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Earthwatch Institute Celebrates World Oceans through Research Projects To Which You Can Contribute

Two thirds of the earth's surface is covered by oceans. It hardly seems fair that the world’s oceans are celebrated for only one day, but at least it’s a start. June 8th was designated World Oceans Day in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to bring attention to ocean conservation issues. Earthwatch Institute continues to celebrate world oceans all year with marine conservation projects around the world. Earthwatch Institute engages people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment. There are about 130 projects currently under way that you can get involved with, about 20 of them in ocean research.

Although about 12 percent of the Earth’s land surface is now under some form of conservation designation, much less that 1 percent of the sea is protected. If you are into percentages, here’s another staggering one: 90 percent of the world’s big ocean fish – tuna, sharks, billfish -- have disappeared, according to a ten-year study published in May 2003 in the journal Nature. Our oceans, which we once saw as never-ending sources of bounty, are rapidly becoming overwhelmed by unsustainable fishing practices, coastal development, pollution, and climate change.

The world is just starting to realize that the oceans are not infinite. As exploitation levels continue to rise, productivity continues to drop. If we’re going to save the oceans, we need to stop thinking of them piecemeal—we need to start thinking of them as finite continuous resources which need to be considered as a whole.

More than $500 billion of the world’s economy is tied to ocean-based industries such as coastal tourism and shipping, and we rely on the ocean for global climate control and a significant portion of our daily protein. Next time you are on the beach, or enjoying some of the ocean’s bountiful resources, make a pledge to celebrate ocean conservation every day. Better yet, consider one of Earthwatch’s more than 20 ocean-related research projects. Click here for more information.

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