The world ocean compromises roughly 71% of the world’s surface, and plays a crucial role here on Earth. Living on an island like Koh Tao, it is sometimes easy to overlook some of the important things the ocean provides for us. Today, June 8th is officially World Ocean Day and gives us a reason to celebrate the ocean, and raise awareness for many issues that affect the ocean.
This year’s World Ocean Day theme is “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet”. Individuals and Organizations across the globe are taking action to prevent plastic pollution in the World’s Oceans.
History of World Ocean Day
World Ocean Day has unofficially been celebrated on June 8th since 1992, when the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil originally proposed the idea. The Ocean Project has been promoting and coordinating World Ocean Day since 2002. In 2008, World Ocean Day was officially recognized by the United Nations, making it the event it is today.
What is Koh Tao Doing?
World Ocean Day here in Koh Tao, has taken many different forms. Organizations and dive schools all around Koh Tao have scheduled land and dive site cleanups all across the island.
Here at Crystal Dive, our partner Eco Koh Tao kicked off the day with a land clean up. The group cleaned up along Mae Haad Beach, the pier area and various other locations nearby. They collected bag upon bag of rubbish.
Rubbish including plastic bottles, cigarette butts, bottle tops, straws, etc. All of which could have run off into the ocean.
After a morning of hard work on land, a group of divers headed out to perform a dive site cleanup at Tao Tong, and perform some work at Junkyard, Eco Koh Tao’s artificial reef project.
An island made up of divers and non-divers, we all have many reasons why we should care about the Ocean.
So Why Should We Care About The Ocean?
The world’s ocean generates most of the oxygen we breathe. The ocean has a large biomass of phytoplankton which uses photosynthesis to remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and provide us with Oxygen which is essential for us to breathe.
The world’s ocean help feed us. There is little known on the total amount of fish in the ocean, but many different people and cultures use the ocean as their primary food source.
The world’s ocean helps control the earth’s climate. Ocean currents and ocean gyres play huge parts in controlling the world’s climate, giving us climate events such as El Nino or La Nina.
The world’s ocean provides us with a lot of our clean drinking water. The ocean plays a critical role in our hydrological cycle. Water evaporates from the ocean and rains down over land adding to our rivers, streams, lakes, and our water table.
The world’s ocean holds thousands of unknown chemicals, and compounds which are just now being discovered and being used to treat and cure diseases.
The world’s ocean also provides a mode of transport for international trade.
What Can We Do?
Aside from participating in local World Ocean Day events near you, there are several different ways in which you can help protect the ocean for the future.
The first is to change our perspective, encourage others to think about the ocean and what it means to them.
Whether they are divers, surfers, swimmers, sunbathers, fishermen, etc. changing the way they view the ocean so that they realize what they actually get from the ocean and what they potentially may lose if they do not preserve it.
Another way to help is to educate yourself. Learn more about the ocean, the organisms within and how we can help to protect them.
This can be by educating yourself or taking courses in the field.
As divers we can take courses like Marine Resource Management, Reef Check, Fish Identification Specialty, and the Naturalist Specialist. These courses will teach you more about the marine environment and make you a more environmentally conscious diver.
The third way and easiest to help, is by changing small things in our daily routine. Making a point to pick up one piece of trash every day, will help reduce the waste running into our oceans.
Refusing plastic bags at check out in thr 7-11 or other shops around the island, cutting down on our waste.
Refusing that colorful straw in your bucket or cocktail will cut down on the plastic thrown into the landfill. Small changes in our daily behavior, however small they are, have a big impact in the end.
Lastly, but most importantly, celebrate the ocean!
Remember, no matter where you live we are all connected to the ocean. Take time out of your day to think about what you get from the ocean and how the ocean affects you. Participate or organize your own events that celebrate the ocean and everything it gives us.
Happy World Ocean Day!
Author: Will Nittler (PADI DM #372286)