At school, we may learn that the Ocean has five separate regions, namely, the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Artic and Southern Ocean.
But our Ocean is not separated by borders. It’s connected as one and it works as a whole to help make all life on Earth possible.
Connection with our Ocean
Talking about ‘Our Ocean’ as one Ocean reinforces the notion of its interconnectedness.
We must all understand that: What happens in one part of the Ocean will have an impact on another part.
When 29,000 rubber duckswere washed into the North Pacific Ocean, they began showing up thousands of miles away in Alaska, Washington 10 months later.
This was known as “the quack heard around the world” and proved that a rubber duck (or a plastic bottle or whatever else) if chucked into a river could move across the Ocean and end up on the other side of the world.
A similar story happened, when almost five million pieces of Lego escaped into the Ocean off the coast of Cornwall, spilled from a cargo ship. The tiny, plastic figurines are still being washed up on the beaches of Cornwall 25 years later.
We are all connected to the Ocean through weather, climate, and the very air we breathe. But everyone has their own unique experiences of the magic and beauty of the Ocean.
We swim, sail and bathe by the beach. We eat fish or seaweed in sushi. We use products that are imported from other parts of the world – by boat. We listen to Ocean sounds on Spotify to relax us.
Biologist Wallace J Nichols, the author of Blue Mind, says “We are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what’s broken.”
This is where we come in. Here at Ocean Generation, we want to rebuild this connection.
Every drop of water is connected.
We don’t usually think of the water that comes out of our taps as the same water in the Ocean. But to quote a little fish…
All drains lead back to the Ocean.
The water that we use every day and the waterbodies in our communities connect us to the Ocean. All water eventually flows out to the Ocean.
Our Ocean is weaved into every part of our daily lives – and our actions have extraordinary impacts on it.
Want to feel more connected to our blue planet?
Join the Ocean Generation
The Ocean Generation is coming together to restore a healthy relationship between humanity and the Ocean. As the first generation to understand ocean issues, we are also the last generation who can stop them.
The Ocean is a flourishing ecosystem that can maintain itself.
But our actions have been negatively impacting the Ocean for decades, at a rate our Ocean cannot keep up with.
There was a time when we thought the Ocean was endless. So, we treated it that way: Taking what we wanted, when we wanted, in whatever quantity we liked.
It took us far too long to realise the many ways we threaten our Ocean. But now we know better.
Our Ocean is one of our planet’s most valuable ecosystems.
The Ocean provides over 50% of the world’s oxygen, captures 30% of human-made carbon emissions, and mitigates the climate crisis. The bottom line: We need a healthy Ocean for a healthy planet.
How does human activity threaten the Ocean?
Our Impact work explores the 5 key ways human actions negatively impact the Ocean.
Many of the underlying actions causing these Ocean Threats have existed throughout the course of human history – but have become unsustainable more recently because of rapid population growth and the consequent scale of our impact on the marine environment.
What human activity impacts the Ocean the worst?
There are no known, credible, scientific classification of the severity of these Ocean threats. What does that mean – simply? We can’t tell you which of the five threaten the Ocean the worst.
But there’s no doubt that all of these Ocean threats are inter-related and can combine to have vast negative impacts on Ocean health, marine habitats and marine life which, in turn, pose serious threats to human health.
What are the 5 human-made Ocean threats?
1. Climate change: We can’t talk about climate change without the Ocean
It’s widely accepted that human actions are the primary drivers of climate change. The biggest culprit? Burning fossil fuels (for example, coal, oil and gas) to produce energy is the main cause of climate change.
Signs of climate change are all around us – and impossible to ignore. But too few of us understand the important role our Ocean plays in mitigating the climate crisis.
How does the Ocean mitigate climate change?
Our Ocean plays a fundamental role in regulating global temperatures, storing massive amounts of carbon, and capturing heat from the atmosphere.
Although the Ocean drastically mitigates climate change, it’s also impacted by climate change. These changes (like increased Ocean heat), have negative consequences on Ocean health and thus, all of us.
2. Pollution: It’s not just plastic polluting our Ocean.
80% of plastic in our Ocean comes from the land and most of that is made up of single-use plastic items; products we use once, then throw away. And that’s the biggest problem with plastic: there is no “away.”
3. Coastal Infrastructure Development: Why do we need to protect our coastlines?
2.5 billion people live within 100km from our Ocean.
Coastal regions are densely populated areas with increasing rates of population growth (and who can blame them? Living near the Ocean has numerous benefits.)
With higher frequencies of natural weather events (like cyclones and hurricanes), erosion and land loss, and flooding, coastal regions have never been this vulnerable.
4. Resource Extraction: What resources do we extract from the Ocean?
Around 3 billion people rely on the Ocean for their primary source of protein: Seafood.
Seafood is the most notable thing we extract from the Ocean but it’s not the only thing. We also extract minerals, fossil fuels, and plants from the Ocean.
Our Ocean – as incredible as it is – is not limitless.
We must recognise the limits of Ocean resources and control the quantity and frequency at which we extract resources from the Ocean; allowing it time to replenish and regenerate. Otherwise, we will reach a point of no return.
5. Daily Ocean Use: What’s the impact of daily human actions on the Ocean?
Humans work hard and always have something on the go. The Ocean is no different.
All around the world, our Ocean is in use every day. From cargo shipping for trade, passenger traffic for travel to commercial fishing and research – the Ocean is used widely. How we make use of the Ocean is what’s important.
We need to turn to using the Ocean sustainably to protect the awe-inspiring ecosystem that supports all life on Earth.
What can I do to protect our blue planet?
Understanding the 5 main threats our Ocean faces is step one. Step two is doing something about them. Some of these Ocean Threats can feel overwhelming – but they don’t have to be.
Working together is humanity’s superpower. And it remains our best tool for solving the world’s biggest problems, and simultaneously, restoring our Ocean.
Three ways you can take environmental action – with a focus on the Ocean – right now:
Subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly impact in your inbox; explore our Science Hub; or visit our Instagram page for bite-size environmental education.
Recognise that you don’t have to be perfect.
Ask yourself: What can I do right now to decrease my carbon footprint? What can I do to be a voice for our Ocean and empower others to do the same?
Ocean Generation: Endorsed as a UN Ocean Decade Project
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In 2017, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 – 2030 as ‘the Ocean Decade’ (officially: the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development).
What is the goal of the UN’s Ocean Decade?
The Ocean Decade is a global effort to provide “transformative Ocean science solutions for sustainable development, connecting people and our Ocean” endorsed by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO; scientists, resource providers, governments, business and industry, and other stakeholders joining forces to drive solutions.
Their vision? To provide the science we need for the Ocean we want, with the aim of supporting a well-functioning, productive, resilient and sustainable Ocean.
Ocean Generation’s “Ocean Intelligence” approach has been endorsed by the UN Ocean Decade.
What is Ocean Intelligence?
“We are delighted that our unique Ocean Intelligence approach has been endorsed by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC). Our ‘Ocean Intelligence’ approach uses the power of storytelling to translate complex Ocean science into engaging and practical actions. Through Ocean Intelligence we play a central role in bringing to life the vision of the Ocean Decade by connecting people everywhere to the Ocean and communicating the science we need for the Ocean we want. We are particularly happy to continue our long relationship with the IOC who were early supporters and patrons of our original documentary film ‘A Plastic Ocean’.“
Richard Hill, CEO at Ocean Generation.
We unpack the often jargon-heavy, complicated science behind the human actions that threaten our Ocean.
Ocean Generation uses the power of storytelling to translate environmental science into understandable, practical actions that people, globally, can take to restore a healthy relationship with the Ocean and live more sustainable lifestyles.
Our Ocean Intelligence approach is grounded in four science-based pillars:
Our Ocean: Engaging people in the wonder of our Ocean.
Ocean not Oceans: Sharing the Science behind one interconnected Ocean that humans rely on.
Our Impact: Exploring the 5 human actions that threaten our Ocean.
Our Future: Discovering how we can all take Ocean Action.
These 4 pillars underpin all our Youth Engagement programmes for 3 – 25-year-olds.
How we bring the Ocean to young people
From a toe in the water to a full immersive experience
In partnership with Earth Cubs, we’ve launched a play-based game for 3 – 7-year-olds that aims to engage children on the importance of our Ocean, the harm of plastic pollution, and how they can contribute to creating a healthier planet.
Ocean Academy exists to bring the Ocean to the classroom. It’s an open-source digital education hub designed for 5 – 16-year-olds, providing them with access to the best Ocean education – in easy to understand and engage with formats.
The Wavemaker Programme empowers young adults – 16 – 25 – to make a positive change by providing them with tools and resources. Through our workshops, masterclasses, and personal development programmes, Wavemakers accelerates social action and incubates innovation.
We see a world where the Ocean is freed from human threats within a generation.