The United Nations has designated 8th June as World Oceans Day, a day for humanity to celebrate the ocean in all its glory! Oceans feed us, regulate our climate, and generate most of the oxygen we breathe. Despite their importance, oceans are facing unprecedented threats as a result of human activity.
The theme for this year is” The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods”, a subject that Global Action is very familiar with, and one we cover in our Global Learning Programmes across several destinations….
A key part of Global Action’s Zanzibar programme is the opportunity to take part in observational reef surveys while snorkelling on several of the spectacular coral reefs that surround the island. As well as being stunning environments to explore, these living ecosystems are critically important.
Coral reefs are home to 25% of all marine life on the planet. Yet, roughly one-quarter of coral reefs worldwide are already considered damaged beyond repair, with another two-thirds under serious threat.
Tanzania and Zanzibar are serious about protecting their coral reefs – not only have they banned blast fishing, they are also actively going about restoring highly degraded coral reefs. This involves growing nursery reared coral transplants in areas with highly degraded reefs. So far this project of active restoration has ensured they have been able to successfully restore about 5,000 meters squared of degraded coral reef since July 2016 when the project started.
Coral reefs in Zanzibar are a vital part of everyday life: supporting fisheries which provide food and income for local people, protecting coastal communities and beaches from storms, and fixing carbon from the atmosphere helping to slow down climate change.
Coral reefs and ocean health are also vital for Global Action’s partner organizations in Zanzibar, such at the Paje Women’s Seaweed Centre. Seaweed farming is the second biggest industry in Zanzibar (behind tourism), and the seaweed farmed here is used for making soap, shampoos, medicines, and export to Japanese restaurants. The female seaweed farmers who work here have had the opportunity to improve their livelihoods through this novel farming practice, all thanks to the ocean.
The Archelon Sea Turtle Rescue Centre, a rehab facility for sea turtles is one of the many marine organisations Global Action works with.
The Rescue Centre’s main functions are to receive, treat and rehabilitate injured and sick sea turtles, then release them back to the wild – all while raising public awareness of their work and the threats these incredible animals face.
Archelon also runs a field programme that Global Action students get involved with. Groups see first-hand what is being done to protect loggerhead sea turtles by Archelon and the Sea Turtle Protection Society as well as having discussions around sustainable tourism, issues of micro plastics, waste management and conservation which link to several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Global Action continues to support the aims both Ocean Day and the SDG’s in Costa Rica, taking part in an impactful Sea Turtle Conservation Project. Here they learn about the threats to sea turtle species and how Costa Rica is trying to provide a safe haven not only for turtles but for all marine life.
Olive Ridley Sea Turtles nest on the beaches in the area – classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – so conservation efforts along this coast are extremely important. One of the last groups to travel to Costa Rica with Global Action were even lucky enough to release 84 turtle hatchings into the wild!
Whilst in Costa Rica, Global Action teams also participate in a beach flag programme overseen by a local charity. They get involved in a beach clean, learning why beach pollution is so harmful, and the negative impact of microplastic.
Not only does the beach clean help to keep the ocean safe and health, but the local community have also found a way to make some money by creating and setting up their own small scale recycling system – taking materials from the beach clean to a local recycle depot and work with a firm who processes the recycling into alternative products and are sold globally (including for H&M’s Conscious Exclusive Collection!).
In celebration and support of the life and livelihood that the ocean sustains, UNWOD 2021 will feature keynotes, panel discussions and presentations that spotlight biodiversity, latest oceanic discoveries, the interconnectivity between the ocean and its ecosystems, and more.
For more info check out the official website: worldoceanday.org/
If you want to know more about running a Global Action trip with an ocean theme, please get in touch with Georgia – email@example.com