By Erica Rymer, Events and Marketing Specialist
It’s summer, and for many of us that means surf, sun and sand! This season, as you enjoy the beach, bear in mind that the ocean is also an ecosystem, and you play a key role in it’s protection.
On June 8 each year, we celebrate World Oceans Day! The holiday was first proposed as an observance in 1992 by the Canadian government. Since then the event has gone global! In 2008 the UN General Assembly officially declared June 8 to be World Oceans Day. Annually, thousands of events take place in more than 120 countries and the holiday now has social media reach in the billions!
This observance reminds us that one great body of water connects everyone around the world. Not only do we use our oceans for recreation and relaxation, but we rely on this giant body of water for food, travel, and even the air we breathe. Here are a few facts about this beloved body of water:
1. Most life on our planet is aquatic.
It is no shocker that since 70% of our planet’s surface is ocean, most life also resides there. However, most people do not realize that a staggering 94% of life on Earth lives in our oceans. According to the World Register of Marine Species there are now 240,470 recorded species in our oceans, and that is only in the 5% of the ocean we have been able to explore!
2. The ocean provides a majority of oxygen on Earth.
It is estimated that 70 to 80% of the air we breathe comes from the ocean, made primarily by plants such as marine algae.
3. The ocean provides many resources we rely on in our day-to-day lives.
Sustainably sourced seafood is a treat for restaurant-goers, but there are also other resources we rely on our oceans for. Did you know that alginates (made from brown algae) are a key ingredient in beer, pickles, frozen desserts and even non-food items such as adhesives, toys, paper and ceramics? The ocean also helps us make medical advances! For example, since the makeup of coral is very similar to human bone, it can be used to replace bone grafts!
Since we can all agree that our oceans play a key role in our planet’s survival and well-being, here are a few things you can do this summer to protect oceanic environments:
- Be considerate when you are taking a trip to the ocean, or any outdoor environment. Leave no trace by avoiding single-use plastics and other items that may become litter, and make sure that you have all your things before you leave. If you see litter, pick it up and throw it in a bin.
- Make sustainable seafood choices. When eating out, choose meal options that are responsibly sourced so that species are not being depleted from their ecosystems.
- Be considerate when buying souvenirs and do not purchase products that exploit marine life, such as shark teeth, coral and tortoiseshell products.
- Learn more about oceans so that you are equipped to make choices to protect them, not harm them, and share that knowledge with others!
- Support organizations that protect oceans. Join a volunteer cleanup, or give financially to others who do work to protect ocean environments. For example, giving to your Akron Zoo’s conservation fund supports coral reintroduction and breeding programs!