Ever since the United Nations declared June 8th to be World Ocean’s Day in 2002, people and groups from around the world have used the occasion to celebrate the ocean and take steps to protect it. Now, with the ocean facing more threats than ever, it’s time for all of us to come together to protect our treasured marine environment.
Facts about our oceans
Oceans cover over 70 percent of the planet, host up to 80 percent of life on earth and account for 96 percent of all water.
The ocean produces at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen, it is home to most of the earth’s biodiversity and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world.
Oceans absorb around 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.
The ocean is home to nearly 95% of all life.
Oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 2.6 billion people depending on the oceans as their primary source of protein.
The ocean is key to our economy with an estimated 40 million people being employed by ocean-based industries by 2030.
As much as 40 per cent of the world’s oceans are heavily affected by human activities like pollution, depleted fisheries, and loss of coastal habitats
80% of global marine pollution comes from agriculture runoff, untreated sewage, and discharge of nutrients and pesticides. These nutrients cause algal blooms to flourish and dissolve the water’s oxygen levels.
These harmful algal-based blooms have tripled since 1984, closing beaches and killing fish.
With 90% of big fish populations depleted, and 50% of coral reefs destroyed, we are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished.
An ocean of plastic
Every minute, one garbage truck worth of plastic is dumped into the ocean. Yearly, a colossal 1.4 billion tons of trash ends up in our beautiful oceans. Of this waste, an estimated 8 million tons is plastic.
There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic waste estimated to be in our oceans.
269,000 tons float, and 4 billion microfibers per km² dwell below the surface.
70% of our debris sinks into the ocean’s ecosystem, 15% floats, and 15% lands on our beaches.
Where Does All the Trash Go?
Once the trash reaches the ocean, where does it all go? You may be at the beach and not see any trash around you and wonder how there can be over 5.25 trillion pieces and counting. One of the main places our trash travels to is The North Pacific Ocean Gyre, or as most people know it, the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch. An ocean gyre is defined as a system of circular ocean currents formed by the Earth’s wind patterns and the forces created by the rotation of the planet. Despite its name, there is nothing great about this swirling mass of trash that is four times the size of Texas. This ocean gyre has become so filled with trash, that it is visible from space.
The Great Pacific Patch has the strongest currents of all the five ocean gyres and is located between the Hawaiian Islands and California. Unfortunately, most of the trash from around the world travels here through currents and gets sucked into the swirling mass where it remains until it can decompose in time. And the most commonly found trash in this swirling vortex? You guessed it – plastic.
The ocean is in need of support
The ocean connects, sustains, and supports us all. Yet its health is at a tipping point and so is the well-being of all that depends on it. As the past years have shown us, we need to work together to create a new balance with the ocean that no longer depletes its bounty but instead restores its vibrancy and brings it new life.
World Ocean’s Day 2022
This year’s United Nations World Oceans Day, on 8 June 2022, will highlight the theme Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean.
Everyone has a part to play in saving our oceans.
Ditch plastic now
Here are 5 simple ways you can ditch plastic now
Break up with bottled water – say goodbye to single-use plastic bottles by using a reusable bottle
Shop with reusable bags – 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags each year. Switch to reusables to reduce your overall waste and keep sea life from harm.
Skip the straw – do without or if you like having something to sip with, use a glass, bamboo, metal or other types of reusable straw.
Recycle everything! – reuse, compost, or donate.
Choose seasonal and local – avoid prepackaged food by checking out local shops and markets.
If we don’t act now, by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
Sources: WorldStrides/4Ocean/World Ocean’s Day