Healthy oceans sustain us. When we’re not near the ocean or watching a vivid nature documentary, it can be easy to forget that. It’s all too easy to move through everyday life and miss that the ocean fills our lungs and spirit. From the clean water we drink to the stable climate we depend on, everything connects back to the marine environment. Our oceans gave birth to all life, and remain home to some of the most incredible animals alive today. To keep the ocean in more people’s minds, we need bigger ways to reach the public. World Oceans Month is one such opportunity, and a great chance to honor our brilliant blue home.
June is World Oceans Month, an annual celebration of our oceans and marine wildlife. In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducts events and outreach this month to engage Americans on ocean issues, such as plastic pollution. As more people engage this pressing issue, we hope that World Oceans Month leads them to other dimensions of marine conservation as well, like the importance of blue parks. Blue parks, or marine protected areas (MPAs), safeguard ocean ecosystems from threats like fishing and oil drilling. By reducing these threats in enough MPAs around the world, we can increase ocean resilience to help mitigate other issues. Ocean ecosystems need this respite from human-induced stress.
Blue parks are a key way to give marine life relief. Creating parks isn’t enough though: they must be strongly protected through effective design and management. The Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES) looks to inspire strong MPAs that can truly save marine wildlife. Its GLORES Accelerator program guides new projects towards the best science, helping to create better blue parks for diverse ocean ecosystems. GLORES gives much-needed kudos to successful MPAs as well, including Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary and its huge shark schools, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park with its rich coral diversity, and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and its many unique species. In raising awareness about the healing effect of ocean protection on marine life, GLORES lifts blue parks from the scientific discourse to mainstream conservation. During World Oceans Month, that awareness can reach new audiences seeking ocean solutions.
To spark better blue parks, we’ve launched a match campaign that will double the support we receive until July 5. More than ever before, ocean wildlife needs our help to recover and thrive. Though the ocean can feel removed from our lives, it’s always present within us. The more we honor its presence, the brighter our blue future will be.