By Harlee Goldermann, Guest Programs Team Specialist
Have you heard June 8th is World Ocean Day? World Ocean Day is a United Nations recognized day to raise awareness, help create policy, overall inform the public of the importance of our ocean and what we can do to help protect it! Did you know that the ocean covers 70% of the planet and contributes 50% of the oxygen we breathe? Our oceans also protect us by absorbing up to 30% of carbon dioxide created by humans, which helps us with the impacts of global climate change. The ocean contains most of the earth’s biodiversity, with many of the species found on our coral reefs! Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the ocean floor but account for 25% of all known ocean life. Unfortunately, many of the species that make the coral reefs and the rest of the ocean so diverse are depleted and our ecosystems around the world are feeling the repercussions. Many of these negative impacts are caused directly by humans. Overfishing, plastic pollution, and chemical runoff are hurting our oceans and puts the need to protect our ocean and all that it does for us into a greater importance. All of this has led many to campaign for a global ocean protection effort and that is one of the many reasons why World Ocean Day came to fruition!
At Georgia Aquarium we are committed to conservation efforts that not only aim to restore coral reefs that contribute so much to the ocean’s biodiversity but also fish populations and other animals to help restore order to our ocean ecosystems! One of the ways we are doing that is by partnering with conservation institutions around the globe. Georgia Aquarium is a founding partner of the StAR Project, a project that brings facilities around the world together to help replenish zebra shark (Stegostoma tigrinum) populations in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. These waters have been protected since 2004 but zebra sharks have been functionally extinct from this area for so long that the young people of that region no longer have a common name for them in their language. Georgia Aquarium is one of 76 partners and 15 countries involved with the project. Read more about this project on https://www.reshark.org/project-star
World Ocean Day was first proposed in 1992 by Canada at the Earth summit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Through many years and collective efforts, it was not until December of 2008 that the United Nations General Assembly officially recognized and established June 8th as World Ocean Day. Over the years thousands have participated in global World Ocean Day events and thousands have pledged to help with their latest campaign #30×30. This is an effort to protect 30% of our planet by 2030. Currently less than 17% of our lands and only 8% of our oceans worldwide are protected. Protecting our ocean is incredibly vital as we have reached a point where we are taking more than what can be replenished without our help.
You can help our ocean this World Ocean Day, too! Come visit us at Georgia Aquarium on June 8th for World Ocean Day festivities for the whole family to enjoy and learn more! The proceeds from your visit will go towards helping us care for our animals and our conservation efforts protecting animals around the world, including our work with the StAR Project. We cannot wait to see you there! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit georgiaaquarium.org.