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There is only one global ocean. This is divided into five geographical regions: the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean.
Seventy per cent of our planet is covered by one huge, continuous body of seawater – the ocean. It holds 1.35 billion cubic kilometres of water. Nearly half of the ocean is more than 3 kilometres deep. The deepest known point of the ocean is in the Mariana Trench, 11 kilometres below sea level. But there may be deeper points that we have not seen, as we have only explored five per cent of the ocean to date.
World Oceans Day
The government of Canada suggested the idea of World Oceans Day at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In 2008 the United Nations officially recognised the date and it has been growing ever since, from 100 events in 2008 to over a thousand events in more than 120 countries ten years later. The day is celebrated in a variety of ways, including special events at aquariums and zoos, beach and river clean-ups, school activities, conservation programmes, art contests and film festivals.
The importance of our oceans
One of the main aims of the day is to remind people of the important role the ocean plays in our lives. Life began in the ocean. And the ocean is home to the majority of plants and animals on Earth, from single-cell organisms to the blue whale. Marine plants provide us with 70 per cent of the oxygen we breathe. The ocean controls the climate, providing heat in winter and cool air in summer. It also provides us with food and medicines as well as transport. No matter where you live on the planet, no matter how far from the sea, your life is dependent on the ocean.
The problems facing our oceans
The most urgent problem facing the ocean at the moment is plastic pollution. Reducing one-use plastic, including plastic bags and plastic bottles, has been an important theme for World Oceans Day for a number of years. Climate change and rising sea temperatures are also a huge problem. Rising sea temperatures have a direct influence on weather patterns and are seen as partly responsible for an increase in extreme weather conditions. An increase in carbon dioxide is increasing the acid levels of seawater and putting many marine organisms at risk.
What we can do to help
On World Oceans Day, wear blue, go on a march, find a beach or river clean-up near you, organise a local event, print a poster and put it in your window, or use the hashtag #worldoceansday on social media. There are so many things you can do on 8 June to join in the celebrations, to remind people about the importance of the ocean in our lives and to make a difference!