There’s something majestic about the deep blue sea that’s captured the human imagination for millennia. Its vast, mysterious nature once led us to believe in legends such as mermaids, sea serpents and the lost city of Atlantis. Though we’ve debunked these myths with modern science, much remains unknown about the world’s oceans to this day.
One thing is for certain, however: the ocean is vital to our existence. It covers over three quarters of the earth’s surface and holds 97% of our planet’s water. Marine plants provide at least 50% of the oxygen we need to breathe, no matter how far inland we are. The ocean is a climate regulator, sending currents around the world and balancing the carbon cycle. Its waters are home to hundreds of thousands of known species, from the smallest bacteria to the largest whales, with many more waiting to be discovered. Natural wonders aside, it’s one of the world’s most significant economic assets, estimated to be worth $24 trillion.
Humanity has long held the belief that because the ocean is so vast, we can do it no harm. But science and history have told us something else. Here are a few tips you can use to help keep our oceans healthy:
1. Use fewer plastic products
Each year, more than 100 million marine animals are killed by even the smallest plastic particles. Lessen your impact by carrying a reusable water bottle, taking your own shopping bags into stores and reducing, reusing and recycling as often as possible.
2. Take care of the beach
Many of us spend our free time out on the sand and in the water. Explore and appreciate the ocean without removing wildlife, rocks or shells. Pay extra attention to what you bring to the beach and remember to take it home with you, trash and all!
3. Hit the water responsibly
Be respectful when boating, kayaking, surfing or practicing other aquatic activities. Abide by speed limits and steer clear of restricted areas.
4. Choose safe, sustainable seafood
Overfishing has led to the rapid depletion of certain fish populations. Download the Seafood Watch app to see what’s sustainable and what to avoid.
5. Educate yourself and those around you
The more you learn about the ocean, the better suited you are to address the challenges it faces. Consider visiting the Zoo and other educational institutions, reading articles or books about the ocean, or following conservation organizations on social media.