World Ocean Day 2024: Why and How to Take Part

Every year on June 8th, we celebrate World Ocean Day; A day dedicated to appreciating the many gifts that our oceans provide. It is a chance to reflect on the deteriorating health of our marine environments due to human activities and take action to protect and restore these vital ecosystems.

The planet’s oceans are home to countless animal and plant species and serve as a sanctuary for us divers and marine enthusiasts. Unfortunately, our oceans are under increasing threat from human impacts and climate change. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to get involved in efforts to create a healthier ocean for future generations.

The situation is urgent, but it is not too late to make a difference.

In this article, we will look back at the origins of World Ocean Day, its current status, and ways you can participate this year to support ocean conservation.

The History of World Ocean Day

World Ocean Day was first proposed by Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The idea gained traction, and by 2002, global promotion and coordination of the day began. In 2003, the World Ocean Day website was launched, and 25 events were held across 15 countries. 

After a four-year petition drive, the United Nations officially recognized World Ocean Day in 2008, adding an ‘s’ to make it "World Oceans Day." The day has since seen the establishment of a Youth Advisory Council, and by 2021, the ‘s’ was dropped, emphasizing the concept of "one ocean that connects us all."

Each year, numerous organizations, water sports centers, and individuals celebrate World Ocean Day by reflecting on their impact on the ocean and spreading awareness about the threats it faces.

Love corals like we do? Here is: Coral Mission Foundation – A Rising Star amongst Coral Conservation Organizations

Why we need to protect the world’s oceans

The health of our oceans is jeopardized by various factors. Climate change and rising global temperatures are causing ice caps to melt, sea levels to rise, and coral reefs to bleach. Ocean acidification (a result of increased CO2 levels) also disrupts marine life. Plastic pollution entangles marine life, suffocates seabirds, and damages marine habitats. Single-use plastics account for 89% of plastic found on ocean floors and approximately 11 million tons of plastic enter the ocean annually. Lastly, run-off pollution such as waste from sewage, agricultural run-off, and pesticides pollutes coastal waters, harming marine ecosystems.

The ocean is not only a hub of biodiversity, but it is also critically important to human life. 

While forests are often associated with oxygen, the ocean produces more than half of the oxygen we breathe. Protecting our oceans is essential for maintaining this critical supply of oxygen. The ocean also provides us with fish, which provide a primary source of animal protein for many communities and support the livelihoods of 10-12% of the world’s population. Overfishing poses a severe threat to this vital resource, making sustainable fishing practices essential. 

Want to be more eco-conscious? Check this out: The Ultimate Guide To Being An Eco-Diver

Another way the ocean is important is that coral reefs act as natural barriers, protecting coastlines from the destructive forces of ocean waves and storms. The ocean also absorbs 98% of the sun’s heat, distributing it globally through currents, which helps regulate the Earth’s climate. The ocean also plays a crucial role in the water cycle; Water evaporates to form clouds that eventually bring rain, replenishing freshwater supplies for all living creatures. 

Finally, the ocean can even improve our health and happiness; Spending time near or in the ocean has proven benefits for mental and physical health, including reducing stress and enhancing overall well-being.

Taking Action on World Ocean Day

Despite the significant damage already done, there is still hope. Efforts to protect the ocean and promote marine conservation are increasing globally. Here are some ways you can contribute as an ocean-loving individual:

  1. Social Media Awareness: Use your social media platforms to spread awareness about World Ocean Day. Encourage your followers to take action and share information about ocean conservation.
  2. Beach Clean-ups: Participate in or organize beach clean-up events. Removing litter from beaches and underwater environments helps protect marine life from pollution.
  3. Donate: Consider donating to ocean conservation organizations. Your contributions support essential research and conservation projects.
  4. Sustainable Seafood Choices: While a vegan diet has the lowest environmental impact, it is not practical for everyone to stop eating fish. Choose sustainably sourced seafood, avoid species that are overfished, and support local fisheries that use environmentally friendly practices.
  5. Adopt Eco-friendly Habits: Small lifestyle changes can significantly impact ocean health. Reduce single-use plastics, shop at refill stores, choose ocean-friendly cleaning products, conserve water and energy, and always carry reusable cups and bags.

SSI Environmental Programs

Here at SSI, we believe that the more you understand our oceans, the better you can help them. We are passionate about the world’s oceans and love to encourage others to keep them clean and healthy. SSI has a range of ecology programs for ocean lovers of all ages to learn and appreciate various marine species that we need to protect. 

Here are the SSI ecology programs to choose from:

SSI Marine Ecology DiverIn the SSI Marine Ecology specialty program, you will explore the interactions between ocean organisms and their environments. The course will cover how energy moves through marine communities and the connections between various ocean ecosystems.

SSI Shark Ecology Diver: In the SSI Shark Ecology program, you will learn to interpret shark behaviors, understand why they are often misunderstood, and master the skills needed to dive with them. This course is ideal for shark enthusiasts and divers who are apprehensive about sharks but want to conquer their fear. Upon completing the program, you will earn your SSI Shark Ecology Specialty certification and likely become a passionate shark diver.

GET INSPIRED: Best places to swim with manta rays.

SSI Manta & Ray Ecology Diver: Enroll in the SSI Manta and Ray Ecology specialty program to learn how to dive with rays and identify various ray species. You will gain insights into the vital role rays play in maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems and understand why protecting these remarkable creatures is essential.

SSI Fish Identification Diver: The world’s oceans host thousands of fish species, and you will encounter many of these fascinating creatures on your dives! In this course, you will learn the essential skills and concepts needed to identify common families of reef fish from the Caribbean, Indo-Pacific, and Red Sea. Upon completion, you will earn your SSI Fish Identification specialty certification.

SSI Coral Identification Diver: Coral reefs are highly cherished by divers, and for good reason; gliding over a vibrant reef teeming with marine life is truly enchanting. These valuable ecosystems are captivating, and the SSI Coral Identification specialty program is the perfect way to deepen your understanding of coral reefs and enhance your reef diving experiences.

RELATED:  Great Barrier Reef Foundation Brings Hope for World’s Reefs

SSI Sea Turtle Ecology Diver: Encountering sea turtles on a dive is an incredible experience, and you will be even more eager to swim with sea turtles after completing the SSI Sea Turtle Ecology Specialty program! This program equips you with the skills and knowledge to recognize and identify common sea turtle species. You will learn about the fascinating history of sea turtles, their crucial role in marine ecosystems, and the threats they face. Upon completion, you will earn the SSI Sea Turtle Ecology Specialty certification.

SSI Marine Mammal Ecology Diver: Immerse yourself in the world of whales, dolphins, and seals to explore this incredibly diverse group of marine animals. In this program, you will learn what sets marine mammals apart from land mammals, discover their habitats, delve into their physiology, and identify various species. Additionally, you will gain insights into marine mammal conservation, providing you with valuable knowledge to help protect our oceans.

SSI Marine Invertebrates Ecology Diver: Discover the wonders of marine invertebrates with our new SSI ecology specialty—Marine Invertebrate Ecology. This fascinating program covers topics such as invertebrate evolution and the ecology of various invertebrates, including nematodes, sponges, jellyfish, sea stars, nudibranchs, and squids. You will explore the relationships between humans and marine invertebrates and their impact on coral reefs. This course aims to raise environmental awareness, particularly in the underwater world.

World Ocean Day is a vital opportunity to recognize the importance of the ocean and the urgent need to protect it. By understanding the origins of this day, appreciating the ocean’s contributions to our planet, and recognizing the threats it faces, we can all take meaningful steps to support ocean conservation.

What will you do to help protect our ocean for future generations?

Get started by signing up for an SSI Environmental Program here: