Community Blog

What's up with World Oceans Day

Aquariums worldwide ❤ oceans

To close out 2014 we’re running a show, tell, and give campaign. Show and tell us why YOU ❤ oceans, and give to support ocean conservation. To participate, use the #IHeartOceans tag on social media, and share with friends!

Our partner organizations around the world showed that THEY oceans last June 2014. Here’s how a few more aquariums worldwide came up with a stunning variety of events for visitors to participate in and show care for the ocean:

S.E.A Aquarium in Singapore went all-out June 2014, encouraging visitors to go blue with them, which is an approach we strongly support. Visitors enjoyed a roving magic show, “eco music” band with upcycled instruments, puppet shows, and more.

Participants and Bluub, the RWS conservation mascot.

Participants and Bluub, the RWS conservation mascot.

A unique event the aquarium held was the Go Blue “race” – a multi-station race over 300 students ran. At each station, contestants completed conservation or ocean-themed tasks in a race to the finish. From a contestant:

“Along the way, the 4Rs of conservation were constantly reinforced: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink… We need to consider if that purchase is a ‘need’ or merely a ‘want’. Do you know that it takes around 1,800 gallons of water just to grow enough cotton to produce one pair of jeans?”

Ocean Park in Hong Kong made their celebration special by providing a wide variety of events, and inviting different stakeholder groups in to participate. On June 1st, staff and families kicked off the celebration by collecting almost 100 kg of debris for a pre-World Oceans Day beach cleanup. A week later, on World Oceans Day, the aquarium hosted local fishermen and their families for a talk on marine debris, inspired visitors to make a pledge with bottle caps to protect the ocean, and held a workshop making upcycled musical instruments.

Sharjah Aquarium in UAE gave some marine animals a taste of the celebration, too. The aquarium released seahorses from its breeding program into their natural habitat in an effort to preserve biodiversity.

The SEA LIFE aquarium in Melbourne celebrated the ocean for the entire World Oceans Day week. The aquarium’s conservation team organized a cleanup at a local park to prevent the trash running off into the bay – and then rewarded participants with a BBQ.

They gave visitors inside the aquarium a unique look at marine litter by holding an underwater cleanup in their own tank, showing divers recycling common plastic pollution.

Aquariums can do so much for World Oceans Day! Did you celebrate at an aquarium?

Banner image from Ocean Park Hong Kong

Ocean Myths Debunked

To lots of people, the ocean is huge and mysterious. There’s a lot of rumors circulating – do you believe everything you’ve heard about the ocean? Stem the tide of misinformation with these myth busters:

Myth: There are huge islands of plastic trash in the open ocean

Truth: Yes, there is a lot of trash in the oceans, but when you’re out in the middle of the ocean plasticocean, the most harmful trash is what you don’t see. Over 95% of the plastic inside ocean gyres, has been degraded into pieces that are smaller than a grain of rice. You wouldn’t even notice the plastic pieces if you were swimming in the ocean.

The pieces are so small that animals often swallow them without noticing. This can have harmful effects to their digestive system since these fish, birds and turtles can’t digest them and so feel full without getting any nourishment.

Surprisingly, even these rice-grain sized pieces of plastic are still not nearly as harmful as mircoplastics, which can only be seen under a microscope and are small enough to be absorbed into the blood stream of organisms and alter their hormone systems. Most micro plastics come from small nylon strands in washing machine run-off.

 Myth: Sharks are vicious man-eatersSOSF-sharkfinning_infographic

Truth: Movies like Jaws often portray sharks as being vicious, human-hungry killers. In reality, sharks, like most fish, are quite shy and usually swim away from divers and swimmers when they do encounter us. Sharks are also curious, they are intrigued by us, so when they do approach a person they are merely investigating a novelty.

When sharks do kill people, it’s usually surfers who fall victim to these attacks, since surfboards can look like a seal (a delicacy for sharks) from below. Even with these instances, sharks only kill about 10 people per year, in fact you’re more likely to be killed by a falling vending machine than by a shark. While sharks only kill a few of us, it is estimated that we kill about 100 million of them every year.

Myth: The ocean provides us with seafood, and that’s about it

Truth: Seafood is critically important – 1 billion people depend on seafood as their primary source of protein, most of whom also depend on seafood as their main source of income – but the oceans give us so much more than just food:

Oceans produce 50% of our oxygen – Every second breath you take is thanks to the oceans, they are literally giving you life.

Oceans absorb 26% of our Carbon Dioxide emissions – That’s 2.5 billion tons of Carbon Dioxide, which is more than double the US emissions from cars each year.

Oceans control our weather and keep us warm – Europe is much further north than the US but has much warmer climates thanks to the warm Gulf Stream flowing reaching western Europe.

gulf_stream

Banner image from Shutterstock

Aquariums ❤ Oceans: 2014 celebrations

To close out 2014 we’re running a show, tell, and give campaign. Show and tell us why YOU oceans, and give to support ocean conservation. To participate, use the #IHeartOceans tag on social media, and share with friends!

Our partner organizations around the world showed that THEY oceans last June 2014. Some organizations had hundreds to thousands of people! Here’s how a few aquariums around the country showed their ocean support. We’ll be featuring more around the world soon:

Oregon Coast Aquarium threw a celebration that incorporated a mix of science, conservation action, and fun. There was age-appropriate storytelling, a dive show, dissection, and promises to do something for the ocean.

Alaska SeaLife Center, AK

Alaska SeaLife Center, AK

Alaska SeaLife Center – took people out to the ocean to celebrate. They hosted a boat cruise with some interesting passengers, Dory the tufted puffin and Klinger the rhinoceros auklet! This gave guests the chance to get familiar with incredible marine birds up close and learn about them and their natural habitat. Encounters like this are a great opportunity to help visitors make an emotional connection with the wildlife.

Georgia Aquarium – organized a 3-day celebration full of ocean-themed events. The aquarium hosted Animal Planet star Jeff Corwin, organized an eco-friendly “Recycle Runway” show, a scavenger hunt, and had crafts to get everyone involved.

Georgia Aquarium, GA

Georgia Aquarium, GA

They saturated their WOD event with creativity! The aquarium also had guests pledge to protect the environment and gave them a seed to plant at home, rewarding their good behavior ahead of time.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium – also tapped into their guests’ creativity, and gave away reusable canvas bags, personalized with their drawing of their favorite part of the ocean. The aquarium also held a volunteer beach cleanup, scavenger hunt, and interactive presentations on marine protected areas.

These events got guest thinking about the ocean and many visitors made pledges for the ocean and some even enacted physical change at cleanups.

If you love the oceans, sign up to organize a World Oceans Day event in 2015, or consider donating to support World Oceans Day. Thank you!

Banner image from Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey

How to save the Oceans from Inland

Do you feel passionate about oceans and nature, but never quite know how to make a difference in their conservation efforts? Do you live inland and don’t think your actions could affect the coast and the oceans? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of these questions, read on for just a few ways you can help save the oceans even if you live far away from the coast.

Realize that you DO make a difference.

You DO make a difference, this is the most important thing to always keep in mind. Just by sharing a fact you learned about your favorite marine animal and the ecosystem it lives in and showing people how all their small decisions can impact the environment, you make a big difference. Lead by example and never stop teaching those around you. Keep this in mind for each of the following points.

Recycle and reuse your plastic beach trash

Bottle lids and plastic bottles make up the second and third most common type of trash found on beaches. Even if you don’t live near a beach or have never seen a beach, you can make a difference and help keep our shore clean of debris like bottles that can cause serious harm to birds and other marine life.

Recycle plastic bags, wrappers, food containers, plastic cutlery and cups and try to reuse your plastic bottles as often as possible, before recycling those too. This not only reduces the chances of plastics ending up on the coasts through rivers and streams, but it also reduces our demand for petroleum products which in can help minimize global warming and ocean acidification.

Reduce your carbon Footprint

Lots of small changes to your lifestyle can make a big impact in reducing your carbon footprint and reducing the effects of climate change. For example:

  • Turn off lights
  • Avoid setting a thermostat as late into the season as possible
  • Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs or even LEDs
  • Use the stairs
  • Bike to work or school
  • Reuse your water bottles to avoid buying new ones

 

Making any or all of the above mentioned changes can help reduce global warming and ocean acidification. Both of these are main drivers of coral bleaching, which can have devastating impacts on marine ecosystems.

Buy sustainably harvested seafood

When buying your weekly nutritious dose of fish, make sure it has been harvested sustainably. If you can’t tell right away, just ask the vendor or waiter where the fish comes from and under what fishing conditions it was harvested, and don’t be afraid to ask loud enough that people around you can hear you too.

Download the seafood watch app or go to www.seafoodwatch.org and search for the fish you’re about to eat. Seafood watch grades a huge variety of fish and their specific fishery on the level of their sustainability.

 Support or volunteer at environmental organizations

Find out what environmental organizations are based out of your community and what they do. Then support them, volunteer for them and advertise their causes to friends and family. Any support you can give them even if it’s just spreading information about their cause to the people around you, you will be helping them out tremendously.

Plan your own World Oceans Day celebration

Start talking about World Oceans Day in your community, sign up to do an event and encourage others to join your event or start their own. You still have time before the event, so be creative about it. Think about making holding it outdoors, maybe dedicate it to your favorite marine animal or challenge yourself and your friends to reach a conservation or clean up goal within your neighborhood.

Don’t forget to encourage more people to get involved and maybe even link up with other local events. But most importantly, make it a fun day for your whole family and community.

 

Are you ready to celebrate? Click here to sign up! Check out some of our recent blog posts or our youth section for ideas.

Banner image from Marshall Islands World Oceans Day Committee

Give back for Giving Tuesday

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#GivingTuesday proves that the holidays can be about both giving and giving back

Giving Tuesday is a chance to help others

Black Friday is for chasing deals, Cyber Monday is for online shoppers – but Giving Tuesday isn’t about getting something. It’s about giving BACK to others! On December 2nd, donate to support a cause you care about, and ask your loved ones to join in.

The ocean is our planet’s heart. Like your heart pumping blood to every part of your body, the ocean connects people across the Earth, no matter where we live. In order to ensure the health and safety of our communities and future generations, it’s imperative that we take the responsibility to care for the ocean as it cares for us.

Our future depends on a clean, productive ocean! Support our work for #GivingTuesday by making a donation to help grow World Oceans Day.

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Click here to tweet or share on Facebook that you donated
to share why you❤ocean during our year-end campaign
 

World Oceans Day is people-powered

June 8th is World Oceans Day – when thousands of people around the world celebrate and take action to create a healthier ocean for everyone. Last year’s World Oceans Day again was an inspiring experience. People around the world came together and took action for the ocean’s healthy future in a big way, with over 700 events in 70 different countries, held by aquariums, zoos, schools, businesses, local governments, moms, surfers, and so many more. The funds we raise from this campaign will go towards growing the community and supporting the people who make this day possible – with free educational tools, personal support, a better website, and more.

These events don’t just happen on their own! World Oceans Day is a truly grass-roots effort, thanks to the hard work of many dedicated people all over the globe.

With hundreds of events last year that engaged 70 million people on Facebook and Twitter – all on a shoestring budget – we’re ready to do our part and make it a global rallying point for taking better care of our ocean.

Your personal contribution will help support our community of event organizers, and build World Oceans Day into a bigger global rallying point for celebration and action; it will be an even better day to unify organizations and capture people’s imaginations around the world to create important changes, locally, nationally and internationally.

USM3

By supporting us with a gift for the ocean, we’ll be able to:

  • Greatly improve the World Oceans Day online engagement platforms
  • Provide free educational materials and tools to event organizers
  • Work tirelessly to promote this event and empower our partners to be the best ocean ambassadors to their communities

 

And much more. With your help, we can collectively grow this event into a real force for change. Thank you!

 

Donate to support World Oceans Day

Go a step further! Support us all year long by checking “recurring” on your form and becoming a monthly donor.

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If you’re viewing this on a smartphone or other mobile device, click here to donate.

Reaching the Ocean: A Guide for Inland Teachers

As humans, we are all connected to the ocean through what it provides for us. But your students may not realize that their backyards are connected physically to the ocean through our waterways and watersheds! As an inland teacher, you face a greater challenge in connecting your students to the ocean – but teaching them about your local watershed is a great way to start.

A watershed is the area were the local water sources connect to larger bodies of water, such as rivers and lakes. These rivers and lakes can eventually take the water from your community to the ocean. If you’re in the US you can locate your watershed here, or check out this website to find watersheds around the world.

Be sure to make as many local connections as possible – emphasize that this is your students’ home. Once you’ve helped your students understand why what they do at home is important to ocean health, there are many ways to re-enforce the connection. Read on for some tips and resources.
Sign up now
Are you planning to celebrate World Oceans Day in June this year? Sign up and let us know!

Bringing the ocean home

Encourage wonder: Why not celebrate the ocean by learning about some of the most interesting creatures in it? For younger children especially, loving the ocean is an important first step to achieve before learning about how much it needs our help. You can teach younger students about bioluminescent fish with this activity from national geographic. You can also make a cute lanternfish craft!

The ocean in our everyday lives: Sustainable seafood is a topic that is important to all of us, wherever we are. National Geographic has a great idea for ages 3-5. They think students can create a fun sustainable fish game themselves. Here’s a guide!

Ocean health = our health: High Schoolers can learn about another important service the ocean gives us, providing medicine and other benefits. You only need access to computers and a place to share information for this activity.

A clean ocean starts on land

NOAA tells us that the majority of pollutants enteringdenmark1 the ocean, come from land activities. Every year around 1.4 billion pounds of trash ends up in the ocean. A major problem with this that marine debris – unnatural objects in marine areas – and can hurt the ocean and the animals that live there. Creatures like sea turtles can ingest these debris and perish.

Show the connection: Make it clear how trash gets from our backyard to the ocean with a watershed tracking activity. For this activity, you can trace the path of pollutants from your lawn to the sea. For older students you can use a more detailed worksheet.

Emphasize what’s at risk – and how we can help: You can create an activity to teach your students about marine debris. For younger students, give them rubber bands and let them see how hard it is to release themselves from materials that they get entangled in. You can then relate that to sea creatures, and plastic pollutants. You can also represent the movement of marine debris by creating a mini- water system.

Do more: Check out our Youth section for classroom or group project ideas that help young people involve their peers in being green and ocean-friendly.

 Want even more resources? Check out our previous blog for inland zoo and aquarium educators – there are some links that are great for any educator!

Banner image from Shutterstock

2015 – 2016 Theme: Healthy oceans, healthy planet

We’re pleased to announce the World Oceans Day theme for 2015 – 2016: Healthy oceans, healthy planet.

The ocean is the heart of our planet. Like your heart pumping blood to every part of your body, the ocean connects people across the Earth, no matter where we live. The ocean regulates the climate, feeds millions of people every year, produces oxygen, is the home to an incredible array of wildlife, provides us with important medicines, and so  much more! In order to ensure the health and safety of our communities and future generations, it’s imperative that we take the responsibility to care for the ocean as it cares for us.

Everyone’s health depends on a clean, productive ocean. Under the theme of Healthy oceans, healthy planet, we encourage our partners and friends to focus on what actions each of us can take to protect the ocean and safeguard vulnerable communities and places. Please focus on whatever issues you think are most important in your community for a healthy ocean future.

This year in particular WorldOceansDay.org will provide special resources on plastic pollution. The ocean and its wildlife is choking on plastic, and we need to both stop this pollution at the source, and clean it up from the coasts.

Why is a healthy ocean important to you? Share your hopes and vision for a healthier ocean!

If you’re pretty sure you’d like to celebrate this year, fill out this form and let us know! This will help us get you important info for organizing an event or celebration as soon as possible.

Heart image via Shutterstock.

Event idea: Divers can promote green energy for a blue ocean

Divers need clean, green energy to keep their blue ocean safe. Why does the energy you use matter? The short answer is: burning fossil fuels pollutes. The global climate is changing, and rising ocean temperatures cause many negative effects to the ocean. The ocean is becoming more acidic, its circulation patterns are changing, and the sea level is rising. This is hurting places that divers love. But, we can make a huge difference by ditching fossil fuels, and supporting clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

Corals are in peril

The coral reefs that many divers get to see up close, are especially in danger from coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is when corals respond to the stress of warming waters by expelling their colorful algae. This can kill the coral – the backbone of an entire ecosystem. Coral bleaching is expected to increase as ocean temperatures do, and the warmer waters also increase the spread of coral diseases. We are quickly losing corals, a staple for divers and a big pull for ecotourism. In order to save them, we must make some changes in our lives.

Help coral reefs for World Oceans Day – support clean energy

Dive shops can help out by being proponents of green power and energy saving. Go all the way by using marine solar panels on your boats when going to dive sites, or starting up a car pool program to get people to your shop, to save energy on the way. Or, make a splash just for World Oceans Day:

    1. Talk about it – start a conversation about clean energy with customers on World Oceans Day. If you are unsure of how to talk about energy reduction, check out this guide by the EPA.
    1. Make a special offer for World Oceans Day – reward customers who carpool to your shop or a site!
  1. If you’re in the US, ask your customers to sign up for a home energy audit, provide information about energy efficiency help and rewards, or let them know they can buy clean energy directly.

Divers need the green movement and are in a great position to move it along. They can help maintain the ocean so future generations can also enjoy the wonderful world under the sea, as they too dive beneath the waves.

Divers and shop owners – would a 1 page handout help you talk to your customers about World Oceans Day and clean power? Let us know!

Top banner image from Guy’s Trust

Event idea: mix it up with a festival

World Oceans Day is about bringing people together to celebrate and improve communities. A great way way to get the whole community involved is throwing an ocean themed festival! A festival can be a big bash on its own, or a twist on an existing event.Read on for some examples and tips for organizing your own festival for this June.

Activities and action for the ocean

This past June, Our World is Blue held their annual Downderry & Seaton Ocean Day in the UK, which attracted 250 people. The group worked with multiple partner organizations and made sure their event was interactive to keep people interested and engaged. Their activities included: a youth sea creature competition, ocean artifacts and microscopes to interact with, a display of local fish, cooking demos, ocean animation demos, and much more. They kept the focus on the need for action by asking visitors to make an Ocean Pledge when entering the event.

Plett Hope Spot Committee in South Africa also had an assortment of activities to celebrate World Oceans Day and Plett’s unique beauty and importance. Visitors could attend a marine art auction, clean ups (both on the beach and underwater on the reef with local divers), a sand castle competition, and volleyball. The event was an opportunity for community members to have fun be a part of protecting a very special local place.

Quick Tips on Planning a Festival

  • Plan a variety of things happening, geared at many different ages. This way you can attract whole families, and keep their attention. A great way to do this is to invite a mix of different community organizations like nature centers, businesses, recreational clubs, non-profit organizations, etc.
  • Get people to commit to coming ahead of time, by having registrations for competitions (such as a sand castle competition, local seafood cooking competition, and an ocean-themed art competition).
  • Spread the word of your event in many different settings. Try sharing with local businesses, schools, local newspapers, and online event listings.
  • A way to punch up your beach cleanup is to give it a twist. One possibility is to start the day off with a beach clean-up and end it with a sea castle competition. You can teach people how to safely remove trash, and why a trash-free sea is important while also giving them a chance to enjoy their newly cleaned beach!

Are you planning on holding a celebration for World Oceans Day in June 2015? Let us know right now, so we can make sure you get all the info you need!