We all know oceans are important. Today is a day to remember just how important. (And a day to look at really cool sea creature photos.)
World Oceans Day has been unofficially celebrated every June 8 since it was originally proposed by Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. It was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008. Since then it has been coordinated internationally by The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network.
WorldOceansDay.org lists several reasons why people should take a moment to celebrate oceans. It states that oceans:
- Generate most of the oxygen we breathe
- Help feed us
- Regulate our climate
- Clean the water we drink
- Offer us a pharmacopoeia of potential medicines
Activists say oceans have become an environmental afterthought and have therefore greatly suffered.
In April, the Washington Post reported on a study that said that the Pacific Ocean Reef Shark population had fallen nearly 90 percent due to hunting and sport fishing. The Discovery Channel also reported in April that there could be as much as 27 times more plastic garbage in the world's oceans than previously thought. And in March, a research group from Columbia University published a paper that found pollution from carbon emissions may be speeding up the acidity of the oceans faster than in the last 300 million years.
But there has been some good news for the oceans.
On May 23, Hawaii became the first state to ever ban the use of plastic bags in grocery stores to help combat the plastic pollution.
Ecosystm.org reported in March that Australia had successfully protected large parts of the Great Barrier Reef, and that areas of the Northern Line Islands in the Pacific Ocean retain healthy reefs with large populations of living coral. At the same time Nancy Knowlton, of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, announced that the haddock and scallop populations began recovering in New England waters.
In honor of World Oceans Day, check out this slideshow of 10 of the coolest ocean creatures out there.