June is National Ocean Month, and it is my favourite time of year because marine scientists and ocean lovers alike unite to spotlight this amazing habitat that covers over 70% of our planet! This year’s ocean celebrations are especially important because it is the start of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which runs from 2021 to 2030 and aims to ‘strengthen international cooperation to develop the scientific research and innovative technologies that can connect ocean science with the needs of society.’
WHY DO OUR OCEANS MATTER?
Known lovingly as the ‘lungs of our planet’ with every breath we take, every drop we drink, we are connected to our oceans.
LIKE BREATHING? YOU’LL LOVE THE OCEANS
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), at least half of Earth's oxygen comes from the ocean (anywhere from 50-80%)! Yup, even more than the Amazon. This is because the ocean is home to trillions of photosynthetic plankton that produce this oxygen.
SOURCE OF FOOD
A recent scientific paper written for the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy predicts that with proper sustainable seafood management, our ocean could provide six times more food than it does today and furnish two-thirds of the animal protein required to feed the global population of 2050. Currently 1 out of every 5 people rely on fish as a source of essential micronutrients (e.g. zinc, vitamin A and fatty acids) in addition to relying on seafood as a critical source of protein.
HOW YOUR SHOPPING AND THE OCEANS ARE CONNECTED
The main transport mode for global trade is shipping it across our oceans: around 90% of traded goods are carried over the waves. That means globalization relies upon marine transport!
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS
Our oceans play a major role in helping achieve sustainable development, economic growth and improved livelihoods! From fishing jobs to recreational jobs, it brings in billions of dollars. In fact, according to NOAA, the USA ocean economy produces $282 billion in goods and services and ocean-dependent businesses employ almost three million people.
COMBATS CLIMATE CHANGE
This paper from Nature says it best: “The ocean's potential to mitigate climate change is also often overlooked. Protecting and restoring ocean habitats such as seagrasses, salt marshes and mangroves, as well as their associated food webs, can sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at rates up to four times higher than terrestrial forests can.”
GOOD FOR YOUR MIND
I’ve always joked with friends that when I want a “hard reset,” I just go to the beach for at least 45 minutes and I’m good to go. You might think of it as ludicrous but studies show that the sound of the crashing waves or even just looking at the shore can help you feel calmer.
“The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat.”- Jacques Yves Cousteau
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOU DURING THIS MONTH?
Well, I’ll still be working aboard OceanX helping scientists do research to unlock the mysteries surrounding certain charismatic animals! I am super excited to explore our ocean like I never have before and share that content on my social media (like Twitter and Instagram).
Throughout the month, I will also bring you fun ocean facts, share impactful stories of current global marine research, and give you action opportunities to help our waters! Each week you can look forward to:
Who is excited for this month?! Shell yeah!
Psst: don’t forget to come back here for World Oceans Day (June 8) for my blog post “Easy Ways To Help Fix Our Oceans.” World Oceans Day is a great reminder to everyone of the major role our oceans have in everyday life!
Hi! I'm Melissa, an Australian-based Latina science educator, podcaster, and freelance writer. I spend a lot more time on Instagram and Twitter, but blogging is my first love. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you stay a while.
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