Posts Tagged 'Ocean Conservation'

This World Oceans Day, Let’s Celebrate How Water Connects Us All

world oceans day

On June 8, organizations and communities from around the world will join to celebrate the Earth’s largest life-support system, the ocean. World Oceans Day, first celebrated in 2002, was established to help educate others on how much of an impact the ocean has on our lives and what we need to do to protect it!

Why we should celebrate the ocean, by the numbers: 

For 2.6 billion people, the ocean is their primary source of protein.

For 3 billion people, the ocean is their livelihood.

For all of us, the ocean absorbs more than 30 percent of carbon dioxide produced by humans, slowing climate change and allowing us a quality of life that, without the ocean, would not be possible (if we could survive at all).

A recent estimate suggests that there may be as many as 1 million species of non-bacterial life in the world’s waterways YET to be identified.

Though Earth is 70 percent water, an incredible 90 percent of this aquatic real estate has yet to be discovered.

While it’s great for the global community to unify this day in celebration of the ocean, here are five easy ways you can protect this vital resource every day:

  1. Reduce your energy use
    Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels can lead to ocean acidification, which is harmful to ocean life. You can help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide you put into the atmosphere by riding a bike, walking or using public transportation and by turning off the lights when you leave a room.
  2. Use less plastic
    When plastic debris ends up in the ocean, animals can mistake it for food and eat it by accident, causing animals to choke or clogging their digestive systems. You can prevent this by limiting plastic use and always disposing of trash properly. Choose reusable items such as cloth grocery bags or refillable water bottles.
  3. Cut apart six-pack rings
    The plastic rings used for soda containers can pose a threat to marine life. Creatures can get caught in the rings and sometimes are unable to free themselves. You can help save these animals by cutting apart the rings before throwing them in the trash.
  4. Conserve water
    Reducing your water use can minimize wastewater runoff into the ocean, preventing chemicals and other contaminants from damaging marine habitats. You can conserve water by taking quicker showers and turning off the water when brushing your teeth.
  5. Eat sustainable seafood
    Overfishing can lead to an irreparable loss in certain seafood populations. To prevent this, avoid catching or eating certain species that have been exploited, such as bluefin tuna and Chilean seabass. Visit for more sustainable seafood recommendations!

A Blue View: Understanding Ocean Acidification

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 pm as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

May 29, 2013: Understanding Ocean Acidification

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John discuss how the changing
global climate is impacting on our oceans.

Say you visit the same spot on the same ocean every year. You take a swim, and it feels pretty much like the last time. The temperature doesn’t seem all that different. You certainly can’t tell that the pH is changing.

Yet just as the global climate is changing, so too is the ocean’s chemistry. Alongside atmospheric climate change, ocean acidification is one of the most serious issues affecting the waters of our planet and all of its inhabitants.

Ocean acidification has only recently entered the public’s consciousness, though scientists have been studying and predicting the phenomenon for some time. Many estimate that the ocean absorbs approximately 30 percent of human-generated carbon dioxide, which reacts with sea water to form carbonic acid. The resultant decrease in pH means the water becomes more acidic, with disastrous effects on animals that depend on their shells and exoskeletons to survive.

Though the media has taken to calling ocean acidification our “new climate threat,” it is not a new problem. Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide has been increasing in our atmosphere and therefore our seawater. Now, over 200 years later, we can no longer ignore the threat. Even conservative estimates suggest that by 2100, global ocean waters will warm nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit on average and acidity will increase by 150 percent.

So what does this mean for ocean wildlife? Clearly, the sea’s complex food web will be disrupted. Highly mobile animals will be forced to expand their home ranges as they search for more hospitable waters. Sadly, coral reefs as we know them will be forever altered and could even disappear. Animals will struggle to build skeletons and shells in waters that literally dissolve them. And growth and reproductive capabilities of numerous marine animals will be at risk.

Ocean acidification has caused coral bleaching on parts of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo via CS Monitor

Ocean acidification has caused coral bleaching on parts of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo via CS Monitor

The Chesapeake Bay watershed is not immune to these dramatic changes. In fact, according to NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office, the Bay is being affected at a faster rate than the global average because land in this region is already subsiding naturally. Bay temperatures have already increased almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1960 and are projected to increase by an additional 3 to 10 degrees by 2100—a tremendous change that will have a profound effect on the nation’s largest estuary. Increased acidification of the Bay will alter its delicate balance in other ways. For example, according to marine geologist Justin Ries of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, blue crabs could grow larger, while the creatures they eat, including oysters and clams, could suffer from weaker, slower-growing shells. These bivalves, in addition to being an integral part of the food chain, also contribute to healthier water quality by filtering huge quantities of Bay water. The moral: damage one small species and you affect the entire Chesapeake Bay.

We cannot simply undo the impacts of ocean acidification. The carbon dioxide we are putting into the atmosphere today will continue to accumulate for decades. There is hope, however, and as always, it starts with each of us. Reducing our consumption of fossil fuels and minimizing our collective carbon footprint isn’t just the best way forward, it’s the only way. As Fyodor Dostoevsky said in The Brothers Karamazov, “For all is like an ocean. All flows and connects. Touch it in one place and it echoes at the other end of the world.”

A Blue View – Man, Eating Shark

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

November 28: Man, Eating Shark

Listen to John discuss the importance of protecting shark populations around the world from overfishing. 

Can you guess what the following things have in common? Lightning; driving to the beach; dogs; falling coconuts…

Give up?

Each one is more likely to kill you than a shark.

And yet, shark populations in all of our oceans are in danger of collapse, mainly due to overfishing. Commercial and recreational fishing kills up to 73 million sharks every year—including tens of millions solely for their fins. That’s roughly 200,000 sharks every day!

Here’s what you can do to help save sharks: 

  • Just say no to shark fin soup! Don’t patronize restaurants or stores that serve or sell shark products. The Animal Welfare Institute has compiled a database of restaurants that have shark fin soup on the menu. You can also take the Shark Savers pledge to say you’re FINished with fins.
  • Write a letter to your representatives, or sign a petition like this one from our partners at Oceana, asking those with the power to change and enact laws to do so.
  • If you’re a Maryland resident, support the bill that will be introduced in Maryland’s next legislative session that would ban the possession or distribution of shark fins in the state. This legislation will ensure that Maryland is not contributing to the supply and demand of shark fins.
  • Avoid eating seafood that is caught in a way that brings in sharks as bycatch. Download Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch card for a list of ocean-friendly seafood and what to avoid.
  • Spread the word. Share this information with your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top of this page. The more awareness we can generate about this issue, the better.

Stay tuned next week for our next A Blue View series! 

Thoughtful Thursdays: 2012 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit

From National Aquarium education specialist, Maria Madero:

On a cold November morning, four Aquarium on Wheels (AOW) students, De’Quan, Asia, Paul, and Dana met Aquarium staff supervisors, Nancy, Maria, and Jeremyat BWI airport to begin their weekend adventure at the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit at the MOTE Marine Lab in Sarasota, FL. From the moment we stepped into the airport, there was an air of excitement. For some of our AOW students this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. In fact, it was Asia’s first time flying! Once up in the air, she was glued to the window, amazed at the sights below just as the rest of the students.

On the way to Tampa!

We flew into Tampa and had a gorgeous coast line drive to Sarasota, FL (filled with many sing-a-longs).  The summit began that evening with a Community Ocean Conservation Film Festival featuring the short film, This is your Ocean: Sharks by Jim Abernethy and George Schellenger! The festival also featured student produced ocean conservation short films showcasing how youth of all ages are taking action to protect our marine environment.

The festival inspired our AOW students greatly. They want to continue the mission set forth by Jim Abernethy by creating their own video!

Exploring the beautiful Sarasota beach

On Saturday, our group attended the full day summit at MOTE Marine Lab. We learned how the youth of Florida are making a difference in their community and beyond. Our AOW students were inspired by the personal stories of successful action plans and could not wait to make their own! Thankfully, our next session was all about action planning. We had time to brainstorm ideas and come up with an action plan that we could take back to our community and make a difference! Our group hopes to focus on a Chesapeake Bay-related issue, such as overfishing and harvesting, for the play they’ll be performing  at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. They will also be creating a film that highlights this issue in hopes to spread the word even farther than Baltimore!

The group after a successful day at the summit

We spent the remainder of the summit in workshop sessions building the foundation and gathering the skills needed in order to implement our action plan. Workshop session topics included fundraising, plastic pollution, public service announcements, conservation through art, branding, and marine debris prevention. This diverse array of topics allowed for our students to develop a broad knowledge base to bring back to others in their program to make their project a success.

On Sunday morning, we had the wonderful opportunity to go kayaking in the mangroves with MOTE Marine Lab educator Brad Tanner. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for our students; they had never seen an environment like this! Not only was the location gorgeous, but we had the rare chance to see and interact with manatees! It was an unforgettable experience.

Paul and De’Quan were amazed to be so close to a manatee!

As a supervisor, getting a chance to see the students you work with on a regular basis have such a great experience is an invaluable thing. This summit inspired our students, who are now brainstorming and excited about implementing their action plans for this year. I could not be more proud of them! The attention, participation and drive of our AOW students as well as Sean has inspired all of us. A huge THANK YOU to Nancy, also known to our students as “Aunt Nancy,” who made this whole trip possible!

For more information on The Youth Ocean Conservation Summit and Sean Russell’s efforts, please visit Sean and our AOW students are proof that everyone, no matter your age, can make a difference!

5 Gyres “Last Straw Plastic Pollution” Bike Tour Events at National Aquarium!

Patches of plastic and trash cover large portions of our blue planet. The largest patch, the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is estimated to cover anywhere from 270,000 to 5,800,000 square miles of ocean. These congregations of pollution exist in all five gyres or large systems of rotating ocean currents. Without immediate action, this plastic pollution will continue to do irreparable damage.

Map of five ocean gyres or large systems of rotating ocean currents

5 gyres, a conservation organization striving to end plastic pollution, is spreading the word about the five main oceanic garbage patches by biking 1,400 miles down the Atlantic coast on their “Last Straw Plastic Pollution” tour.

Tomorrow, the 5 gyres team will be hitting the streets of Baltimore, Maryland  and making a stop at National Aquarium from 5 – 6:30 PM. The team will share photographs from their journey and talk about their research on the impact of plastic pollution and what the community can do to eliminate this crippling harm to local waters and marine life. Click here to RSVP for the Baltimore event! 

As the 5 gyres team continues their Atlantic tour, they will also be making a stop at our Washington, D.C. venue on Tuesday, October 23. Click here to RSVP for the Washington, DC event! 

For additional details on 5 gyres  and these upcoming events, click here.

5 Gyres sails to the most remote regions of our oceans to research plastic density in areas where no one has before, and takes the evidence of home to engage with government, industry and concerned citizens to drive common sense solutions to plastic pollution through policy, education and sustainable business. For more information, visit

Thoughtful Thursday: 10 Ways to Celebrate World Oceans Day

June 8 is World Oceans Day, and we invite you to celebrate with us on Friday, through the weekend and all year round!

On Friday, reef conservationist John Halas, who was the first winner of Oceana’s Ocean Heroes contest, will join National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli to dive in two of the Aquarium’s exhibits. Come to the Aquarium this weekend for oceans of fun activities!

There’s no better place to celebrate World Oceans Day than at the National Aquarium, but if you can’t make it for a visit, don’t worry. There are plenty of other things you can do to celebrate!

10 Ways to Celebrate World Oceans Day (All Year Round!)

Give a bag, get a bag!

  • Recycle or donate your plastic bags.
    Many grocery stores, dog parks and animal shelters have collection points. You can also use them as small trash can liners. And this weekend you can also bring your plastic bags to the National Aquarium to trade in for a fun World Oceans Day reusable one!
  • Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth.
  • Make a pledge to help protect our world’s oceans, then share it with your friends & family! An easy way to share your pledge is with our downloadable Facebook cover photo. Click on the image below to download it!

Share your pledge to help our oceans on your personal social media platforms!

  • Wash your car over a grassy area or take it to a car wash that treats or recycles their water.
  • Nominate someone who has made or is making lasting contributions to ocean conservation for Oceana’s Ocean Heroes program.
    Ocean heroes can be scientists, educators, conservationists or more! Last year’s Junior Hero was an 8-year-old girl named Sophi Bromenshenkel, who raised money for shark conservation through bake sales and lemonade stands! Oceana is accepting nominations through June 20. 

You can find fun & stylist reusable water bottles at some of your favorite places, including the National Aquarium!

  • Use a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic single-use bottles.
  • Walk, bike, carpool or utilize mass transit.
  • Create a Pinterest board sharing inspiring ocean photos, messages and links. Click here to see ours!
  • Make a meal with sustainable seafood. (And please invite us over to join…just kidding!)
  • Join a waterfront cleanup.
    Even if you’re don’t live near a beach, there are still waterfront cleanups to join. Protecting our local streams, rivers and bays is very important, because they all eventually connect to the ocean. Click here to find out about our conservation volunteer opportunities.

Together, we can make a difference. Please help us celebrate World Oceans Day and let us know how you are going to celebrate!

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