Everyday is a great day to celebrate the ocean, especially today though because it is….drum roll please….
World Oceans Day is dedicated to celebrating the ocean while raising awareness of our footprint. It is celebrated each year on June 8th, and the surrounding days, by fundraising, awareness, education, and clean up events hosted all around the globe. In 2017 there are 549 events planned; 296 of which are in North America.
Participating in World Oceans Day is not limited to going to a planned event. For instance, walking a section of coast near you and picking up plastic debris would surely be appreciated by mother nature. (If you’re land locked the woods may appreciate a little pick up game too!).
Some of the appreciation can just be from reducing-reusing-and-recycling. Two simple steps to reducing the plastic that you use it to switch to re-usable shopping bags and water bottles. Sometimes (okay, almost always) change is hard at first, but once you get the swing of new habits you may find you come to like your re-usable shopping bags– if nothing else, they make getting all items in side in one trip a breeze.
If you prefer to take a passive, indoor route of celebration then you may enjoy tuning in to learn about the efforts of three Research Vessels at 6pm EDT, 3pm PDT, and 10pm (UTC); all three are currently working in different areas of the ginormous Pacific Ocean (Figure 1)!
World Oceans Day History
Ocean awareness as “World Ocean Day” was initially proposed in 1992 at the Earth Summit by ICOD (International Centre for Ocean Development) of Canada and OIC (Ocean Institute of Canada- now exists in the International Ocean Institute)- Thanks Neighbor! The Earth Summit was a United Nations conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).
World Oceans Day has been promoted since 2002 by The Ocean Project, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the World Ocean Network. These groups also led the petition from 2004-2008 that resulted in the official recognition of World Ocean Day by the United Nations in 2008, 16 years after the initial proposal.
In 2009 the name was officially changed from World Ocean Day to World Oceans Day on the technicality that there are five oceans: Pacific (~161 million km²), Atlantic (~100 million km²), Indian (~70 million km²), Southern (~20 million km²), and Arctic (~14 million km²) that make up the global ocean. The inclusion of the pluralized ocean was based on the notion that the ocean is not treated as a single entity, although based on circulation and hydrological cycling it is understandable why the initial name embraced the singular use of the word ocean.
In 2016 the Youth Advisory Council was formed with members ranging in age from 14 to 22, representing the USA, Curacao, Australia, Portugal, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Indonesia, Morocco, India, Nigeria, and Germany. The council’s goal is to bring people with unique views and ideas together to raise awareness about protecting and appreciating the oceans.
The 12 nations represented by the council are only a fraction of the nations who celebrate World Oceans Day (Figure 2). Within the many nations there are more than 2000 organizations, with varying interests, such as academic, industrial, economic, recreation, and research.
Every one or two years since the official recognition of World Ocean Day the theme has been renewed to bring attention to a specific issue. In 2017 the theme is Our Oceans, Our Future and it focuses on reducing plastic pollution and promoting marine protected areas. Previous years themes are listed below.
2017: Our Oceans, Our Future
2011-2012: Youth: the Next Wave for Change
Being aware of our actions as individuals and as a communal group will help protect the ocean. If you cannot explicitly celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8th, not to worry, the ocean is a beauty and can be celebrated constantly. Listed below are five fun facts you may share with your friends, an ironic comic, and two pictures from research trips to help put you in an ocean loving mood! Happy World Oceans Day ocean lovers!
Hello, welcome to Oceanbites! My name is Annie, I’m a marine research scientist who has been lucky to have had many roles in my neophyte career, including graduate student, laboratory technician, research associate, and adjunct faculty. Research topics I’ve been involved with are paleoceanographic nutrient cycling, lake and marine geochemistry, biological oceanography, and exploration. My favorite job as a scientist is working in the laboratory and the field because I love interacting with my research! Some of my favorite field memories are diving 3000-m in ALVIN in 2014, getting to drive Jason while he was on the seafloor in 2017, and learning how to generate high resolution bathymetric maps during a hydrographic field course in 2019!