  • Implementation of sustainable fishing practices.

As we celebrate World Ocean Day, let us think of how our daily activities are impacting the ocean, and what we can do to care for the ocean as it cares for us.

“For years we thought the oceans were so vast and the inhabitants so infinitely numerous that nothing we could do could have an effect upon them. But now we know that was wrong. It is now clear our actions are having a significant impact on the world’s oceans. They are under threat now as never before in human history. Many people believe the oceans have reached a crisis point. Surely, we have a responsibility to care for our blue planet. The future of humanity, and indeed all life on Earth, now depends on us.”

 – Sir David Attenborough –