June 8 is World Oceans Day, but what’s the big deal with celebrating our oceans? Well for starters, oceans make up 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and support around 50 percent of all species. They provide vital environmental services, and they’ve absorbed almost half of the carbon dioxide we’ve emitted since the industrial revolution. But now they are becoming more acidic, which isn’t good for many marine creatures. Generally, then, we’ve polluted, over-fished, and taken these vastly unexplored bodies of water for granted, and it’s only fair that we take a day to recognize all they do for us!
World Oceans Day has been celebrated informally since 1992 and was officially designated by the United Nations in 2008. Since then this global celebration has been coordinated by The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network and is growing in popularity every year.
There are a variety of exciting activities taking place here in the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday, June 8, as well as during the weekends before and after, so there’s plenty of opportunity to celebrate and help protect our oceans. Here are some World Oceans Day events in or near the Bay Area.
Aquarium of the Bay
“The focus of our Oceans Day celebration will be the impact of marine debris on the Bay and greater ocean habitats,” says Kati Schmidt of San Francisco’s Aquarium of the Bay. There will be events throughout the day on June 8, staring with a beach cleanup from 9 to 10:30 am at Aquatic Park and free tickets to the aquarium for participants. Following the cleanup, people of all ages can explore the effects of marine debris on ocean life through guided walks to collect plankton, examination of albatross stomach contents, and haiku writing to celebrate the ocean.
If you work during the week, check out the World Oceans Day celebrations at the Aquarium of the Bay the following weekend, June 9 to 12. The weekend will be jam-packed with hands-on events exploring the relationships between marine debris and turtles, albatrosses, plankton, and sea lions.
California Academy of Sciences
On June 8 at 12 pm, the academy will broadcast a “Live Dive from the Channel Islands,” a video focusing on ocean conservation with a diver off the Channel Islands (watch the video on or after June 8 at http://www.calacademy.org/sciencetodayz). Also on June 8, at 1:30 pm, the academy’s Dr. Wallace Nichols will give a lecture on his sea turtle research and ocean conservation work as part of the Chat with an Academy Scientist program.
And on June 9 from 6 to 10 pm, the weekly 21-and-over NightLife gathering will be dedicated to World Oceans Day. In addition to the academy’s exhibits, live music, entertainment, and cocktails, the event will feature experts on ocean conservation and plastic pollution, a performance by the renowned dance troupe Capacitor, and ocean-themed videos from KQED.
The California Academy of Sciences is also part of two other projects:
On June 2, listen live to the BLUEMiND Summit, top neuroscientists and ocean experts discussing the interconnections between our minds and the ocean. What goes on in the brain when we are close to the ocean? Why are people willing to pay huge sums of money to live or vacation near the ocean? What can the ocean teach us about our brains? Listen to the live broadcast from 9 am to 5 pm on June 2 at www.justin.tv/calacademy or mindandocean.org.
Or Wallace Nichols’ BlueGame at www.BlueMarbles.org. Log onto the website, buy some blue marbles, share them with people you think are helping our oceans, and ask them to pass them on in the same way. Over a million blue marbles are in circulation, each symbolizing how much of our planet is covered by oceans and how important it is to protect them. The goal is to pass a blue marble through the hands of every person on Earth.
“Everything connects back to the ocean, but people don’t think about it that way. The food we eat, the air we breathe, the climate, and even people’s emotions all connect to the ocean. We live on an ocean planet that looks just like a small blue marble from one million miles away.” says Dr. Wallace Nichols, marine biologist and co-founder of the Blue Marbles Project.
Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association
The sanctuary association celebrates world oceans every day of the year, but during the entire month of June there will be special World Oceans events. They’re kicking off the month with an ACCESS research cruise to gauge the health of ocean life surrounding the Bay Area. You can follow research results daily on their Facebook page.
On June 11, the Gulf of the Farallones Visitor Center at Crissy Field in San Francisco will offer a Creature Feature program for 4- to 8-year-olds and their families exploring what Mary Jane Schramm of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association calls “one of the gnarliest animals in the sanctuary,” the elephant seal. On June 18 and 25 (10 am-12 pm or 1-3 pm), visitors of all ages can learn about the intriguing lives of squid (at at Cephapalooza on June 18) and salmon (at Salmonopolis June 25) with films, naturalist-led dissections, games, and printmaking.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
This famous site in Monterey is going all out on June 4 and 5 to celebrate World Oceans Day. The aquarium’s family-friendly weekend will include sustainable seafood tasting, student film screenings, family crafts, bilingual programs, and a plethora of musical performances and presentations all informed by the aquarium’s overarching mission to inspire conservation of the oceans.
“When people are thinking about conservation, they’re not thinking about what goes on beneath the waves,” says Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Alison Barratt. “We want to engage people and make them think about how the choices we make every day have an impact on the ocean.”
Save Our Shores
On June 8 in Monterey, Save Our Shores will kick off its summer beach cleanup activities with a 5-7 pm happy hour offering appetizers, wine, beer, and information about ongoing advocacy and cleanup events. You can help Save Our Shores with regular beach cleanups in June and July as well as “star spangled” public education and beach cleanup activities on July 4 and 5.
On Saturday, June 11, celebrate sharks at Crissy Field with Sea Stewards. From 3-8 pm, help clean up the beach, build a shark sandcastle, watch a film, or take in some live music.