June 8 is World Ocean Day! The UN officially recognized World Ocean Day in 2008 to cultivate public interest in the protection of our oceans. I hope you celebrate by spending some time near the ocean and by learning more about the importance of the ocean and what we can do to preserve it – we have some ideas for you to get started below!
The ocean is intertwined with the way of life in Florida. Locally, we enjoy it for recreation – beach days with the family, fishing, or just enjoying the views. The ocean also supports our economy through tourism and fisheries. On a worldwide scale, ocean life produces over half of the oxygen we breathe, and ocean currents regulate the global climate by absorbing energy and transferring warm and cool water around the planet.
How can I help protect the ocean?
The ocean relies on us to keep it healthy so it can continue to support us and an abundance of wildlife. We can all make an effort to reduce our reliance on single-use plastic, which is one of the main sources of ocean pollution. Remember to bring your reusable water bottle and shopping bags with you whenever you head out for the day. If you tend to eat out, bring a reusable container for your leftovers. Be aware of your day-to-day plastic use, see if there are choices you can make to avoid some of it, and support restaurants and companies that are making these choices easier for you!
Not all pollution comes in the form of “trash” – another source of pollution in our waterways is from excess nutrients, which lead to algae blooms. We can reduce excess nutrients by avoiding the use of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers on our lawns, especially during the summer months when the heavy rains wash most of these nutrients into our lakes, rivers, and eventually the ocean. Volusia County has an ordinance prohibiting the application of fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorous from June 1-September 30, but no matter the county you call home, you can adopt these measures to help protect your local watershed.
Another way that you can help the ocean is to educate yourself and share that knowledge with your friends, family, and neighbors! The Florida Sea Grant and UF/IFAS Extension Flagler and Volusia Counties are pleased to present several opportunities for residents of all ages to learn more about our coastal and marine ecosystems this summer.
Marine Science Summer Series in Flagler County
UF/IFAS Extension Flagler County and Florida Sea Grant will be hosting a Marine Science Summer Series within the Flagler County Parks system. These are free programs open to the public and will held the third Tuesday of the month from 9-10 am.
The series will start off on June 21 at Bay Drive Park with Turtle Talk. Join us to learn about the species of sea turtles that nest and hatch on our local beaches, discover the challenges they must overcome to reach adulthood, and learn what we can do to make sure sea turtles continue to visit our beaches for years to come.
On July 19 we will meet at the River to Sea Preserve pavilion for Creatures on the Beach to learn about the smaller invertebrates that call our oceans and beaches home and to identify some of the mysterious natural artifacts you may have found washed up on the beach.
We will wrap up the summer series on August 16 at Princess Place Preserve with The Importance of Estuaries. This is a unique location in the world, as it is one of the few places home to both salt marsh and mangroves. We will learn about the ecology our coastal wetlands, including species you can find here, their importance to both humans and animals, and how we can help preserve them.
Summer Learning Opportunities in Volusia County
The national summer 2022 reading theme is Ocean of Possibilities, so dive in and join me at one of the Volusia County Public Library events this summer, which parallel several of the topics covered in the marine science summer series above:
Friday, June 17 from 12-1pm at the DeLand Library: Turtle Talk
Wednesday, July 20 from 2-3 pm at the Ormond Beach Library: Creatures on the Beach
There will also be a Volusia County 4-H marine science summer camp on July 28 and 29 from 8:30-11:30 am at Spruce Creek Park, open to ages 11-13. Students who enjoy spending time outside and learning about our coastal ecosystems will love this two-day estuary exploration, where we will learn about our mangroves, marshes, and all the organisms that call them home! Additional information on the camp can be accessed through the registration page.
Although June 8 is World Ocean Day, you can continue to celebrate by learning and exploring all summer! The marine science summer series and library series are open to both adults and children. Registration is not required, but if you have any questions please contact Carolyn Kovacs, UF/IFAS Sea Grant Extension Agent via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling either the Flagler County Extension Office at 386-437-7464 or Volusia County Extension Office at 386-822-5778.