A monk seal swimming over a coral reef bottom. NOAA Photo Library
The world's oceans are vast and boundless, and its spectacular and innumerable diversity of sea creatures and plants may seem immune from human harm. But as U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the United Nations conference on oceans last year, our seas and its inhabitants are "now under threat as never before."
The human footprint has pushed marine species numbers to the "brink of collapse." The constant consumption of plastics has turned our oceans into a dumping ground. And the burning of fossil fuels has fueled ocean heating, leading to dire consequences such as declining oxygen levels in the oceans, coral bleaching and sea level rise.
Today, as we celebrate World Oceans Day, EcoWatch has launched a new vertical to highlight the critical role of our oceans, to feature heroes who work tirelessly to conserve our beautiful and precious marine environments, and to inspire readers to take action to protect our seas.
"Clean water and healthy beaches are vital for our communities, coastal economies, and way of life," Pete Stauffer, the environmental director for the Surfrider Foundation told EcoWatch. "But plastic pollution, offshore oil drilling, rollbacks to federal protections, development and rising tides increasingly threaten our ocean and coasts."
"We each have a stake in taking action to ensure the places where we surf, swim, play and live are protected for this and future generations," he added.
The ocean truly is Earth's most powerful resource. It not only feeds billions of people and contributes $1.5 trillion annually in value-added to the overall economy, it provides 70 percent of the oxygen in the atmosphere.