Connecting to the Coast

Don’t live by a beach? Never been scuba diving or surfing? Don’t worry, everyone can play an important role in protecting the ocean– on World Oceans Day and every day! Whether we live on the coast or miles away from the sea, we are all connected to the ocean and can take action to positively impact ocean health.

Your actions can have big impacts downstream

Regardless of where we live, the ocean provides us with seafood and oxygen for us to breathe. It also takes up carbon dioxide from our energy use and drives the global climate. Even when we live far from the ocean, our garbage can end up in the ocean. Chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers can be carried by wind or water and flow off our lawns and agricultural fields into streams, which empty into rivers, and eventually reach the ocean. The good news is we can all help to have a positive impact on ocean health -- encourage your community take action for a healthier ocean and a healthier planet.

This year celebrate World Oceans Day wherever you live by planning a community event!

1. Host a river watershed cleanup

River shoreline cleanups prevent trash from ever reaching the ocean! Trash Free Potomac Network in the US organizes volunteers and organizations to keep the Potomac River watershed (that feeds into Chesapeake Bay) free of trash and pollution. Their events have included trash clean ups at dozens of sites along the river.

Above: The Butterfly House and Marine Cove

2. Make it a competition

Provide an incentive for protecting the ocean. This could be an art or photography competition and exhibit. Another option is a scavenger hunt around town or a zoo, like the Oklahoma City Zoo organized for World Oceans Day 2015. You could also organize a walk or run for the ocean like All One Ocean in California. Or host a quiz competition for schools and colleges like the National Centre for Maritime Policy Research in Pakistan. Learn about how to organize pledges and competitions. 

3. Coordinate a presentation about protecting the ocean.

You could bring in speakers or a show a film followed by a discussion. Topics could include personal actions such as recycling or reducing energy to promote ocean health. Explore these resources with important and interesting films about sustainability and the ocean: The 10 best films and documentaries about sustainability or TED talks about the ocean.

4. Organize a workshop to engage youth.

The lesson could be about ocean science and how we affect and depend upon the ocean. This workshop could be used in the classroom or at a station at a zoo or aquarium and could incorporate crafts! Ocean education resources are available from EMSEA, The Bridge, NOAA and the National Geographic. Reach out to local NGOs, government agencies, or universities for possible speakers. You may be surprised at some of the amazing human resources in your community who would love to be asked to help.

And for young audiences, books and movies like All the Way to the Ocean can help make the connections!

5. Hold a cooking demo

Teach your community about how to chose sustainable seafood.  You could also serve sustainable seafood at your event,  like the Henson Robinson Zoo in Illinois did for World Oceans Day last year. You can learn more about what seafood is sustainable with Seafood Watch.

6. Organize a campaign

Encourage others to take personal pledges to reuse, recycle plastics, and save energy or any other idea you have! Learn about  the “Better Bag Challenge” to reduce the waste of plastic bags and the Selfie for the Sea campaign to practice sustainable actions.

7. Work with your community

Team up with local environmental groups, schools or businesses to organize your presentation or campaign. Find an environmental group near you and help them focus on the ocean in June each year.

Need more ideas? Check our posts for Inland Teachers and Zoos and Aquariums.

Don’t forget to  submit your event to the World Oceans Day map!

Lena Champlin 29-Mar-2016