The ocean is a fascinating part of our planet. Learning about the ocean and ocean life with your child can be an amazing bonding experience and highly educational for the whole family. There is so much to know, do, and see!
About the Ocean
Earth’s ocean covers just about three-quarters of its surface, and the average depth of the sea is two and one-half miles! No matter how you are viewing the ocean, it is very apparent how massive it is!
The ocean is so big that it is divided into sections: the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Southern, and Arctic Oceans, listed in order from largest to smallest. The study of our oceans is called oceanography.
The water in the ocean is very salty and filled with many various plant and animal life, from the largest to the smallest creatures on Earth. Unlike oceanography, the study of ocean life is called marine biology.
Importance of the Ocean and Ocean Conservation
Taking up more than 70 percent of the Earth, oceans are known to be an integral part of our planet’s ecology. However, pollution, overfishing, and climate change all pose threats to the survival of many different ecosystems. More than a third of ocean mammals, nearly a third of corals, and more than half of all marine life are in danger of extinction and are projected to disappear by 2100.
Significant environmental changes not only impact the ocean’s overall health, but also have a domino effect on other aspects of our planet.
In 2019, a NASA study showed the link between warmer oceans and an increase in extreme weather events around the globe!
Find Science Museums on The Ocean
For many children, there is a natural fascination of the ocean and ocean life. Hands on and visual experiences such as visiting an aquarium/seaquarium will give your child real life views of various sharks, long sting rays, beautiful sea turtles, and other great ocean life.
Look for AZA-accredited aquariums to make sure they follow the best practices in ocean conservation before purchasing tickets. It is a best practice to avoid any aquariums that keep large pelagic (sea) species, such as orcas, in small enclosures or that offer ANY interactive experiences with animals like dolphin shows. We recommend additional research regarding the above as there are many reasons to avoid either of these experiences. As tempting and exciting as it is to see these creatures close up, it is important to note that we should only encourage they be given fair treatment and a happy life.
It is no mystery why children are fascinated by both large and small sea life. Critters that walk along the ocean floor or predators circling around in waves have inspired books and stories throughout the years that even adults find interesting! Take a walk or drive to your local library or browse online for literature that will spark your child’s interest and imagination. Some books to consider:
- Water Beds by Gail Langer Karwoski
- Dolphins: What They Can Teach Us by Mary M. Cerullo
- Destination Deep Sea by Jonathan Grupper
- Across the Wide Ocean by Karen Romano Young
- Sea Critters by Sylvia A. Earle
Educational Programs and Documentaries
Not only are ocean conservation documentaries rich with information and resources, but they are often both beautiful and entertaining to watch. Enjoy relaxing montages of sea life while learning all about their biology, behaviors, and environment.
BBC’s Blue Planet series is a great documentary to start with!
Go to the Beach
Looking for a fun way to experience the ocean firsthand? Plan a trip to the beach and point out all that you have learned about the ocean and sea life! Discuss the purpose of sand, the saltiness of the ocean, collect seashells, and see if you can spot any crabs or fish. Be careful about jellyfish!
Do not forget to pack the beach essentials such as sunscreen, umbrellas, towels, and a few disposable cameras to document what you see.
Ways Your Family Can Support Ocean Conservation
Consider “Adopting” a Pet
There are many organizations that offer opportunities to support their conservation work in both fun and engaging ways, such as adopting a sea creature in the name of a loved one! A nice idea is to involve your child in the adopting and naming process and explain that is to provide awareness for an endangered species.
Most organizations require a small monthly donation to do so, which will usually include getting an adoption certificate, plus exciting updates on your adopted animal. Your donation also will include educational information to go over with your child regarding the animal you “adopted”!
Teach Your Child How to Reduce Plastic
Plastic pollution that ends up in our oceans contributes to the loss of livable environments for most of its sea life. Being sure to reduce and recycle single-use plastics in your home can help! For example, using reusable shopping bags to grocery shop instead of using plastic shopping bags is a small step towards tremendous change.
Take time to educate yourself on this matter to better explain the importance of reducing plastic usage. How about also turning it into a game to see who can recycle the most every month and include a small prize for the winner?
Get Your Whole Family Involved
Involve yourself AND your child in local and national organizations that work to reduce the impacts of ocean biodiversity/environmental loss and climate change. It can be as simple as becoming a member as a family and donating, or as involved as volunteering time together at events sponsored by the organization(s) of your choice. A few notable examples are Greenpeace, Oceana, and Sea Shepherd.
It is also worth checking to see if there are any local charities in your area, especially if you live near the coast.
The Nest Difference and Beyond: Caring for Our Environment and Other Beings
At The Nest Schools, we value instilling children with the value of showing kindness for others. In our Art of Living enrichment program, children learn all about the “how” of caring for other beings. The program promotes children learning how to be mindful of others around them and our environments while learning their role in caring for our planet.
As climate change progresses and raises ocean temperatures, it will have an overall impact on marine life and the ocean’s many ecosystems. Through ocean conservation and teaching our next generations about recycling impacts, sustainable lifestyles, and the value our oceans have to our planet, they can understand that their actions impact more than their own life. As children learn and teach others at an early age, the more positive of an impact the future will have on our ocean and planet.