June 8th is World Oceans Day! We need healthy oceans: they give us food and medicine, oceans help to clean the water we drink, help regulate our climate— and who doesn’t enjoy a day at the beach?!
From underwater plants to marine wildlife, our oceans are threatened by over-fishing, contamination, and climate change. According to the Global Partnership for Oceans (see this video), 90% of big fish are gone and 50% of coral reefs are lost.
What can kids do?
* Reduce use of plastic. This is the most threatening issue in our oceans: Most of the trash picked up on shores is plastic, which harms sea animals. Refill your own water bottle, bring a reusable bag when shopping, and don’t use disposables when packing your lunch for school. (Parents: listen to this NPR report about plastic in our oceans.)
* Ask your parents to buy ocean-friendly seafood. Here is a list of recommended seafood that are abundant, well-managed and caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. On the same list, are seafood to avoid because they are overfished or caught or farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment.
* Host a water clean-up day. Recruit volunteers- even if it’s just your friends and family- and clean up a local beach, lake, river, stream, or wetland. By spending part of a day picking up litter, we realize the trash in our local water sources will eventually make its way to the ocean. Cleaning up helps us appreciate our natural habitats and are less likely to contribute to pollution.
* Learn about the ocean and spread the word!
- This list of amazing lesson plans and ocean curricula from the National Environmental Education Week is geared at students (separated into grades K-4, 5-8, 9-12) and includes lessons on marine animal and plant life, the tides, water traveling from streams to the oceans, ecosystems, coral reefs and more!
- Google Earth has wonderful resources to explore the ocean. Students can dive beneath the surface of the ocean, and visit the deepest point on earth: the Mariana Trench. Top marine experts from National Geographic and the BBC are your tour guides, as you learn about climate change, endangered species, and observe the ocean. You can even “dive” to view 3D shipwrecks like the Titanic.
Check out The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea by Helaine Becker. This wonderful resource has tons of experiments you can do at home or in the classroom with minimal materials that focus on pollution and other hazards and how they affect marine life. This book says it is for 8+, and your bigger kids will LOVE the hands-on activities in this book. I also found plenty of activities that even preschoolers/kinders can enjoy (the Blubber Glove, Octopus Spots, How Pearls are Made, Dinner Time for Whale, Studying fish scales, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch).
Also check out: A cool drink of WATER by Barbara Kerly, a beautiful photography book showing kids around the world and where they get their water from.
- Visit your local zoo or aquarium for high-quality ocean education! If you’re close to a beach, spend the day in the sun observing wildlife and playing in our beautiful seas.
Here are some inspiring videos to help celebrate World Oceans Day- the first one is my favorite!:)