“Raising environmental awareness among children is one of the most powerful actions we can undertake” – Explorer, environmentalist, educator, and film producer, Jean-Michel Cousteau)
June 8th is observed annually as World Oceans Day – a day dedicated to the blue heart of our planet. The aim of this global event is to pique people’s understanding about the importance of a healthy marine environment. The day is marked around the world in a variety of different ways, including innovative ocean campaigns and conservation initiatives, aquatic and beach clean-ups, educational programs and much more. Many of these events are geared towards educating the youth: the beneficiaries and future custodians of our natural world!
There is a much anthologised quote by Baba Dioum that states that “In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.” There is no doubt that knowledge is power and can lead to positive shifts and bring about positive environmental actions. This is why the Knysna Basin Project, together with Ocean Odyssey, (both fierce local advocates for estuary and ocean health), took this annual event as a perfect opportunity to create awareness among our local youth and to encourage dialogue about the serious plight of plastic in our oceans. The message to our youth is simple: the overall health of our oceans play a crucial role in the survival of all species, including humans, and that our everyday individual lifestyle choices impact hugely on our oceans.
The theme for this year’s World Oceans Day was ‘Our Oceans, Our Future’ and children from Oakhill School and the Eco-Clubs from Knysna Primary and Knysna Secondary School were tasked with coming up with solutions to the litter problem in Knysna, because the plastic litter that does not end up in our landfills, sadly ends up in the ocean. Those students who took the time to really consider how we as individuals impact our planet and those that came up with the best solutions were awarded an Eco-Marine Tour with Ocean Odyssey. The student with the best essay was Veda Vosloo from Oakhill, who won the prize of a marine-themed goody bag from the Ocean Odyssey retail store.
World Oceans Day took place this year during the devastating Knysna fires and the trip planned with the school children was therefore postponed. But, alas, everyday is Oceans Day for us, so the trip was rescheduled and on the 30th June. Before their trip, the group of students gathered at the Ocean Odyssey offices for some eco-banter with Louw Claasens, a passionate marine biologist from the Knysna Basin Project. She chatted to the kids about their daily single-use plastic habits, strongly urging them all to think twice before using them. Once aboard they were taken across the estuary and out through the Knysna Heads. They all shrieked with delight as we navigated the swells and headed out into the heaving big blue. During the course of the trip the skipper provided the children with insight into the fascinating world of marine wildlife which can be found along our coastline, telling interesting tales about our wonderful whales, dolphins and pelagic birds. During the trip we were very lucky to encounter a small group of rare Indian Ocean humpback dolphins feeding close to the Knysna Heads.
The kids had a great time out on the water and our hope is that each one of them came away from this experience with a greater reverence for the natural world and a stronger desire to help protect it!
Be the change you want to see in the world kids!!
WHY we need to protect our oceans!!
* Oceans cover more 71 percent of the planet and hosts up to 80 percent of life on earth.
* Oceans absorb about 25 percent of all human carbon emissions. When carbon dioxides dissolves in seawater, it forms carbonic acid, which leads to water acidification.
* Rising sea temperatures are expected to slash catches of main fish species by 40 percent by 2050.
* Oceans could contain more plastics than fish by 2050.
* Almost 90 percent of fish stocks are overfished or fully exploited.