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Ocean Literacy

Updated: Jan 6

One of the corner stones of Shadow Wind CIC is to help educate the public to Ocean Literacy. But how many people really understand what those two words mean together? As I was recently asked to create a brief summary on OL (Ocean Literacy) meant in a nutshell. So although I could talk you through all sorts of definitions I felt it might be better to just reprint some of my notes here. I think by the end of them I hope you will get the idea...

Sailing Largs

1. Ocean Literacy is defined as being literate about the ocean – in this case understanding the importance of the ocean and how mankind interacts with it.


2. Most people are aware that the rainforests and plants give us oxygen, but not everybody realises that the ocean provides 50% of the oxygen that we breath.


3. You will notice that we use the singular of ‘Ocean’. This is because the first of the 7 important principles of Ocean Literacy is that all water on the earth, from the rains to the rivers to the seas to the oceans can be considered as one mass of water – which we can call the ocean as this makes up 97% of all water on earth.


4. The other principles include understanding that the Ocean shapes the earth and the life upon it, it strongly influences the weather, the ocean made and continues to make the earth habitable, it supports a huge and diverse range of life and ecosystems, the ocean and humans are inextricably linked, the ocean is largely unexplored (we have chartered 5% of the ocean compared to 100% of the moon and the planet Mars).


5. Climate change is an issue and is increasing the temperature of the ocean. Hopefully we can limit this to 1.5 degrees, but in reality we think it will be closer to 3 degrees, a huge increase.


6. Climate change is problem enough, but it is not as an immediate problem as 1) Over and destructive fishing, 2) Pollution, and 3) Invasive Species. Deep Sea mining could also be a problem but we have pushed ahead with this without enough research to know it’s effects on the ocean. There is currently a move to pause this but as the mined materials from deep sea mining being used in mobile phones etc, this seems unlikely.


7. The USA has incorporated Ocean Literacy into its school curriculum, and there is a movement in the UK to do the same, as the importance of the state of the ocean cannot be over estimated. As understanding grows scientists now believe the problem to be much worse than first assumed, although some authorities are now concerned about causing panic as the reality of the situation becomes more apparent.


8. As an example: in some areas we are hoping the decline of coral reefs can be limited to 23% of the reefs surviving. However we expect in reality to save about 3%. We know that plankton is starting to suffer, and as it does the quality of the oxygen that we have on earth will also suffer.


9. It is now mandatory that mankind understands the importance of the ocean. As a race we need to become ‘Ocean Literate’.


I will let you work out where this goes from here.


"The sea finds out everything you did wrong."

Francis Stokes

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