On June 8th the world will recognise the 17th annual World Oceans Day, a day to celebrate the ocean, its importance in our lives and how each of us can protect it. It’s a pretty dire time for Mother Earth and her seas. Climate change is increasing the temperatures of the water, toxic waste is making its way into the oceans and marine life are ingesting the millions of tons of plastic waste that humans generate every year.
We’ve somehow managed to neglect the one thing that provides us with 70% of the oxygen we breathe.
I won’t go on to list the copious amounts of other threats our oceans are facing. Instead, I will highlight some organisations that are helping to conserve the world’s oceans, so that we don’t bring ourselves and the rest of the world’s species to the point of extinction.
A Perfect Foundation
A Perfect Foundation is using surfing to make a sustainable difference to the oceans and to local communities who rely on the ocean for survival. The foundation’s main aim is to empower local communities in remote surf regions and educate them on the importance of ocean conservation. They achieve this through initiatives such as waste management programs, an important drive in remote regions such as the Mentawai Islands, Indonesia.
Save The Beach Maldives
Save the Beach Maldives started in 2008 as a youth movement in the Maldives’ island of Vilingili, to conserve the beaches there. In recent years, a new threat has tormented the Maldives’ ecosystems – climate change. Since 2014 coral bleaching has severely affected between 60 percent and 90 percent the Maldives’ reefs. Save the Beach Maldives have erected coral nurseries in the local reefs, with the aim to revive the coral populations here. They work tirelessly to educate and conserve the oceans of this paradise.
Project Seahorse works in collaboration with governments, local communities, and other stakeholders to ensure the world’s marine ecosystems are protected. They specialise in the recovery of seahorse populations and habitats around the world. Seahorses are a particularly vulnerable species because only the male becomes pregnant and some species are seasonally monogamous. They are important predators on bottom-dwelling organisms; removing them could disrupt coastal ecosystems.
Trash Hero is literally cleaning up our planet. This worldwide community of eco-warriors spans across Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore, but also extends into Europe, Africa and the USA. In Thailand alone, there are 25 local groups who run regular beach cleanups in their specified region. I had the privilege of joining a beach clean up in Koh Phangan while I was there and saw first hand the commitment that all of these volunteers have when it comes to cleaning up our oceans.
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Eau-Dacité is a community-based organization in Montréal with a gender-based focus. Their mission is to promote waterway literacy and conservation through unconventional and innovative projects, programs and events. Being that Montréal is the most populous river island in the world and that the city is surrounded by water, Eau-Dacité seeks to inspire and mobilize civil society to seek greater access to blue public spaces and to understand the condition of the environment in order to better design solutions to improve the environmental condition of our watershed.
Manta Trust Mission
The main goal of the Manta Trust Mission is “To see all species of manta rays and their relatives protected or effectively managed for sustainable / non-consumptive use by the people closest to them, in a means that promotes wider ocean conservation.” They achieve this through scientific research, education and worldwide collaboration. View their impact here.
Fight for the Bight
In 2011, the Australian Federal Government started releasing new, offshore oil and petroleum exploration licences in the Commonwealth waters of the Great Australian Bight. This stretch of ocean is one of the most pristine ocean environments left on Earth, supporting vibrant coastal communities, jobs and recreational activities. Fight for the Bight is an alliance to protect these oceans from oil drilling. The risk of an oil spill is too large and could have irreversible, catastrophic implications. Take action and #FightForTheBight here.
Oliver Ridley Project
The Oliver Ridley Project specialises in removing ghost nets from the world’s oceans to protect sea turtles and other marine life. The sea turtle plays an important role in the ocean’s ecosystems. Some of their roles include irrigating seagrass beds – which decreases erosion, feeding on jellyfish and providing habitat for barnacles and other small crustaceans. Between July 2013 and December 2018, The Oliver Ridley Project physically removed 1400 ghost nets from the Indian Ocean.
Every year, Reef Check trains thousands of citizen scientist divers who volunteer to survey the health of coral reefs around the world and rocky reef ecosystems along the entire coast of California. Since the first Reef Check coral reef monitoring survey in 1997, over 10,000 surveys have been completed by Reef Check EcoDivers in over 95 countries and territories.
Sea Shepard Global
Sea Shepard Global is one of the largest and most famous marine conservation organisations in the world. Their impact spreads across the globe as they work to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans. The volunteer-led organisation uses direct tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities.
Billion Oyster Project
The Billion Oyster Project aims to restore oyster reefs to New York Harbor through public education initiatives. This unlikely cause is important to the oceans because oysters have a remarkable ability to filter nitrogen pollution from water as they eat. Excessive nitrogen triggers algal blooms that deplete the water of oxygen and create bodies of water where other marine life can’t survive. Find out more about the Billion Oyster Project’s work here.
This ocean conservation organisation is helping to solve the ocean’s plastic calamity. You’ve more than likely seen their bracelets on social media – each bracelet sold funds the removal of one pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines. The bracelets themselves are even made from recycled materials. Since 2017, 4ocean employees have been able to remove 4,553,666 pounds of trash from the ocean. Purchase a bracelet here.