EARTH: 3rd planet from the sun, known as the ‘blue planet’ because over 70% of its surface area is covered by water, supporting the majority of the life on earth, which is still aquatic.

As humans, we rely on the oceans for food, transport and our weather systems, but our lifestyles are impacting the oceans in a negative way, threatening the survival of virtually every living thing on the planet – including us.

8th June is World Oceans Day, a day where scientists, conservation organisations, individuals and communities around the world come together to celebrate our oceans and find solutions to protect them for the benefit of all. It aims to put pressure on governments and policymakers worldwide to make decisions that are sustainable and protective. This year, there is a focus on conservation action, calling on world leaders to protect 30% of the earth’s land and oceans by the year 2030.

“This critical need is called ’30 x 30’ and gives 10 years to achieve the goal. By safeguarding at least 30% of our land and ocean through a network of highly protected areas, we can help ensure a healthy home for all!”

[World Oceans Day website]

Even in the grip of a world pandemic, we must do everything we can to reduce our impact on the oceans, and nurseries are well-placed to help by reducing our plastic footprint and influencing the ideas and behaviour of the next generation.

Here’s our own “Ocean’s 30” - 3 sets of 10 things related to the ocean:

10 amazing facts

10 pressing problems

10 ways to raise awareness and get involved in World Oceans Day

10 amazing facts about the earth’s ocean

  1. The largest ocean in the world is the Pacific Ocean covering 30% of the earth’s surface area, followed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean
  2. We have only explored about 5% of the world’s oceans so far
  3. The oceans hold about 321 million cubic miles (1.34 billion cubic kilometres) of water
  4. Jellyfish are some of the world’s oldest species, having been in the oceans for more than half a billion years
  5. Earth’s longest chain of mountains, the Mid-Ocean Ridge, is almost entirely beneath the ocean, stretching across a distance of 65,000 kilometres
  6. It’s thought that 70–80% of the oxygen we breathe is produced by marine plants, mostly marine algae
  7. The deepest known area in the ocean is known as the Mariana Trench, which is 11km down at its deepest point
  8. There are more artefacts and remnants of history in the ocean than in all the world’s museums combined
  9. The oceans are made of saltwater and account for 97% of the water on the planet
  10. Tides are caused by the earth rotating on its axis while the gravitational pull of the moon and sun pulls the ocean water

10 problems facing the oceans today

  1. Plastic pollution – plastic is everywhere, and each year, 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans, killing species and entering the food chain
  2. Over-fishing depletes fish stocks and disrupts the food chain
  3. Rubbish – when rubbish is not disposed of properly, much of it ends up in our rivers and oceans; 80% of marine litter started life on land
  4. Unsustainable aquaculture – intensive farming in the oceans can disrupt the ecosystem in the same way that monoculture does on land
  5. Ocean drilling and marine engineering can leak pollutants and damage underwater environments
  6. Climate change alters water pH levels, which is destroying coral reefs and habitats: rising global temperatures cause polar icecaps to melt, increasing sea levels and threatening coastal communities
  7. Raw sewage – you can imagine the problems this brings – including discarded nappies and feminine hygiene products
  8. High levels of mercury pollution are harmful to aquatic life
  9. Unselective fishing methods such as trawling are damaging underwater structures and threatening endangered species
  10. Whaling and shark finning remove top predators and disrupt ocean food chains

10 ways to raise awareness and get involved in World Oceans Day

At the time of writing, some nurseries may still be under lockdown whilst others may be partially or fully open, so we have come up with some ideas that will hopefully be adaptable to your own situation, either in your setting, or to do as virtual activities/things to send home to parents.

  1. Sign the online petition on the World Oceans Day website calling for government action here
  2. Ask children to dress up for the day either as real aquatic creatures or imaginary ones
  3. Watch the film, “Happy Feet” and use it to talk in a child-friendly way about the problems that humans are inflicting on marine life (over-fishing and plastic pollution)
  4. Run a colouring/art competition for children to draw their favourite sea creatures
  5. Use the online plastic pollution calculator and commit to reducing your plastic footprint
  6. Use the hashtags #WorldOceansDay and #ProtectOurHome on your social media accounts to spread the word and raise awareness of ocean conservation
  7. Create a fishy mobile to hang in your window or create a seascape mural
  8. Teach some sea shanties, such as “The big ship sails on the ally-ally-O” or “A sailor went to sea, sea, sea”. You can find some great resources including teacher notes, songs and music on the BBC website here.
  9. Check out the official website for events that are running – although there are not too many gatherings for obvious reasons, there are still art and sewing competitions based on an oceans theme
  10. Educate your staff and parents on plastic recycling – not all plastics are recyclable so why not check around your setting/home to see if you are really recycling everything you can. See here for more information on recycling, as many of us are still ‘wishcycling’ which is when we optimistically put non-recyclable objects in recycling bins which can potentially contaminate the entire lot

We hope you enjoy our ‘Ocean’s 30’ and remember, if we don’t do something to affect change, however small, who will?


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