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World Ocean Day 2024

Thank you to Jessica, Year 7 BGS Eco Committee member, for writing this report. 

On Saturday 8th June, it was World Ocean Day. This is a day to celebrate the importance and value of our oceans which cover approximately 70% of our planet’s surface.  So why should we celebrate? Here are just a few reasons. 

World Ocean Day - Eco

 

Oceans produce at least 50% of the oxygen on Earth and they help to regulate the Earth’s climate.  They soak up heat and transport warm water from the equator to the poles and move cold water from the poles to the tropics. Without these currents, the weather would be extreme in some regions, and fewer places would be habitable. Furthermore, the ocean absorbs CO2, to keep the carbon cycle, and temperatures on earth, in balance.  The carbon dioxide either dissolves on the surface of the water, or it sinks down and builds up at the bottom of the sea or is used by the phytoplankton. Whichever way, it is prevented from entering the atmosphere, helping to reduce the greenhouse effect. 

As we know oceans are an important source of food; fish is on the menu for billions of people around the world every day. Fish such as cod and haddock provide almost 16% of all animal protein consumed globally. This creates many jobs in the fishing industry.  Oceans also allow efficient and cost-effective transport of goods across the world. Without commercial ships and barges, transportation of goods from place to place would be much more difficult and expensive and global trade would grind to a halt.  

The ocean is also home to an abundance of life. Coral reefs, salt marshes, estuaries and mangrove and seagrass beds are just a few of the ocean environments which support many different species of organisms – that is, have a high biodiversity. While estimates on the number of species that live in the sea exist, no one knows with absolute certainty what that number is. The number of yet-to-be-discovered creatures living in the sea could easily run into the millions as 95% of the ocean is unexplored. 

The ocean is also a source of fun! Water sports, cruises, deep sea diving, paddling, whale watching are all activities which take place because of the sea. Infact, around 80% of all tourism takes place in coastal areas.  

Turtle

 

In recent decades, however, human activity has had a large and negative impact on the health of our oceans.  Evidence of this has become apparent in areas of coral reef, such as on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.  Tourists damage the coral reef by walking on coral and removing pieces for souvenirs.  Plastic often finds its way into the ocean, and it breaks down into tiny particles called microplastics.  When these tiny particles reach coral reefs, they harm corals by constantly rubbing on them through the action of waves and currents. Corals may also ingest microplastics and get a false sense of “fullness,” which results in the coral not feeding on nutritious food. Within the coral, microplastics may block the gut and cause internal damage.  However, the biggest threat is, of course, climate change. Climate change increases the temperature of the ocean.  If the ocean becomes too hot, corals suffer heat stress.  They expel the microscopic algae that live inside their tissues, revealing their white skeletons. We call this coral bleaching.  Bleached corals are not dead but are more at risk of starvation and disease. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the oceans may be too warm for coral as soon as 2050. 

So, what can be done to help?  International action is needed to fight the threat of climate change and set up protection for our oceans, but we can all do our bit to help.  The BGS (Bury Grammar School) Eco Committee have chosen to focus on the marine environment as one of our themes this year.  We want to increase awareness of the impact we have on the oceans and help others to understand the positive actions they can have.  So, here are the Eco Committee’s five top tips on how to be more ocean friendly at home. 

● Avoid buying or using ocean-harming products: you can do this by looking at the certifications of a product to see whether it is eco-friendly. You can even make your own cleaning products which are non-toxic – there are lots of great recipes online. 

● Conserve water: turn that tap off! Use less water so that we can reduce the amount of wastewater flowing into the ocean. 

● Shop wisely – choose sustainable seafood, buy less plastic (especially single use) and use a reusable, bag for life. 

● Use a reef safe sunscreen.  Two of the most frequently used ingredients in sun cream, oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can harm marine life and coral. This is particularly important if you are holidaying in tropical areas. 

● Keep plastic away from the beach. Leaving waste on the beach means that it is likely to end up in the ocean and harm marine wildlife. 

These are small, sustainable changes which, collectively, will have a large impact on the health of our oceans. And now you know why our oceans are so important to us, it is important that you do your bit for the oceans in return! 

Eco Action