By Lauri deGaris
In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly officially recognized June 8 as World Ocean Day. Festivals and beach clean-ups now occur each year on this day. Initiatives are proposed and projects launched aimed to protect the ocean for future generations. And, stories are shared honoring our collective earthly mother, the ocean.
Before World Ocean Day was born, The World Ocean Observatory came to life as an interactive virtual observation site for ocean-related information. In 2003, the World Ocean Observatory launched its mission advocating for the health and sustainability of the ocean. Through education, partnership, public connection, and relentless communications, the observatory has built a global community promoting ocean conservation for the future of our children.
World Ocean Observatory programs contribute to global conservation in many ways. Their website is a beacon of ocean awareness. The World Ocean Radio, hosted by Peter Neill is one of my favorite ocean-related resources. This 5-minute weekly broadcast dives into ocean science, advocacy, and education. Each episode offers perspectives about global ocean issues and proposed solutions. Best of all, it is free to community radio stations, worldwide. A catalog of all 680 episodes arranged by theme can be found here.
Other resources available from The World Ocean Observatory include: “World Ocean Forum, fresh ideas, new solutions and imaginative conversations about the future of the ocean; World Ocean Curriculum Catalog, education materials for teachers; World Ocean Explorer, a virtual aquarium project; World Ocean Videos, a variety of engaging, thoughtful and relevant, original content; and World Ocean Publications, provocative books about the ocean.” You can browse the entire World Ocean Observatory website here.
Despite human efforts to protect the ocean for all species that depend upon her, we have yet to succeed. Billions of dollars cast upon the sea yield limited success. Treaties, coalitions, science, laws, religion, festivals, nothing has managed to stop us from fouling the very thing that supports life for all. The ocean remains in decline, unable to sustain increasing future demands. How did we allow ourselves to sink into the dark abyss of pollution and resource depletion? When did we sever our spiritual connection with nature?
The ocean provides us with a place to recreate and re-create. Time spent by the seashore refreshes the soul. Lingering along the tideline resets body rhythm to match that of our surroundings. By focusing on the beauty and joy of the natural world, one finds peace within. And, when we have peace within, we naturally shine and others take note. We need many beacons of light to shine for our children and grandchildren to follow.
I am an oceanic literary lover. I feel the lunar pull of tides beckoning exploration into maritime legends. I long for a life by the sea. And, I am forever grateful for the gift of living life by the sea. On days that I am unable to linger along the shoreline or sail upon the water, I seek the comfort of poetry. There is one nautical poem that reaches the unfathomable depth of my soul. And, I must read and re-read it often, especially if I am unable to be by the sea for an extended period. The poem is titled “Sea-Fever” by John Masefield.
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and sky.
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song, and the white sail’s shaking,
And the grey mist on the sea’s face and grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the brown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
In honor of World Ocean Day this year, pledge to spend 5 minutes listening to a World Ocean Radio broadcast, weekly. Reflect upon the images of artist Ray Collins “The Infinite Seascapes.” Journey through the History of Oceanography. Dive into Mami Wata: Art for Water Spirits, Africa and its Diasporas. These resources are available on the World Ocean Observatory website and free for all. May we all remember our connection to Mother Ocean with gratitude and share that with our children. Happy World Ocean Day!
Note: Sea-Fever by John Masefield is in the Public Domain