Reconnecting to our oceanic roots: World Oceans Day gets residents out on the water
by Kendra Hartmann
Published - 06/07/12 - 12:03 PM | 1880 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

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Rising sea levels. The extinction of endangered species. Depleting ozone, ocean acidification and general environmental destruction and despair. The topics that tend to dominate headlines about the state of our planet’s health largely portray an atmosphere of doom and gloom, and it is this attitude that organizers of World Oceans Day want participants to avoid. Sort of.

Though awareness of such devastation is, of course, imperative to finding a solution, World Oceans Day, held every June 8, aims for a decidedly more celebratory angle. The point of the celebration, said Travis Pritchard of San Diego Coastkeeper, is to raise that awareness by encouraging residents to get out and enjoy the ocean in any way they can.

“Here in San Diego, we’re recommending people spend the day on the beach or in the ocean, reconnecting with our coastal resources and reminding themselves of the majesty and amazingness of the ocean,” he said. “It’s a celebration, a party. Even if you just get out for happy hour at a bar somewhere with inspiring pictures of the ocean, we’re celebrating those resources.”

The so-called “Earth Day for the oceans” was created several years ago, and officially recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008. Now celebrated the world over, the festival reconnects people with the ways in which they are affected — and affecting — the oceans and the waterways that travel to them.

“Everything we do inland has an effect on the oceans,” said Pritchard. “Runoff from rivers reaches the ocean, and even for those people who don’t live on the coast, they’re still deeply connected. Pollutants will eventually make it out to the ocean, and we derive a lot of food products from the ocean. It’s also a large carbon dioxide sink and a huge oxygen source.”

San Diegans can connect with the coast through a number of events. On June 8, Coastkeeper will honor coastal champions at a free event at Birch Aquarium. Six environmental leaders — including businesses, organizations and individuals — and their accomplishments in the community will be recognized at a breakfast ceremony, starting at 7:30 a.m. A special ASBS recognition award will go to one winner for efforts to improve the water quality of La Jolla’s areas of special biological significance.

For an ocean celebration with an educational component, Coastkeeper will host a beach cleanup at La Jolla Shores on June 9 from 9 to 11 a.m. Organizers will have supplies on hand, but volunteers should bring their own reusable gloves and reusable bag or bucket.

For those who can’t make it to one of the scheduled events, however, Pritchard suggested making a personal commitment on World Oceans Day.

“Anyone can celebrate the day by making a commitment to change one habit that lessens their impact on the ocean,” he said. “If you can’t come to one of our events, commit to riding bike, using reusable bags, or anything that helps.”

While everyone’s lives are somehow connected to the oceans, Pritchard said, San Diegans have a particular responsibility to show their support for healthy waterways.

“Our oceans and coastal resources, especially in San Diego, are integral not only to the economy, but also to our lifestyle. It’s part of what living in San Diego is about, and if everyone did one thing [to help better the health of the ocean] we would be in a much better place.”

For more information on Coastkeeper’s World Oceans Day events, visit

If you go...

• June 8: Coastal Champions Awards ceremony, Birch Aquarium, 7:30 a.m. Includes light breakfast. To RSVP, email or visit for more information.

• June 9: World Oceans Day Beach Cleanup, La Jolla Shores, 9 a.m. Meet in front of the lifeguard tower in the grassy area. For more information,

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