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Celebrating our oceans

We must educate ourselves on how to respect, preserve and save our wonderful blue planet. Photo: Hannes Klostermann

Today is World Oceans Day (Saturday 8 June). Salvos Online journalist LERISSE SMITH writes about her love of the ocean, its role in her wellbeing and the need to protect it from the impacts of climate change and pollution.



I have always loved the ocean and the captivating beauty that lies beneath the waves.


And below the canopy of a beautiful South African ocean kelp forest, a wondrous story about a special encounter with an octopus taught me a profound lesson in life.


While watching the outstanding documentary My Octopus Teacher, I couldn’t help but be deeply moved as filmmaker and diver Craig Foster forged an incredible and unexpected friendship underwater with a beautiful octopus whilst the animal shared the mysteries of her sea world. 


It was a profound life lesson in humility, about how spectacular this creature lives and dies, and about how the oceans are intrinsically interwoven, where we need each other to survive on this planet. Furthermore, it was a vital reminder about the importance of respecting and preserving the majesty of the sea – a topic close to my heart.


I grew up in Australia where I had the privilege of being surrounded by stunning coastal waters. From an early age, I have treasured exploring both above and below the stunning beauty of the blue planet and all creatures, great and small, who call it home. 


Preserving a natural wonder

To observe what lies beneath is truly an exhilarating feeling, especially when your eyes set upon a vast array of breathtaking sights such as colourful reefs and extraordinary marine life of all sorts, enriched through a camera lens. The oneness I feel with the ocean plays an essential role in nurturing my overall wellbeing.


With its innate purity and ability to provide solace and a sacred place to pray, the sea always draws me close to God. It compels me to not only care for His magnificent creation but forever embrace its vastness and depth with immense respect, wonder and awe. 

And with the theme of this year’s United Nations (UN) World Oceans Day on 8 June being ‘Awaken New Depths’, there is never a greater time than now to delve deep into how we can all play a part in honouring and preserving the natural wonder that covers around two-thirds of our planet’s surface. To awaken new depths of understanding, compassion, collaboration, and commitment to the ocean that sustains humanity and all life on earth.


Understanding our ocean is essential to our future, yet its depths are still mostly unexplored. We know more about outer space than we do about the ocean. And while we know little compared to its immense vastness, what we do know is that the consequences of our actions are evident throughout its waters. Human activity is increasingly causing devastation from overfishing and the effects of climate change to habitat destruction, oil and plastic pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles, whales, and sharks.


Education the key

Positive change can happen – but we must educate ourselves on how to respect, preserve and save our wonderful blue planet. A wide assortment of oceanic websites, films, campaigns and documentaries such as The Blue Planet by David Attenborough to a plethora of oceanic websites, campaigns, films, documentaries, and interviews to inspire, educate and call us to action can be the start plus supporting and/or championing marine conservation organisations and those dedicated to preserving the world’s oceans.

For book enthusiasts, Deep Water, the world in the ocean, by Australian author James Bradley, is a great testament to the beauty, mystery and wonder of the ocean. Weaving together science, history and personal experience, it offers vital new ways of understanding, not just humanity’s relationship with the planet, but our past and future.


Let us not underestimate the power of simple actions – recycle, reuse, and reduce. Next time you’re at the beach (the therapeutic benefits are well documented!), look down and pick up. Invariably, you’ll find discarded beach gear, plastics and rubbish that need not to end up in the ocean. Love seafood? Eating responsibly sourced fish wherever possible can be yet another positive action.


United together, we can all join the global movement to save our oceans and protect this vast, irreplaceable ecosystem that is our planet’s life support system – for our precious waters warrant nothing less. 



Explore the latest ocean-related stories, resources and videos from the World Oceans Day community on the UN World Oceans Day website:


In celebration of the 2024 theme Awaken New Depths, the United Nations are joining forces with global policy-makers, scientists, managers, thought leaders, and artists to showcase how our relationship to the ocean needs to urgently change and that in order to motivate widespread momentum for the ocean, we need to awaken new depths. A free virtual livestream event accessible worldwide will run on Friday, June 7, to promote global engagement with vital ocean education. It is hosted by the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs (DOALOS) in partnership with Oceanic Global. Information on the website.










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