Every year on June 8 World Oceans Day is celebrated internationally. The day is meant to commemorate how important oceans are for the Earth, as sources of oxygen and food, and regulation of the climate, and raise awareness of how crucial it is for the planet that we conserve it. The Ocean Project is in charge of coordinating worldwide events to observe World Oceans Day.
A proposal for a day to celebrate the ocean was first introduced in 1992 by the Canadian government during the United Nations Earth Summit in Brazil. The purpose of having an international observance was to raise awareness of the dangers that the oceans face.
There are probably millions of species whose natural habitat is the ocean, threatened by overfishing and pollution, meaning that some could be in danger of extinction. It is also essential for human life that oceans are protected, as they are the main source of oxygen on the planet.
The Ocean Project has been organizing World Oceans Day since 2002. It was in 2008 that the United Nations officially recognized and created World Oceans Day, in an effort to raise international awareness. The day has been an annual observance ever since, and the number of countries participating grows yearly.
The theme of World Ocean Day
Since 2009, there has been an annual theme for World Oceans Day. Recent themes have included:
- 2019: Gender and Oceans
- 2020: Innovation for a sustainable ocean
- 2021: The Ocean: Life & Livelihoods
Most recently in 2022, the theme was: Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean. In 2023 the theme will be: Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing.
The oceans around us
There are five oceans on Earth. They are:
- The Pacific Ocean - Stretching between the Americas and Japan, the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south.
- Atlantic Ocean - Lying between the Americas to the west and Europe and Africa to the east.
- Indian Ocean - Lying between Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Indian Ocean islands.
- Southern Ocean - Also known as the Antarctic Ocean, encircling Antarctica.
- The Arctic Ocean - Is located around the North Pole.
These oceans make up a vast amount of our planetary surface, they are vast, powerful, and still boast much to be discovered:
- The largest ocean on Earth is the Pacific Ocean, which covers an area of about 63.8 million square miles (165.25 million square kilometers) and makes up about one-third of the Earth's surface.
- The smallest ocean on Earth is the Arctic Ocean, which covers an area of about 5.4 million square miles (14.05 million square kilometers). It is also the shallowest ocean, with an average depth of only 3,407 feet (1,038 meters).
- The newest ocean is the Southern Ocean, which was only recognized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as an ocean in 1999. It has taken longer for international organizations and bodies to build a consensus on the subject and start altering maps and official information to reflect this change.
How to Celebrate World Oceans Day
One of the best and easiest actions to take during World Oceans Day is to organize or participate in a beach clean-up initiative. One of the biggest current threats to the ocean is the amount of plastic disposed of everywhere, including the litter people leave on the beach. It is estimated that 13 million tons of plastic go into the ocean yearly, killing 100 thousand marine life.
Many places such as aquariums, zoos, and conservation programs host special events during World Oceans Day where everyone can participate and get educated about how important the ocean is for the environment.
There is also a UN initiative that calls for all amateur photographers around the world to take part in a competition called World Oceans Day Oceanic Photo Competition.