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Happy World Oceans Day 2021

Blue ocean, apparently seen from the rear of a boat, under a blue sky, to celebrate World Oceans Day.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Cindy Chai wrote from the North Pacific Ocean: “Smell the sea and feel the sky!” Thank you, Cindy.

Happy World Oceans Day 2021!

World Oceans Day has been celebrated every year on June 8 since 1992. It’s a day to raise awareness about how we’re connected to the oceans – no matter where we live on Earth – and what we can do to protect ocean habitats. This year’s theme – announced by United Nations World Oceans Day 2021 – is The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods. The day is meant to shed light on the wonder of the ocean and how it’s our life source, supporting humanity and every other organism on Earth. Go here to participate in today’s fully virtual World Oceans Day celebration. Events happen all day. Here’s a calendar of additional events around the world.

Why Earth’s oceans are so important

Earth’s oceans are critical to human survival. More than half the oxygen in our atmosphere is generated via photosynthesis by phytoplankton and seaweed in oceans. Millions of people depend on fish and other marine animals for food. Research in some marine organisms have led to the development of new medications. Earth’s climate is regulated by ocean currents known as global conveyor belts.

Perhaps the best reason we’ve seen to celebrate and protect Earth’s oceans comes from the 2013 video below, featuring Sylvia Earle, who is a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence and perhaps the world’s most recognized living oceanographer. In the video, among other things, Earle says:

I think of the ocean as the blue heart of the planet.

And she says:

We, too, are sea creatures.

History of World Oceans Day

Canada made the original proposal for World Oceans Day in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The day was unofficially celebrated on June 8 until 2008, when the United Nations officially recognized it. Since then, The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network have coordinated World Oceans Day internationally. These organizations say they have had greater success and global participation each year.

We know that human activities have adversely affected the health of oceans: pollution, over-fishing, seawater acidification due to increased carbon dioxide, ocean warming and habitat destruction. There is so much to do to repair the damage.

What can you do to help?

There are things you can do on your own, on this day or any other. If you live near an ocean, perhaps join a shoreline cleanup (with appropriate social distancing during this time of pandemic).

Even if you’re not near the sea, you can encourage your seafood retailers and favorite seafood restaurants to source their seafood more sustainably (Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program is a terrific resource).

And we can all reduce our use of plastics with reusable shopping bags and refillable water bottles, and by using biodegradable products over plastic.

Pacific Ocean seen from orbit, with some clouds, the Earth's terminator visible in half the image, sun above glinting off the sea.
The Pacific Ocean, viewed from the International Space Station. Image via NASA.

Longing for the sea? Check out these photos from the EarthSky community.

Bottom line: June 8 is World Oceans Day. 2021’s theme is The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods.

June 8, 2021

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