On the third Monday of each July, Japan celebrates the wonders of the ocean in a festival called Umi no Hi, or Marine Day. Umi no Hi is the first national holiday of the Japanese summer and celebrates the end of tsuyu, or the rainy season. The celebration raises awareness of the importance of the sea, and more recently, the devastating effects of climate change, plastic waste and pollution.
The world’s oceans quite rightly need to be celebrated. Not only do they provide us with food and recreational activities, they regulate our climate, and provide more than half of the oxygen we breathe. They also provide outstanding beauty and breathtakingly beautiful panoramas.
But they’re in trouble. The list, according to National Geographic, of threats to our oceans doesn’t make light, easy or pretty reading. They include global climate change, pollution, habitat destruction, invasive species and a dramatic decrease in ocean fish stocks. So dreadful are these threats, that not one area of the world’s oceans has been untouched by these devastating threats and over 40% of our oceans have been severely affected.
72% of Planet Earth is covered by ocean, yet less than 2% of it is protected. Compare that to 12% of land being protected and we can see how much trouble the oceans are in. Given that they provide the oxygen for every other breath we take, we could be in trouble too.
This blog post isn’t meant to upset you, because we’re upset writing it and we know how terrible it feels. It’s instead meant to help spread awareness of the impact we humans are having on the oceans. And it we don’t act now, who knows what the future of humankind looks like. We’ve already lost 20% of our coral reefs and 90% of all the big fish species.
Around the world, there are communities that place high historical or cultural significance on the oceans. Communities that rely on them for trade, a living and their only source of food. Many hold sacred connection to the oceans whilst others have a spiritual connection.
All of us depend on the oceans for water and air, and directly or indirectly for food. It’s also a transport system and a mysterious hub of tales, history and mythical creatures that have entertained us for millennia.
Anyone who’s ever swam in the sea, felt their toes in the warm sand, built a sandcastle as a child or felt the embrace of a lover’s kiss as the sun sets on a day at the beach will know that the ocean is a magical place. A place to look wistfully out at, or a place to set your questions, intentions, hopes and dreams free.
We’re so in awe of the sea, and physically and emotionally upset by the risks threatening the oceans right now. So we donate $1 to Plastic Bank for each Ytsara product bought. Plastic Bank help to recover plastics from the world’s oceans and build ethical recycling ecosystems in coastal communities around the world.
How will you pay tribute to the oceans this year?