Today on the 8th of June is World Ocean Day. On this day we celebrate the beauty of the oceans and biodiverse plants and animals that inhabit the sea. At the same time, this day reminds us that it takes our effort to conserve the health and beauty of our blue planet.
With the ocean’s surface covering more than 70% of the planet, it becomes clear that concerns about the climate have a bearing on the ocean as well. In other words, there is a distinct interconnectedness that permeates all living organisms and ecosystems on Earth.
This idea is also reflected in this year’s theme for the World Ocean Day: “The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods”. As humans we are dependent on the ocean in many different ways. From an economic standpoint, it ensures the livelihood of many people who work in ocean-based industries. From an environmental perspective, the ocean is directly linked to global warming, acting as a buffer for rising temperatures as well as being a main source of oxygen production and carbon dioxide reduction.
In view of this, I wanted to create an illustration about marine pollution and highlight our dependence on nature and its ecosystems. While researching about ocean pollution, I found that an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the oceans each year. So I incorporated heavy debris that sink into the oceans’ depths as well as single-use plastics that also float on the surface, or chemical pollutants and so called “ghost nets” from the fishing industry.
Through this painting I wanted to highlight some of the different environmental questions and concerns for which many young people around the globe have actively advocated for in recent years. Children and youth are raising awareness and encouraging individuals and societies to rethink lifestyles and ways of industrial production, with the help of long-term perspectives. When we think about the coexistence of humans, other living organisms and the environment, a complex network and our interdependence become visible. This can help in understanding how a shift towards sustainable production methods as well as sustainable consumption behaviours are not only advantageous for nature, but also essential for our own future.
- Almost half of our planet’s species are found in the ocean, including the largest animal on earth, the blue whale
- Over 50% of the oxygen production on our planet originates from the ocean. Phytoplankton, which are single celled plants that live on the surface of oceans, play a vital role in this oxygen production via photosynthesis
- More than 80% of the ocean remains unexplored and unmapped by humans
- An estimated 80 - 90% of deep-ocean animals are “bioluminescent”, which means they create their own light