World Oceans Day is celebrated every year on the 8th of June, this year the theme is ‘The Ocean: Life & Livelihoods’. For this years post, I have decided to write about how we rely on the ocean and how you can help.

How do we rely on the ocean?

There are a few pretty obvious ways like fishing and recreational activities, but it’s so much more than that.

Supplies 50% of our oxygen – National Geographic

Phytoplankton is the main source of producing oxygen in the ocean. Since they are at the bottom of the food chain, primary consumers eat them and so on. The number is currently going down as our ocean gets warmer which leads to coral bleaching. This is bad news because coral reefs support 25% of ocean creatures.

Some scientists believe that increasing the productivity of phytoplankton would mean that they could absorb more CO2, but others think of it as a quick fix. Personally, I don’t think it is a good idea because if you change one thing in a food chain, the whole web can dramatically change. Ecosystems are very sensitive.

Carbon sink

Since plants produce oxygen, it means that they absorb and store carbon dioxide. As animals eat the photosynthesising plants (such as phytoplankton), they absorb some of the CO2 as well. When they die, they sink to the ocean floor and the hard parts of their bodies gradually decompose into the sea bed. This is a long-term carbon sink. Another ocean carbon sink is one that is manmade.

Medicine

Another way we rely on the ocean is through medication. A lot of medical ingredients originate from oceans, recently I’ve seen a lot of microalgae on ingredient lists. Scientists have barely scratched the surface of medicines that are from ocean plants. Did you know that some cancer-fighting medication is from coral reef flora and fauna?

Climate regulation

Oceans have a key role in regulating the climate of the entire planet. Through currents like the thermohaline circulation and the Atlantic conveyor belt, cold water at the poles is transferred to the equator and vice versa. Without these flows, we would have much more extreme weather.

Major part of the water cycle

The ocean accounts for 70% of the planet so obviously, it is a major part of the water cycle. The water cycle is one of the most important cycles, so we rely on the ocean greatly for that. When precipitation falls, it might run off mountains but it does end up in rivers or streams which connect the ocean. The sun heats up the ocean and evaporates some of the water into the troposphere. In the troposphere, the temperature changes and so the evaporated water turns to steam making droplets that fall as precipitation.

Food

Fish is a major source of protein for a lot of the human population but it isn’t just fish that we eat from the ocean. We also eat seaweed and other ocean plants which are becoming a lot more popular, especially in Japan with sushi. I’m yet to try seaweed but I’ve heard great things, sushi isn’t for me though!

Studies

Lastly, the ocean is very important for studying. I’ve always enjoyed learning about the ocean, probably part of the reason I love environmental science so much. We rely on the ocean to be healthy so that we can learn from it and how it supports sea creatures. We need to know how to keep it happy and healthy!

What can you do to help?

Educate yourself

If reading isn’t your style, there are hundreds of documentaries out there. To name a few, there’s Our Planet, Blue Planet, Seaspiracy, My Octopus Teacher, Chasing Coral etc. There are also some really great short books on plastic pollution, for example, No. More. Plastic., Stop Making Rubbish Excuses etc.

Related post: Let’s talk about…veganism

Be ocean concious

If you want to go scuba diving or are taking a boat out, do not touch the corals! Touching coral reefs with your hands, feet, an anchor or anything really will kill them. I totally understand that coral reefs are gorgeous to look at, but they don’t look so good when they are white and no longer support life around them.

In some seaside gift shops, they sell coral as a souvenir, please don’t buy it – it will only encourage them to kill it. Tortoiseshell and shark products are also found. All of these so-called souvenirs really affect the ecosystem.

Stop buying single-use plastic

I know that I go on about single-use plastic a bit but it really is important to stop buying it. If you already own a plastic bottle, keep reusing it! Sometimes when people hear about eliminating plastic, they throw out everything plastic that they own. It is going to exist whether you are using it or if it’s sat in a landfill. You may as well make the most out of it and use it as much as possible – basically until it breaks! You don’t need to buy bottled water, use a tap and reuse a plastic bottle.

Related post: Simple sustainable swaps for students

Reduce your carbon footprint

Your carbon footprint doesn’t just affect the land around you, it also affects the oceans. Having a bigger carbon footprint means that a lot of CO2 is being produced. More CO2 = warmer planet and oceans. A warmer ocean means the acidity goes up and coral bleaching starts which means that it cannot support as many fish. Acid rain also comes into effect, as does more extreme weather – particularly in lower-income countries.

Related post: 10+ ways to reduce your digital carbon footprint

Look after the beach

Looking after the beach is so important because anything you leave on the sand will get washed up into the sea. Take part in a litter pick, you don’t have to be a part of an official one. Sometimes when I go to the beach I bring a plastic bag and some gloves and have a mini litter pick of what I see on route. Obviously, it is really great to plan a beach clean but doing little often is great too.

When I last did a beach clean, I found a lot of masks! This was to be expected but it was still devastating. Buying a reusable mask is cheaper for you, they are more comfortable and they won’t harm the ocean. I understand that some people are very worried about catching covid and so want to just dispose of them, but putting them straight into the laundry works too. If you do use a single-use mask, please cut the string so that it won’t suffocate or choke an animal.

Buy ocean-friendly sun cream

I used to think that coral reef-friendly sun cream wasn’t needed when living in the UK but the ocean is all connected! Nivea has brought out a different recipe (I think) to one of their sun creams. It is a 95% recycled bottle (I’d recommend reusing it or upcycling it), it’s free of the UV filters Octinoxate, Oxybenzone and Octocrylene, as well as being free of microplastics. It says ocean respect on the front of the bottle so you can tell which is the new one.

Best wishes, Cx

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39 Comments

  1. Lovely points you’re bringing to light, a few I haven’t thought about before either. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Thank you for reading xx

  2. I’m so glad you wrote this as it often amazes me how interconnected we are to all of nature. Your post is a good reminder of that!

    1. Thank you <3

  3. Alice Spake says:

    This is such a brilliant post, I thought I was fairly knowledgeable when it came to the ocean but there’s sooo much more to learn. It’s such a wonderful part of our planet

    1. Aw thank you x I totally agree 🙂

  4. I think educating others is the most important thing right now so I’m glad I stumbled across this post! Watching documentaries like Seaspiracy has definitely taught me more!

    Katy | http://www.katystephenson.com | http://www.thegrownupsclub.com

    1. Thank you 🙂 me too x

  5. Excellent post. I have stopped eating seafood altogether since watching Seaspiracy and I want to do more to help save our oceans. Your tips will come in handy!

    Rosie

    1. Aw, that’s great to hear! 🙂 xx

  6. I learned something new from this post! I had no idea we also rely on the ocean for medicine. I’m glad I read about the many ways we rely on the ocean. On my part, I’ve been trying to reduce single use plastic and even switched sun screen that’s more reef friendly.

    1. Those are great swaps xx

  7. I didn’t know lot of our medical ingredients came from ocean. Thanks for this informative post!
    xoxo
    Lovely
    http://www.mynameislovely.com

    1. Thank you x

  8. I love this post! I think the ocean is a fascinating place, and I can’t wait to get back to the seaside one day. Thank you for sharing these ways we can help the ocean x

    1. Me too x

  9. Very interesting post Caroline! I never thought about medicine and the carbon sink, I think we never speak enough of these points. Going to add the documentaries to my watch list x

    1. Thank you, I’m so glad xx

  10. I’m always shocked by that 50% of oxygen statistic. It’s amazing how important the ocean is!

    1. Me too x

  11. Oh my goodness, I take quite a few medications because of my chronic illness and I honestly never knew that some meds can actually stem from the ocean, that has surprised me so much! x

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

    1. The ocean is pretty amazing! x

  12. Mind Beauty Simplicity says:

    this is such a great post & i’m so glad you are spreading awareness about the ocean & the ways we can preserve it. single use plastics should seriously be banned at this point. i think a few areas have discussed the possibility.

    1. Thank you x

  13. I had no idea that the ocean gives us 50% of oxygen. That’s amazing. We really do need to take care of our oceans and our planet. Oceans really are important. Thank you for teaching me something new and something I totally did not know.

    1. Aw thank you x

  14. The Healthcare Hustle says:

    I hope we can all be kinder to the oceans and also make some systemic change that aids ocean life. We are better than this and our big blue seas deserve to be protected for all the reasons you mentioned!

    1. So true!

  15. Sushi is one of my favourite foods. Seaweed is great too! I didn’t realise quite how much we relied on the world’s oceans. It’s so important that we can all do our bit to help. It’s difficult because I absolutely love fish but I can definitely educate myself more on what I can do to help x

    1. So true x

  16. Great post! I didn’t realize the ocean actually provided 50% of our oxygen. I could definitely use more education, my knowledge is limited when it comes to the ocean. Thanks for sharing this info and the resources to learn more!

    1. Yeah, it’s pretty amazing! Thank you 🙂

  17. Really helpful informative post here! The ocean is so important and these tips will definitely make a world of difference if everyone does them. I have to admit I hadn’t heard of ocean friendly suncream before but now that I have I will definitely be looking into it! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you 🙂

  18. Such an informative post, I learnt a lot from this! I had no idea that the ocean supplies 50% of our oxygen or how we use it for medicinal purposes. Great post, I love how you’re using your blog to educate and help to make the world a better place xx

    1. Thank you, this means a lot to me xx

  19. As much as I’m terrified of the ocean, I’m grateful that it does this much for us, and I always try to be as kind to it as I can x

    1. Aw, I’m sorry that you are scared of the ocean but I think it’s great to appreciate the necessity xx

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