In honor of World Ocean Day Tuesday, an organization in South Florida launched a virtual campaign to highlight the valuable work being conducted around the world to protect and preserve our world oceans. The goal is to educate and engage people in marine conservation.
Scientists estimate 50-80% of the oxygen production on earth comes from the ocean, so why don’t we take care of it?
"Every second breath that we take in our existence, comes from the ocean. It comes from the plants that live in the ocean," said Meredith Bass, program director at Blue Scholars Initiative.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, eight million metric tons of plastic enter our ocean every year, that's the equivalent weight of about 57,000 blue whales.
To educate South Floridians in marine conservation, Meredith and the co-founder of Blue Scholars Adam Steckley, got together in 2019 to start the Blue Scholars Initiative, a free educational marine science program for underserved youth.
"Blue Scholars’ mission is to educate, empower and engage youth in marine science education. So we’re taking them out on the water, introduction them to the marine ecology, marine biology [and] we talk to them about the food web," said Meredith.
Last year, videos showing hundreds of dead fish washing up near the Venetian Causeway in Miami began circulating online. The fish were coming from Biscayne Bay. Investigations found that a combination of low oxygen levels in parts of the water, along with high water temperatures, caused the week-long fish kill.
To help spread the word of what was happening to one of South Florida's iconic body of water, Blue Scholars launched a campaign called "12 days of Biscayne Bay".
"Every day, we broadcasted a different message about one of the issues impacting Biscayne Bay. For instance, fertilizer. That as we know, is a huge impact to the increase in algal blooms in primarily the northern part of the bay where this is less circulation of water," said Adam.
After the campaign gained attention from leaders such as Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava, Meredith and Adam launched another one, focusing on world oceans.
"We created this opportunity to highlight the work that they’re doing, recognize the issues that they’re facing in those specific ocean regions and then create a call to action, something that no matter where you live, we can all participate," said Adam.
The overall goal is for people to not only work together and connect with their peers, but also to develop life-skills while learning the value of giving back to benefit the community.
"Hopefully if they find joy in it and they’re educated about the importance of it, they’re going to work to preserve it," said Meredith.
Blue Scholars is hosting a weekend-long event in Miami Beach, offering several educational activities, including a beach clean up. To get involved, you can find more information here.