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sunset over the Gulf of Mexico

World Oceans Day: Celebrate by giving back

Today is World Oceans Days, and as a marine biologist, a surfer, a fisher, a coastal resident, and a scuba diver, the ocean is extremely important to me. I love the ocean and all its creatures. And, no matter how I or anyone else feel’s about it, we depend on the ocean.

The ocean provides critical and countless benefits to our planet and all its inhabitants, including*:

  • The air we breathe, More than half of the world’s oxygen is produced in the ocean, and it stores 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere.
  • Climate regulation. Given its vast surface area—about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface—the ocean transports heat from the equator to the poles, regulating our climate and weather patterns.
  • Food. The ocean provides more than seafood, it provides ingredients used in other foods such as peanut butter, ice cream, almond milk, and many more.
  • Recreation. From beachgoers to boating to fishing to scuba divers to surfers, the list is long.
  • Economy. Ocean activities account for $282 billion in U.S. annual economic impacts, and ocean-dependent businesses employ almost 3 million people.
  • Medicine. Many medical products come from the ocean, including ingredients that help fight diseases such as cancer, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s. And many more ingredients and products from the ocean are being researched today.
  • Transportation. Some 76 percent of all U.S. trade involves some form of marine transportation.

Unfortunately, some of our actions are harming the ocean and its creatures. World Oceans Day was created, in fact, to inform the public of those impacts, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans**.

One of those negative impacts is pollution, especially plastic pollution. But, there are many good things that you can do to help the ocean with this issue, from eliminating the use of single-use plastic products to participating in beach cleanups.

a young girl picks up plastic trash along a Sarasota County beach

A young girl picks up plastic trash along a Sarasota County beach. [CREDIT: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County]

On World Oceans Day, around the globe, thousands of volunteers typically join cleanups conducting cleanups to celebrate. Unfortunately, due to our current situation with COVID-19, a lot of those events are not happening. But, you can still conduct your own cleanup. And not just today, but every day, around your house, at the beach, or at a local park.

I invite you to join me in celebrating World Oceans Day by conducting your own cleanup. The instructions are simple:

  • Follow your local safety regulations/guidelines regarding COVID-19, and
  • Take a picture of yourself while cleaning, and post it to social media, tagging us at #ufsarasotaext.

Let’s do this for a whole week (June 8-14) to say thank you to our ocean and to show that we care. And those that submit a picture with our #ufsarasotaext tag will be entered into a raffle where you can win a copy of “Tackle Box Guide to Common Saltwater Fish of Southwest Florida” and pack of six reusable metal straws.

Thank you again for caring and participating.

We need the ocean. And, the ocean needs you.

RESOURCES

* oceanservice.noaa.gov
** United Nations

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