Community Blog

What's up with World Oceans Day

Shaping a conservation “ask”

This year, we’re encouraging all participating organizations to create celebrations that go beyond raising awareness to inspiring action under the theme, “Together we have the power to protect the ocean!” We want to make real change for the ocean, so we need to ask people to do something to keep the ocean healthy.

The Action Guides we’ve posted focus on marine debris, clean energy, and sustainable seafood. But what do you do if those actions don’t fit into your celebration? This post by Douglas Meyer lays out four key steps for designing an inspiring “ask.”

Click here to download this guide as a PDF


Organizational decisions


Pick a problem

Among the various problems facing our ocean and its animals, which one would you like to address with reference to World Oceans Day?

Establish a connection

Is there a specific species or a particular place that is relevant to your organization and your visitors, and can be used as an example?

Decide on a solution step

  • What are the various ways you could ask visitors to help?
  • Which of these are a good “fit” for you and your visitors? Some considerations based on research and experience:
    • Are you suggesting something that is both meaningful and measurable?
    • Is this above and beyond what most visitors already are doing, but not too much of a stretch?
    • Is there a logical “next step on the ladder” for those who already have done, or are doing what you are suggesting?
    • Will visitors trust and appreciate this suggestion coming from you?
    • Can visitors start, if not complete the action while on site?
    • Is there another organization with which you could partner? Hint: Your success may lie in referring visitors to an existing program rather than in trying to create your own!
    • Which of these are easy for visitors to share with others?

    Set a goal

    • In one sentence, what do you hope to accomplish?
    • Is this goal “SMART” (Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound)?


    Audience considerations


    Determine the decision makers

    • Is there a specific subset of visitors who will be your decision makers? Reminder from the research that teens and young adults often have not only the highest interest in ocean issues, but the highest belief in their own ability to make a difference.

    Understand their current position

    • Do you need to frame, fortify or reframe the issue as part of your ask?
    • Is your ask one step beyond what your audience is already doing on this issue, but not too much of a stretch?
    • Can you connect your ask to a clear benefit for a specific species or particular place?
    • Can you provide them with an initial, if not the final step to take during their visit, whether on site or online?
    • Based on your answers to the above, do you think this ask has a high likelihood of success? If yes, proceed. If not, pick another!

    Shape your message to your audience

    • What core concerns or beliefs can you tap to increase their willingness to act?
    • What barriers to action might you need to overcome?
    • Can you start with the solution, and position your audience within it?




    Explore the possibilities

    What are the best ways to deliver this ask to this visitor audience?

    Consider the realities

    • Which of those are possible within the limits of time and budget?
    • Advice from our partners: Keep it simple! It is often better to focus your team on one tactic for World Oceans Day, and do it well, than to try to coordinate three or four different approaches.

    Remember, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

    Is there an approach that you’ve seen work elsewhere?


    Measures of success


    Beyond outputs to outcomes and impact!

    How might you measure the number of visitors taking action, and, ideally, the collective impact of those actions? In light of how public opinion research tells us that visitors expect, trust and appreciate advice on how they can help conserve the ocean and its animals, how might you track this?

Miles from the coast – how to make the connection

Even if you’ve never had the chance to see or touch the ocean, the ocean touches you with every breath you take, every drop of water you drink, every bite you consume. Everyone, everywhere is inextricably connected to and utterly dependent upon the existence.

- Dr. Sylvia Earle

As coordinators of World Oceans Day, we’ve been asked many times: “How can I help people understand that we’re linked to the ocean, even if we live hundreds of miles from a coast?” This is an especially important question for our zoo, aquarium, and museum (ZAM) partners, as these institutions are increasingly serving as trusted conservation messengers to the public. This blog post is directed towards ZAMs, but the resources should come in handy for anyone inland who wants to educate about our connection to the ocean.

Challenges for Inland ZAMs

Inland ZAMs have the particular challenge of addressing marine conservation issues as their locations are away from the sea. Visitors at zoos and aquariums were found to have identity-related motivations behind their visits (Falk et al. 2007; Falk et al. 2008), but with significant geographical distance from the sea, inland ZAMs must find creative ways to make issues of the ocean conservation relate to the identities of their inland regions.  Making connections between land and sea can help inland ZAMs redefine their visitors’ understandings of their own identities in relation to the ocean, and encourage conservation action. Here are some ways to address the problems inland institutions face.

Problem: Clearly establishing the connection between inland areas and the ocean


  • Highlighting the ecological, social and economic importance of the oceans
  • Making the watershed connection
  • Addressing land-based sources of pollution
  • Bringing consequences of pollution back to local interests

Problem: Engaging visitors in and promoting environmental action okaaquarium


  • Connecting identities of visitors with ocean conservation issues


Resources and Lessons

Here are some free resources online that can help you make that connection!

 Highlighting the importance of the oceans:

 Watershed connection and conservation: mississippi river_tyrone turner_mini

 Addressing land-based sources of pollution:

Consequences of pollution:

  • Sources of SeafoodDartmouth Toxic Metal Superfund Research Program – Report about mercury pollution in marine ecosystems and the implications it has on human health. The report addresses the sources of mercury, the cycling and uptake of mercury in ecosystems, the presence of mercury in seafood, and the policy implications.

 Engaging in and promoting environmental action:

Lights out, power up. Support clean energy this Earth Hour

Tomorrow is Earth Hour, a day when people around the world turn out the lights to show dedication to using their power to protect the planet.

World Oceans Day this year has a similar theme – Together  we have the POWER to protect the ocean! 70% of the Earth is ocean, and supporting clean energy sources is one of the most meaningful ways individuals can keep it healthy. The less carbon we burn, the healthier our coral reefs and other vital ocean wildlife will be.

That’s why we’re officially launching our campaign to support clean energy on Earth Hour. For as little as $5, you can buy a clean energy credit that supports wind energy projects in the marketplace. Our goal is to reach 10,000,000 kilowatt-hours of wind by June 8th, World Oceans Day.text-ocean

You can help us reach this goal! Visit to buy your own credit now. You can also help by spreading the word to your friends, family, and social networks:

Ask people who want to support wind energy to text “ocean” to the number 67076 on their cell/mobile phone, and in return they’ll get a link to, a secure site where they can obtain more information, complete their purchase, and help the ocean. Or you can link directly to that page.

Post one of these photos on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter to spread the word!


World Oceans Day celebration organizers

Love this idea? We make it super easy to incorporate this action into your celebration or event.

Click here to view the Clean Energy Action Guide
Download Download the guide as a PDF

One Person’s Trash is an Artist’s Masterpiece

Most all of us enjoy strolling along the beach, listening to the waves as they gently lap the shore while we gaze upon the seemingly endless horizon, providing us with a feeling of genuine serenity. This feeling quickly dissipates when we come across a used straw or a bottle cap, reminding us that in our everyday lives we often forget our responsibility as stewards of the environment and show little regard for the beauty of nature with which we have been blessed.

Today, there’s a new emerging form of art which, of all things, makes use of plastic and other marine debris which has been washed ashore. In fact, Washed Ashore, is one of many new examples where “large art sculptures of sea life are made from plastic marine debris”. Washed Ashore showcases its marine debris art during its traveling exhibition, stopping at schools, colleges, aquariums, museums and other events. The mission of Washed Ashore is to create awareness about marine debris and plastic pollution through art. This unique and innovative approach towards creating awareness is being championed by individuals and organizations alike, even the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has started a marine debris art contest for students from kindergarten to the 8th grade.

fish debris

There are many examples of this happening in the international domain as well. For example, Gerhard Bär, a German artist has taken a particularly unique approach through using waste to make art to assist in achieving aesthetic and ecological targets. He also draws connections between waste and identity in an innovative and intriguing way.

One of the most recent examples of this new form of art on display is the Gyre Exhibit which can be found at the Anchorage Museum. The exhibit, which will be on display from February 7 – September 6, aims at raising awareness of our throwaway culture and “explores the relationship between humans and the ocean in a contemporary culture of consumption”.

These are just a few references to the new age of waste being transformed into art, there are many more to be found and many more to come. Have you tried turning waste into art lately? Maybe you could be the next Van Gogh; all you need is a little inspiration and a little trash!

An invitation for youth worldwide


Let’s celebrate the next World Oceans Day together
8 June 2014

Bringing together the next generation to protect our oceans!


What do we invite you to celebrate?

World Oceans Day 2014 – 8 June – it’s the occasion to celebrate the beauty and awesomeness of the oceans and to engage with others around the world in protecting them more effectively from multiple threats.

Who is invited?

Schools and youth groups from around the world, who want to learn about the oceans and how to protect them.

Participants need to have an identified teacher or coach who is the focal point for the cooperation.

Two age groups are distinguished: (a) < 12 years of age and (b) 12 years and above.

How to participate?

We invite you to tell your story about the ocean and how to protect it either through a short video or a Pecha Kucha powerpoint presentation. We also want you to accompany your visual story with a short illustrated report describing the experience in developing and producing your story to better appreciate your visual story in context.

We welcome international school partnerships and single entries.

You need to register so as to be considered for support during the project and for the prizes for particularly good results. Registration can be done with a registration form (see website below) submitted by e-mail to

Why should you participate?03

The initiative has two objectives: (a) learn more about the oceans to help protect them from overfishing, climate change with acidification, and pollution, particularly ubiquitous plastic; and (b) to the extent possible, to practice local and international cooperation by engaging with other schools, government, civil society organisations, companies, interested individuals in celebrating and protecting the oceans.

What are the deadlines?

The deadline for electronic submission of products is 30 April 2014 at 17h GMT to You are encouraged to register earlier so as to facilite planning for the prizes and celebrations.

An international jury will examine all entries in May 2014 and determine the winners of many prizes to be announced during a public ceremony close to 8 June 2014, World Oceans Day to honour participants.

The decision of the jury can not be challenged in the courts.

If you are interested in celebrating World Oceans Day together, read on at!

Chart a New Course

Good news for mariners moving about US waters! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have recently posted an interactive catalog of all of their charts available for public download.

Including all of the United States and its territories, this is an excellent resource for anyone celebrating the ocean. From Guam to Cape Cod charts are available for download as “paper”, electronic files, and Coast Pilot® navigation books.


Having easy access to the most recent charts will greatly cut down on avoidable collisions with the underwater landscape. While this is great for your boat, it is also great for the ocean. We all know that damage to reefs can have long lasting effects on the local ocean health, but even hitting rocks or the ocean floor can damage habitats of small important critters.

Also, by being able to print the charts on your own, you can be more selective about which individual ones you need, saving paper. Having the ability to access them by the web means avoiding making a trip and using gas, all things that the ocean appreciates!

The charts are available here at NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey.

Sign up for Dr. Seuss materials

WOD Logo 2013Thanks to the partnership between The Ocean Project, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and Random House Children’s Books, we were pleased to offer great materials based on characters from the book One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

The Dr. Seuss World Oceans Day Kit includes:

  • Age-appropriate marine conservation and educational activities featuring Dr. Seuss’ One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish classic book characters
  • Customizable Dr. Seuss graphics and fonts to help market your event


Sign up now to receive the 2014 Dr. Seuss Kit

If you’d like to download a copy of the Dr. Seuss World Oceans Day Kit, please sign up here. By filling out this form you are acknowledging that you are a partner of The Ocean Project. Not a partner? Sign up now – free and easy! Click here to join.

Not sure if you’re a partner? Click here to search on our Partner Map. Please note whether you’re a partner organization of The Ocean Project. Sorry, we’re not distributing the Dr. Seuss materials to individuals!

Divers use technology and fun to inspire kids – young and old

Divers have a special view of the world – when they dive, they connect with the ocean in a way that people who haven’t can’t understand. Maeva Gauthier and Mike Irvine wanted to bring that world to people on land, so they created the Fish Eye Project to create a “window into the ocean” to connect communities and classrooms to the underwater world. I spoke with Maeva and Mike about their World Oceans Day 2013 event at Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria, BC, and what advice they have for divers who want to share their world with others.onthedock_mini

Mike: “I love diving because it is a part of my family. My mother, father and grandfather were divers, who are all equally fascinated with the ocean. My parents met scuba diving! Through my family I learned an appreciation for the ocean and the way it connects families and communities locally and globally.”

Why is it important for divers to get involved with ocean conservation? Mike told me “Anybody who’s a diver, it’s a lifestyle… why wouldn’t you want to protect the thing that you love so much? When we go diving, it’s phenomenal, it’s serene, you don’t move quickly, everything slows down, and you just take your time and enjoy the view. Having that experience and opportunity gives a diver a different perspective, and they can share that with family, friends, and the public.” As Maeva said “The firsthand experience is very powerful… divers can help connect people with that [underwater] world.”


World Oceans Day 2013

Fisherman’s Wharf is a coastal destination near Victoria’s Inner Harbour. There’s food, shopping, eco-tourism, and even a community of “float homes” – permanent residential house boats! The wharf held a major World Oceans Day event in 2013 with fun for kids, entertainment, educational kiosks, and more.

On the wharf itself, the folks at Fish Eye Project held several live dive demonstrations designed to captivate adults and kids alike (Maeva: We want to engage kids – but also big kids!”). The divers wore cameras to capture video of the underwater scenes they encountered, which was broadcasted in real-time on monitors on the dock. Mike said he wanted to use video to get kids excited about the ocean, echoing Sylvia Earle’s calls to “give people an opportunity to see what’s there, so they have a change to care for it.”

Fish Eye Project also partnered with the World Fisheries Trust to introduce guests to underwater critters. Divers brought up hardy species – such as decorator crabs and sea cucumbers – to the surface, for World Fisheries Trust educators to introduce to kids in touch tanks, and taught them about their biology.


Tips for a dive eventtouchtanks_mini

Want to hold your own live dive event for World Oceans Day? Here are some tips from Mike and Maeva.

Get permission

It’s important to make sure that your activities legal, safe, and courteous. Fisherman’s Wharf in particular is also residential community, with float homes, so it was essential to get community approval. Fish Eye Project also worked with the harbor authority to work out logistical issues, such as keeping boat traffic away from the divers.

Schedule your dives

Fish Eye Project did several dives during their event at specific times. That way, they were able to attract a crowd that was not too large, not too small. Also – schedule the dives so that visitors get to watch the divers suit up. Kids love the set up and equipment, Maeva said “The kids get very excited by the divers themselves, seeing them, asking questions about their equipment, and watching them jump in the water.”

Be prepared

Practice, practice, practice! Especially if you are using equipment that is new, or you’re diving in an unfamiliar place. Make sure you have a good power source, and be prepared to troubleshoot any technical issues. Things may definitely come up that you don’t expect. For example, next year Fish Eye Project plans to bring a tent for the dock, since sun glare can interfere with the monitors.

Seize opportunities to talk about human involvement

Be sure to speak with your audience about what they can do to keep the ocean healthy! These opportunities often arise for divers in the form of ocean trash. Mike told me “Sometimes under Fisherman’s Wharf we do find things people have just dumped in and you see it on the screen. That’s our opportunity to talk about it and why you shouldn’t just chuck that in!”

Mike also mentioned that their interpreters with World Fisheries Trust built in conservation messaging when talking with visitors about the marine animals the divers brought up. This is a wonderful strategy, since people will be face to face with the animal they will be helping with their actions.


What’s next?

What’s next for Fish Eye Project? Maeva says they plan to do many live dives this summer in the Victoria inner harbor, in partnership with World Fisheries Trust. They’re also moving forward on installing artificial reefs in the form of Reef Balls at Fisherman’s Wharf to educate people about marine restoration and the role of artificial reefs.

To learn more about Fish Eye Project, visit

If you’re interested in the technology that Fish Eye Project uses for their events – SubEye Technologies – feel free to shoot them an email.

It’s International Polar Bear Day

Today is International Polar Bear Day, a day when Polar Bears International (PBI) focuses attention on the problems polar bears face in a warming Arctic and how each of us can help. For the second year in a row, they’ve organized a worldwide Thermostat Challenge to celebrate the day, one of seven action events in their Save Our Sea Ice (SOS!) campaign. The goal is to keep polar bears in the Arctic, always.

With the Thermostat Challenge, PBI invites people and businesses around the world to adjust their thermostats up or down by at least two degrees—depending on where they live—and to make this action a habit. They also encourage people to invite others to join and to speak up to elected officials in support of energy-saving measures.

“Our research shows that two-thirds of the world’s polar bears will be gone by the middle of the century unless we take action to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Dr. Steve Amstrup, PBI’s chief scientist. “The Thermostat Challenge raises awareness of how our daily actions impact the polar bear’s sea ice habitat. By taking part in this initiative, we can lower our carbon emissions and show our commitment to action on climate change.”

Participants in the Thermostat Challenge are invited to post photos of their actions on the Community Page of PBI’s Save Our Sea Ice campaign. While there, visitors can also commit to additional actions. Choices include those at the individual, community, and policy levels, all of which are needed to stop climate change.polar-bear-day

The Thermostat Challenge is the launch event for PBI’s larger Save Our Sea Ice (SOS!) campaign, a series of conservation challenges that begin on international Polar Bear Day, February 27th, and continue through Polar Bear Week in early November. The SOS! challenges include a Power Down Challenge on Earth Hour, a No Idling Challenge on Earth Day, a Bike Commute Challenge on Endangered Species Day, an Energy Challenge on World Oceans Day, a Green House Grocery List Challenge on Arctic Sea Ice Day, and a Shop Wise Challenge during Polar Bear Week. Each challenge includes actions at the individual, community, and policy levels. The goal of the campaign is to motivate greenhouse gas reductions to stop global warming.

“These challenges are a great way to start making every day a polar bear day,” says Krista Wright, executive director of PBI. “We all make countless daily decisions that have an impact, and it’s important to remember that, collectively, they add up.”