Throughout October we will explore the wide world of oceans. We will look at some serious issues concerning this topic, such as acidifcation, over-fishing, and pollution. Please let us know what issues you would like to see discussed!
True or false? Sound travels faster through water than air.
The answer to this and several other water-related questions can be found in this fun quiz for kids. This quiz is a great way for people of all ages to learn some facts about water, so give it a try! If you’re interested in the science behind some of the quiz questions, check out the sites below for educational resources and some ideas for hands on experiments.
For all things oceans, check out this site which offers “An ocean of free teacher-approved education resources.” From the extensive menu of topics to choose from, you will find everything from links to more information to lesson plans for middle and high school students, university students, and even professionals. Explore the various websites, articles, and activities to really delve into a variety of oceans-related topics.
If you’re interested in ocean acidification, then check out this site. It has an entire section on lab activities for a variety of ages, such as “Ocean acidification in a cup.” You can also calculate your carbon footprint, look at free videos and presentation (such as a “30-min, in-depth presentation of the science of OA [Ocean Acidification], and engage with interactive online programming like the “OA Virtual Lab”, “An engaging ‘virtual experiment’ on sea urchin larvae, using real experiment microscope photography.”
We hope you find these resources engaging!
This post was written by Andreas Merkl, President and CEO, Ocean Conservancy. Having grown up on the banks of the Rhine River in industrial northern Germany, Andreas decided at the age of 10 to dedicate his life to conservation. With a background in environmental science, resource economics and business, Andreas is particularly interested in determining the ocean’s rightful role in answering the central question of our time: how to meet the enormous resource demands of a rapidly growing global population without destroying the natural systems that sustain us. Andreas is never happier than when he’s out on the water and is a passionate sailor and surfer and has dived most of the world’s oceans. Follow him on Twitter @AndreasMerkl.
The Ocean: Our Greatest Natural Resource
Despite the fact that our planet is 70 percent water, it’s easy to take for granted the many ways that the ocean keeps us alive. The ocean provides much of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the climate that surrounds us.
The complex ocean systems that produce these benefits—from currents and photosynthesis to food chains—are often chaotic and unpredictable at smaller scales, but at large scales they come together in a balanced way to ensure that life can thrive.
The ocean is resilient, and it will provide for us unless we forget about its vital role at the center of the biggest challenge of our time – how to meet the enormous resource demands of a rapidly growing global population without destroying the natural systems that sustain us.
In every aspect of this challenge—food, energy, climate and protection of our natural resources—our ability to manage our impacts on the ocean will make the crucial difference in sustaining the resources that we need to survive.
One of the ocean’s most important life-giving functions is its absorption of carbon dioxide emissions. But we have increased the amount of carbon pollution pumped into the air, forcing the ocean to absorb more and more of it. As a result, the ocean’s chemistry is changing—it has become 30 percent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution. There is no doubt about this; it is a simple chemical process.
Overall there is no greater threat to life on our planet than the effects of putting too much carbon into the atmosphere, and ocean acidification is a very large part of the problem.
Ocean acidification is, simply put, the largest chemistry experiment ever attempted. It is happening now, and it has real impacts on people and local economies today. Shell-building animals like oysters and sea snails are having trouble building their shells in overly acidic waters, and this has a ripple effect up the food web and across livelihoods. These impacts are likely small compared to what could come if carbon dioxide concentrations keep increasing at the current rate. At a certain point, shell-building animals will not be able to produce the shells they need to survive, with dire consequences for the entire food chain.
At Ocean Conservancy, we’re working with the world’s top ocean acidification scientists to raise awareness about this growing threat. We’re also working on solutions with the people on the front lines who are already being affected, from oyster growers in Washington state to mussel growers in Maine.
The ocean is not just a victim—it must also be the part of the solution. Important decisions about how the ocean is used for fishing, shipping, energy extraction and production, and more have huge implications for the future of carbon emissions and the ocean’s ability to sustain life. That’s why Ocean Conservancy is working with fishermen, shippers, drillers, oceanographers and others to transform ocean health.
Visit Ocean Conservancy’s website to learn more about why the ocean matters and how ocean acidification is affecting those who depend on the ocean for food and livelihoods. There are solutions to be found, and it will take all of our ideas, passion and ingenuity to get there.
This entry reflects the author’s personal judgments and does not represent the views of the United States Government or the Department of State.
During last week’s Oceans Campaign on the Global Conversations: Our Planet Facebook page, one of the actions we highlighted to help oceans is to learn about them! Even if you do not live near a large body of water, education is the first step in ocean conservation. It helps us understand the importance of oceans and the issues they face, such as climate change, overfishing, and pollution. There are a lot of great online resources that not only explain these issues, but also give us ideas about what we can do to help, from turning off the water when we brush our teeth to creating simple rain barrels to catch water that can then be re-used.
Check out these online resources full of information about oceans:
This guest blog was written by Dr. Nancy Knowlton, Sant Chair of Marine Science at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. Dr. Knowlton recently completed a tour in Manila, Batangas, and Quezon City, where she spoke with students, academics, government officials and museum curators about coral reefs, biodiversity conservation efforts and marine research in the Philippines. Dr. Knowlton’s visit to the Philippines was coordinated through support from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
Turn over a big rock in the woods and see lots of critters dash or creep for cover. If you lift up rocks in a tide pool (a pool of seawater along the shore refilled by the tide), you will similarly discover a community of organisms you might never have suspected even existed. (Remember to always place the rock back carefully so that they don’t lose their homes.)
No matter where you look, there are different kinds of animals, plants, fungi and microbes making a living on our planet, often unnoticed by us. This is biodiversity and it is everywhere, often hiding in plain sight. But if we don’t usually notice this biodiversity, does it make a difference? Would it matter if the living world consisted of just the common animals and plants we count on to feed us and produce the things we need to make our homes and run our factories?
Losing most of the planet’s biodiversity would not just make for a much more boring world, but also many of the things we take for granted would no longer happen. Did you enjoy an apple recently? Then thank the bee that pollinated the apple flower. Have you noticed that our pathways and beaches are not thickly littered with the stinking corpses of dead animals? Then say thank you to the planet’s undertakers: scavengers great and small, from vultures to tiny insects and microbes, who turn the bodies of the dead into nutrients for new life. Do you enjoy swimming in clear water? If so, be grateful for oysters and sponges, who, after filtering the water for food, return it in a much cleaner state. Had a fish dinner recently? Depending on what you ate, you might want to send a note of appreciation to the coastal seagrasses or mangrove forests that provided it shelter when it was young.
Consider a tiny fish from Fiji that serves as a bodyguard for the corals it calls home. Only last year did we learn that when a nasty species of seaweed that can kill coral settles nearby, the coral sends out a chemical call for help. Within minutes, the tiny fish removes the threat by eating the seaweed. In doing so, that little fish doesn’t just help the coral; it helps us too. The coral creates the reef that in turn provides food, attractions for tourists with the jobs that they bring, and protection for coastal communities against storm waves and tsunamis. Hiding within the branches of these corals are also medicines waiting to be discovered, such as from cone snails. Their lovely shells appeal to collectors, but even more important is the cocktail of poisons that the living cone snails use to catch their prey—deadly to fish, but for us, they are valuable sources of painkillers and possible treatments for arthritis or cancer.
So does biodiversity matter? What do you think?
This entry reflects the author’s personal judgments and does not represent the views of the United States Government or the Department of State.
Ocean explorer and activist Philippe Cousteau, Jr. has filmed a short video just for you with a simple idea to conserve water. Check out this video, as well as his other World Oceans Day video, his World Oceans Day blog post, and his Facebook photo gallery of him taking small steps to help oceans! We hope you are inspired!
Environmental activist Philippe Cousteau, Jr., President of EarthEcho International, has joined the Global Conversations: Our Planet team for a five-day World Oceans Day Campaign. Check out his guest blog about the importance of oceans and how we can help here. In the short video below, Philippe shows you his vegetable garden and discusses how growing and composting your own food reduces your carbon emissions. Reducing your carbon footprint helps combat climate change, which has serious negative impacts on oceans. Learn more and join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.
We are excited to announce a photo campaign to celebrate World Oceans Day! Below are instructions explaining what to take a photo of and some Terms and Conditions that must be read and agreed to in order for you to participate. We hope you will send your photo to email@example.com before June 17, 2013 – then we will share some of them next week!
Step One. Take an original photograph of:
A. You and/or your friends/family participating in a water-related activity, such as cleaning up trash along the shore line or turning off the water while you brush your teeth; or
B. You in front of a body of water holding up a sign that says “I the ocean;” or
C. You in front of a body of water making the heart sign or the “hang ten” sign .
Step Two. Email your photo to: IIPOceans@state.gov with the following info: 1) your name or user ID; 2) your country; and 3) where the photo was taken.
Your participation in this campaign is automatically deemed as acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS:
a. Submissions should be in .jpg, .gif, or .png format and no larger than an eight (8) megabyte (MB) file size. Submissions should not have any visible watermarks, signatures, or personally identifiable information.
b. Submissions must not contain obscenity, explicit sexual material, nudity, profanity, graphic violence, calls or incitement to violence, commercial solicitation or commercial promotion. Submissions must conform to local laws and must not contain content or images that could be considered abusive, inflammatory, denigrating, or disrespectful to any groups, individuals or institutions. Submissions must adhere both in appearance and in fact to the norms of civil discourse. In other words, the content of all Submissions must be suitable for a global, public audience.
c. Submissions must be original content created by the participants and must not contain any elements that are protected by copyright or subject to third party intellectual property or proprietary rights, including privacy and publicity rights (except as expressly permitted below in (d)). The Campaign Sponsors recognize no allowance for “fair use” of copyrighted material, nor do Campaign Sponsors recognize allowance for use of licensed materials created or owned by a third party.
d. The Campaign Sponsors reserve the right to remove, at their sole and absolute discretion, any submission that does not adhere to these criteria and to the intent and substance of these Official Campaign Rules.
e. Retouching of Photos: The submitted photograph cannot be significantly retouched: nothing in the photograph(s) (people, animals, scenery, objects, etc.) may be altered, removed, augmented or rearranged. Cropping is permitted, as is modest darkening or lightening of parts of the image.
f. By submitting a photo to the campaign, the Participant affirms that he or she has obtained written consent from all individuals whose image or likeness appears in the photo (or from the individuals’ parent/legal guardian if any such individuals are considered a minor in their country of residence), and that he or she has obtained the necessary rights, licenses, consents, and permissions to use all material such as music, images, text and other content in the submission. The Participant further affirms that he or she is prepared to provide reliable documentation of any and all such consents, licenses, etc., upon request. Failure to obtain such rights, license consents, and permissions may result in the disqualification of the Photo Submission at the Campaign Sponsors’ sole and absolute discretion.
g. IMPORTANT: You retain ownership of the copyright in your photograph as its author and you are free to republish it wherever you wish and in whatever medium you want.
a. This campaign is intended for IIP’s overseas audiences active on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. It is not intended for U.S. audiences.
b. Participants must be at least 13 years old on the date of photo submission. Parental/legal guardian consent is required for minors under the age of 18. Participants may not be U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
c. Photos may be sent to IIPOceans@state.gov at any time between Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 1200 hours UTC/2000 hours EDT and Sunday, June 16, 2013 at 1200 hours UTC/2000 hours EDT. The photos may be displayed at any time after Monday, June 10, 2013.
Liability and Rights
a. The Campaign Sponsors do not necessarily endorse any submitted photo, messages or advice expressed therein, and the Campaign Sponsors expressly disclaim any and all liability in connection with the submitted photos, including disputes between collaborators related to a submission.
b. The Campaign and its sponsors do not permit copyright infringing activities or infringement of any other intellectual property rights, and Campaign Sponsors reserve the right to remove and disqualify any submission they deem to be in violation of another party’s copyright or other intellectual property rights.
c. Participants retain sole ownership of their original work. The submission remains the intellectual property of the participant, and the Campaign sponsors and U.S. Government make no claim of copyright as to the work of any individual who enters the campaign.
d. By submitting a photograph you: a) give us permission to publish it in any U.S. Department of State publication or online property, including – but not limited to – the Global Conversations: Our Planet Facebook page, @our1planet on Twitter, and Our Planet blog; b) grant us a non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide license to republish it in any format including without limitation in print and electronic formats; c) you give us permission to cut, edit, crop, modify or arrange your photograph in order to fit in our layout or design parameters, and we may remove your photograph at any time; d) you give us permission to use your name and town or city of residence for the purpose of identifying you as the author of your photograph; and, e) you accept that there will be no payment to you for your submission or our subsequent use of it.
Limitations of Liability and Release
a. Campaign Sponsors assume no liability or responsibility for any loss or harm resulting from any user’s participation in or attempt to participate in the Campaign or ability or inability to upload, download, or otherwise access any information in connection with participating in the Campaign. Campaign Sponsors assume no responsibility or liability for technical problems, or technical malfunction arising in connection with any of the following occurrences which may affect the operation of the Campaign: hardware or software errors; faulty computer, telephone, cable, satellite, network, electronic, wireless or Internet connectivity, or other online communication problems; errors or limitations of any Internet service providers, servers, hosts or providers; garbled, jumbled or faulty data transmissions; failure of any email transmissions to be sent or received; lost, late, delayed or intercepted email transmissions; inaccessibility of the Campaign site in whole or in part for any reason; traffic congestion on the Internet or the Campaign site; unauthorized human or non-human intervention in the operation of the Campaign, including without limitation, unauthorized tampering, hacking, theft, virus, bugs, worms; or destruction of any aspect of the Campaign, or loss, miscount, misdirection, inaccessibility or unavailability of an email account used in connection with the Campaign.
b. Use of Campaign site is at user’s own risk. Campaign Sponsors are not responsible for any personal injury, property damage, or losses of any kind which may be sustained to user’s or another person’s computer equipment resulting from participation in the Campaign, use of the Campaign site or the downloading of information from the Campaign site. By participating in the Campaign, the Participant releases Campaign Sponsors from any and all claims, damages or liabilities arising from or relating to such Participant’s participation in the Campaign.
This post was written by explorer, social entrepreneur and environmental advocate, Philippe Cousteau, Jr. He is the President of the leading environmental education nonprofit EarthEcho International. Philippe is also a special correspondent for CNN International.
June 8, World Oceans Day, is an opportunity for people around the world to celebrate one of our most precious natural resources. The ocean however needs more than our appreciation, it needs our help. Helping doesn’t have to be complicated, it can be easy and fun (look for photos and videos from me this week of everyday things we can do to help). This year I am joining the Global Conversations: Our Planet team and followers to explore how each of us can have a positive impact on the ocean regardless of whether we live near the water’s edge or thousands of miles away from it. That is the amazing thing about the ocean; it’s a central hub that connects each and every one of us.
Think of the ocean as the center of nature’s worldwide web. Instead of bytes of data its connections are much more essential. It produces half of the world’s oxygen; it provides more than one billion people with their primary source of protein; its natural eco-systems like coral reefs, mangroves and wetlands provide protection against coastal erosion and natural disasters such as tsunamis; it regulates our climate; and a healthy ocean fuels sustainable businesses and a strong economy in industries such as seafood, tourism, pharmaceuticals, shipping and even energy.
It is important to remember that this worldwide connection works both ways. Every stream, creek, river, lake and storm drain ultimately lead back to this life-giving body of water and they carry with them the by-products of daily life from billions of people around the world. The transportation we choose, the energy we use, the amount of water we consume and food we eat also have direct impacts on the health and future of our ocean and its wealth of resources. That means every hour of every day each of us can make choices that have the power to protect and restore our ocean.
I’m inviting Global Conversations: Our Planet followers to join me in a week-long campaign to take action for a brighter future for the ocean and all of us who depend on its resources. Each day, this page will feature different tips, information and resources to help you be part of the solution to the challenges facing our ocean. Of course the big things like how we vote, what we eat and how we consume energy have a big impact, but there are lots of other, everyday things we do that make a difference too. So remember, June 8 is World Oceans Day, and every day is an opportunity to make a positive difference.
You can also find more tools and resources through my non-profit organization, EarthEcho International (www.earthecho.org) where we work to give youth the tools to change the world.
Today is World Environment Day! This year’s theme is Think. Eat Save. As the United Nations Environment Programme website states, “Think.Eat.Save is an anti-food waste and food loss campaign that encourages you to reduce your foodprint. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger.”
So how does Think. Eat. Save affect oceans? Fish are an important component of billions of people’s diets, and for a very long time it seemed the oceans had a never ending supply of fish. However, years of fishing practices that take in too much catch and waste many fish in the process have taken their toll, and many types of fish are severely depleted. The current methods of over-fishing are unsustainable, and unless we change our practices and consumption habits, certain species will disappear from the oceans.
To learn more about the overfishing problem, check out overfishing.org, a website that splits up the issue into four concrete questions: What is overfishing? Why is overfishing a problem? What can I do to help? Where can I find answers? The site offers up four basic tenets that they think every long-term successful and sustainable fishery should have:
Every long-term successful and sustainable fishery, near-shore or high-seas, needs to be managed according to some basic ground rules:
- Safe catch limits
A constantly reassessed, scientifically determined, limit on the total number of fish caught and landed by a fishery. Politics and short time economical incentives should have no role in this.
- Controls on bycatch
The use of techniques or management rules to prevent the unintentional killing and disposal of fish, crustaceans and other oceanic life not part of the target catch or landed.
- Protection of pristine and important habitats
The key parts in ecosystems need full protection from destructive fisheries; e.g. the spawning and nursing grounds of fish, delicate sea floor, unique unexplored habitats, and corals.
- Monitoring and Enforcement
A monitoring system to make sure fishermen do not land more than they are allowed to, do not fish in closed areas and cheat as less as possible. Strong monetary enforcement is needed to make it uneconomic to cheat.
For for information on overfishing, check out the National Geographic site. It follows a timeline from when we first recognized an overfishing problem to when scientists suspect stocks of certain fish will be completely depleted if we keep fishing and consuming at the same rate.