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Ocean Restoration and Youth Empowerment

"The ocean is like this blanket that we have to peer underneath to really know what is happening" - Marina College's Molly Timmer.

Earth's oceans are Mother Nature's most precious gift, and it's impossible to explore the exact number of underwater species that live there. Ocean researchers and scientists believe 2.2 million marine species exist in our oceans.

However, the climate crisis impacts marine species and the twilight zone. Also, if greenhouse gas emissions aren't cured, recovery could take thousands of years. But we all can protect underwater life and save our planet together!

What is Marine Life?

Marine life refers to all the living animals, plants, and organisms in Earth’s saltwater seas and oceans. Everything from small plankton to the largest animal on Earth (blue whale) - plays a significant role in balancing our planet. For example:

  • Coral Reefs: They are colorful, diverse, and home to millions of marine species across the planet. It provides a natural barrier to the power of the ocean and protects coastal communities from extreme weather events (tsunamis), and food chains.

  • Ocean Fishes: Tunas, anchovies, sardines, mackerels, and more.

  • Marine mammals: Dolphins, whales, seals, otters, manatees, and more.

  • Sea turtles and reptiles: Green sea turtles, hawksbill sea turtles, and more.

  • Cephalopods, crustaceans, and shellfish: Crabs, cuttlefishes, shrimps, squids, and more.

  • Sea birds: Penguins, albatrosses, puffins, fish eagles, and more.

Coral Reefs Restoration Technology: Origins and Impact on Ocean Health

Coral reefs are ecosystems made of limestone from coral polyps. They are compared to the rainforests of the sea because they are home to about 25% of marine species.

Dr. David Vaughan - the founder of the Plant a Million Corals Foundation. He had pioneered his technology to grow corals in greenhouses. And he was doing this to grow these corals for the aquarium trade, for home aquarium trade.

Plant a million corals dr david vaughan

However, several coral reef restoration technologies include coral gardening, transplantation, and assisted evolution. All these key focus is to -

  • Improve water quality,

  • Increase coral resistance to stressors, and

  • Promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms to support coral health.

Other coral reef restoration methods are micro-fragmentation, artificial reefs, and genetic diversity in coral larvae.

As you know, they provide at least 25% marine species shelter, and other benefits are:

  • CO2 control: Coral reefs save oceans by controlling carbon dioxide and protecting marine life.

  • Protection: They protect coasts from waves, storms, and floods and prevent loss of life and property damage.

  • Water filtration: They are nature’s water filtration system and can’t exist in polluted waters.

In the next section, we will examine how plastic waste accounts for 80% of all marine pollution!

Ocean Pollution: How Plastic Destroys Ocean Health

Around 17% of the ocean species are affected by plastic. It becomes a global crisis day after day or harms more than 300,000 marine animals each year.

Microplastics, for example, and the recognition of nanoplastics. So, for a long time, people considered plastic to be eye sore, and then they started to appreciate that plastic never goes away.

Plastic Pollution: Key Facts

  • Ocean researchers state that plastic will outweigh all sea fishes by 2050.

  • Day after day, plastic products are increasing compared to the previous century.

  • Plastics aren't biodegradable; they are photodegradable. That means they take 500-1000 years to degrade and become microplastics, which never fully degrade.

Other marine life hazards are:

  • Tiny pieces of plastic look like plankton, so they are eaten by many marine species in the ocean.

  • They soak plastics, and the toxins contained in their bodies, including fish and foods that people eat, and then those toxins are transferred to humans.

  • In our food web, they've found plastics in the bloodstream of newborn children and cause the blood-brain barrier, full of endocrine disruptors, hormone disruptors, and carcinogenic cancer.

  • Plastic bags pollute the environment, our bodies, and our communities.

  • A study found that sear turtles that ingest 14 pieces of plastic have an increased risk of death.

  • Every year, plastic waste kills around a million seabirds.

According to the Oceanic Society, an estimated 4 to 12 million metric tons of plastic flows into the ocean yearly. That could cover every inch of the coastline worldwide.

Innovative Solutions to Protect and Restore Ocean Planet

  • Plastic-free earth: Prohibit plastics and urge companies to provide consumers with plastic alternatives.

  • Reduce carbon footprint: CO2 or greenhouse gas makes our ocean more acidic. We can use public transportation to eliminate our carbon footprint, turn off lights when we leave a room, walk or ride a bike, and more.

  • Avoid ocean-harming products: We can avoid jewelry made of coral or sea turtle shells, cosmetics that contain shark squalene, and others.

  • Deep sea robots: These robots can collect pollution data of the ocean so that we can take proper steps.

Earth Echo International is building a global youth movement around plastic, actually with youth leaders in the Midwest. The movement focuses on the Great Lakes and innovative solutions to these problems.

Earth Echo International

Are you curious to explore more? Check out the next section now!

EarthEcho International: How it Engages Youth in Environmental Science and Stewardship

Philippe Cousteau is a TV host, author, and entrepreneur. He is dedicated to igniting positive change and solving global, social, and environmental challenges. His grandfather states that no one can build environmental sustainability without building human sustainability.

From this emerged the idea of EarthEcho, which invites youth to lead their communities in restoring and protecting native species and ecosystems.

The key objectives of this program are:

  • Taking action to protect our planet's ecosystems.

  • Empowering youth to become environmental stewards.

In addition, the program encourages active engagement in techniques, such as the replanting of mangroves, seagrass beds, and coral reefs, to accelerate the ocean's renewal. However, Earth Echo International focused on what we realized was the major shortcoming in the environmental movement: building a society that cares about and understands these issues and acts accordingly.

What About the OurEcho Challenge?

OurEcho Challenge is a national STEM competition that empowers youth to examine biodiversity in their communities. It is also held in Australia and the UK.

Our eco challenge

It's a competition for young people 13 to 16 years old, challenging them to investigate problems related to biodiversity in their communities and create solutions to those problems.

The Mission is to build a global youth movement to restore and protect the ocean.

They had teams that submitted programs around ideas to increase pollinators in their communities, such as composting food, expanding renewable energy, and other cool concepts.

Then, the top three winning teams are selected and receive prices:

  • Third ($1,000),

  • Second ($2,500) and

  • First ($5,000)

The competition's main goal is to inspire and give young people the opportunity and resources to transform their communities.

FAQs about Ocean Restoration

What are the most critical conservation challenges facing our planet today?

Ocean acidification is the most critical conservation challenge facing our planet today.

What does G20 stand for?

The G20 stands for Group of 20 and is an intergovernmental forum consisting of 19 sovereign countries, the European Union, and, most recently, the African Union. It addresses global economic issues such as financial stability, sustainable development, and climate change.

What does benthic refer to?

Benthic is stuff at the bottom of the sea. The animals and plants there are called benthos.

What's an example of a successful method of coral reef protection?

Many methods are available to protect coral reefs, such as coral transplantation, coral gardening, artificial reef structures, biorock, and coral nurseries.

Why are coral reefs high-biodiversity ecosystems?

Coral reefs have high-biodiversity ecosystems because of their abundant microhabitats, high levels of nutrients, sunlight, and warm temperatures.

Final Verdict

Our oceans are the best home for a vast array of species and the well-being of our planet. However, year after year, ocean health and productivity are under threat due to climate change and human activities. The major challenges in ocean ecosystems are overfishing, efforts in coral reef conservation, plastics, and more.

After the end of the podcast - Ocean Restoration and Youth Empowerment, we aim to protect our ocean and its living creatures by proactively securing a sustainable future for all.

Follow We The Children on Apple Podcasts, or review your podcasts. And, remember, We The Children have the power to make a difference for our planet.

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