Today is World Oceans Day. Last year I celebrated by giving away copies of my book Oliver’s Otter Phase since it is about sea otters. This year I got to wondering all the ways one can celebrate something that needs saving. Would we even be having a World Oceans Day if the oceans were healthy and thriving? One would hope humans would cherish something so special, but it seems we often do not until the something is endangered. I’m sure there are many reasons why this conundrum may be, but one reason I think important to consider is how well we really know something, in this case, the oceans.
When we really take time to learn and understand a topic, a person, place or thing, we make connections that are often strong and help us to care deeply, to not take the object of our study for granted. This is why I advocate curriculum that focuses on a student’s immediate environment and communities first, before broadening out into exotic places (unless one’s school is in a rainforest or other such exotic place). It’s hard to ask adults to save something that they did not form deep connections to while young. But once deep connections are made, it is an easier step to extrapolate to other environments or cultures that need our attention.
If you want to celebrate World Oceans Day, by all means you should. It’s a wonderful program with ambitious goals. Perhaps you are already near an ocean or can visit an aquarium. Perhaps you can clean up a beach or tell others about plastic pollution. But if you weren’t aware of World Oceans Day and are not prepared, you can still do something that matters. Go to a library and find a book on a topic that concerns you or is close to you, yet you know little about. Get children interested in an animal in their backyard. Do research and find value in that organism (or culture). You will create connections that have ripple effects beyond what you may predict today. If having a theme to your quest helps with motivation, then get books about the ocean. And next year, you can plan ahead to get involved. We need our oceans and all our ecosystems on Earth to be healthy. They need us to get to know them.