Covering over 70% of the Earth’s surface, our oceans are not only beautiful, but they are critical to our survival. Divided into five major basins, the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic and Southern, they hold roughly 97% of Earth’s water supply. As well as providing us with most of the oxygen we breathe, they help to feed us, regulate our climate and provide us with medicine. To preserve, protect and raise global awareness for them, World Oceans Day is now observed annually on 8th June.
World Oceans Day
Back in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro, the Government of Canada proposed the concept of a World Ocean Day. It wasn’t until 2008 however, that the UN General Assembly passed a resolution officially recognising 8th June as ‘World Oceans Day’.
This year, the theme for World Oceans Day is ‘Gender and the Ocean’, which explores the relationship between gender equality and humankind’s relationship with the ocean. Although not widely documented yet, the importance of gender equality is increasingly being recognised as a solution for the effective conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources. Widespread action towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality is still needed in order to drive positive change for all ocean-related issues.
According to the UN, ‘the 2019 edition of World Oceans Day will strive to build greater ocean and gender literacy and discover possible ways to promote gender equality in ocean-related activities such as marine scientific research, fisheries, labour at sea, migration by sea, human trafficking and policy making.”
Why are our Oceans Important?
As a continuous body of salt water, our oceans and their currents control the world’s weather and help regulate temperatures. They absorb the sun’s heat, transferring it to the atmosphere and distributing it around the world. Life in the ocean relies on phytoplankton, that floats on the surface, and through photosynthesis, they produce about half of the world’s oxygen. Incredibly, over 80% of the ocean is unmapped and unexplored, which makes you question how many species are yet to be discovered! They are also home to some of the oldest species in the world, did you know that jellyfish have been around for more than half a billion years?
In addition to this, the oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 2.6 billion people depending on them. Despite this, problems are widespread and humankind is damaging almost all parts of the ocean.
Image via 4Ocean
What problems do we face?
Plastic, fishing nets, oil, chemicals and garbage are choking our oceans, and accumulating in the food that we eat. Plastic pollution is no doubt one of the greatest threats to the ocean. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, by 2050, it is expected that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. It is also estimated that 640,000 tons of fishing nets are discarded or lost in the oceans each year, trapping and killing countless animals.
Alongside this, 2018 marked oceans’ hottest year on record, with the warmer waters leading to a range of consequences including rising sea levels and more powerful storms. Carbon dioxide is turning waters acidic, and an influx of freshwater from melting glaciers is threatening to change our global weather patterns. According to Inside Climate Change, scientists have discovered that the Atlantic Ocean’s currents have slowed by about 15% over the past few decades.
What are we doing for World Oceans Day?
At Riley Studio, we are always working towards raising awareness for our oceans and the environment, so for World Oceans Day this year we have teamed up with the incredible 4Ocean organisation to support the vital work they are doing to clean up our oceans. For every order placed on our website throughout the month of June, you will receive a 4Ocean bracelet, purchased by the team at Riley Studio. Every bracelet guarantees that a pound of trash is cleaned from our oceans and shorelines. So far they have pulled over 4.5 million pounds from the ocean, and we want to help support their continued efforts!
Image via 4Ocean