Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet: World Oceans Day

It can be easy to get lost in all the hundreds of national and global holidays (especially ones like Strawberry Ice Cream Day, National Napping Day, and Hot Sauce Day), but we want to make sure you don’t miss one that is near and dear to our hearts here at Kraken and Friends…World Oceans Day!

wod-2017World Oceans Day was first proposed by Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and the United Nations officially began recognizing June 8th as World Oceans Day in 2008. There are hundreds of planned events around the world including: community beach cleanups, a variety of educational programs highlighting threats to and changes happening in our marine environment, and pledge drives to encourage limiting the personal use of single use plastic bags. If you’re interested in getting involved of planning your own event, click here for more info.

One of the things we love most about World Oceans Day is its emphasis on tackling marine pollution, specifically plastics. Plastics are a daily part of our lives, from grocery bags to plastic utensils to our computers to our cars. Unfortunately, much of plastic we encounter is single use, meaning that once we’ve finished eating our salads, those forks and knives get tossed. Ultimately, a lot of this plastic ends up in our oceans. So much, in fact, that in just a few years, we could end up with a pound of plastic for every three pounds of fish.

That’s an incredible amount of plastic in our oceans!

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Plastic marine debris as seen from below in Hawai’i (Source: noaa.gov)

Here are some more pretty sobering facts about plastics in our oceans:

  1. Every year, 28 billion pounds of plastic ends up in our ocean!
  2. The second deadliest form of ocean trash is plastic bags and utensils. 

  3. Plastic was found in more than 25% of fish sampled from seafood markets around the world.
  4. According to NOAA, plastic debris kills an estimated 100,000 marine mammals annually.
  5. Approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide each year.
  6. Over the last ten years, we have produced more plastic than during the entire previous century.
  7. bus_poster4
    Laysen albatross chick with a stomach full of plastic (Source: noaa.gov)

    7 billion plastic beverage bottles were sold in the U.S. in 2014. This comes out to 315 bottles per person! More than half of these bottles were plastic water bottles.

  8. 80% of the plastic pollution in our oceans originates from just FIVE countries.
  9. Fish in the North Pacific ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year.
  10. Nearly all Laysan albatross chicks, almost 98%, have plastic pieces in their stomachs.

This might seem overwhelming, but don’t get discouraged! Awareness is growing and there are scores of people working to address the challenge of plastics in our oceans. So, what can YOU do to help reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans?? Below are a few simple, easy things you can do on a daily basis:

  • Say NO to plastic straws.
  • Bring your own utensils instead of using single use plastic utensils.
  • Use reusable shopping bags.
  • Use a reusable water bottle.
  • Use a reusable coffee mug.
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle!
  • Avoid products with microbeads.
  • Do a 5 min beach-sweep next time you head out on the beach!
  • Choose package-free goods or those with biodegradable packaging.
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A successful beach clean-up by a team of NOAA employees. (Source: noaa.gov)

Adopting these habits, and encouraging your friends and family to adopt these habits, will make a difference!

For more information on plastic pollution in our oceans and to learn more about efforts to stem marine debris, you can visit any one of the following sites and check out the graphic below:

 

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Marine plastics 101 (Source: seachangeproject.eu)

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