08 June 2024

One world, one ocean – thirty two years ago, at the Earth Summit in Rio, delegates from Canada first proposed the concept of a World Ocean Day. Now celebrated annually on the 8th of June, Samu and Isla from the Guide team take this opportunity to examine the role that The Deep plays in ocean conservation and education. 

It’s easy to look out at the ocean from our place here on land and be a bit mystified as to why it’s so important. It’s just the big wet thing on our doorstep after all, nothing very special?! But the ocean is full of hidden depths (pun absolutely intended) – there’s so much more going on beneath the surface, and in fact, it’s very special indeed. 
Our planet surface is over 70% ocean – you could argue we live on planet Ocean, not planet Earth! In fact, about 96% of all the water on Earth is held in our oceans. Ocean habitats are as wild and varied as any here on land, from shallow tropical lagoons to the chilling mystery of the deep sea trenches, and the fauna and flora that call the ocean home, are just as diverse as those habitats. It helps regulate our climate, with billions of photosynthetic phytoplankton absorbing up to 25% of generated carbon dioxide and putting out oxygen in turn, just like plants and trees here on land. The water also dissolves carbon from the atmosphere – these two processes turn the ocean into a giant carbon sink. With all that going on, it’s easy to see why a whole day for the ocean is barely enough time to even scratch the surface. 


Be honest with yourself, how much do you actually know about the ocean? Perhaps you know that Gentoo penguins, like our colony here at the Deep, are the fastest swimmers in the penguin world? Or that the Green Sawfish can reach a whopping 7 metres long? If you knew both of those you might just be an ocean expert. But general knowledge about the ocean and just how important it is to life here on earth, is actually pretty rare. World Ocean Day allows us to shine a spotlight on this watery world, opening up people’s minds to new experiences and information. Aquariums like The Deep have a vital role to play in World Ocean Day’s mission of ‘improving ocean literacy’. It’s difficult to care about things that seem far away and unconnected to us – World Ocean Day opens the door to a greater understanding of the ocean, the impact our actions have on its collective health, and the impact a struggling ocean has on the health of our planet.
Want to improve your ocean literacy? The World Ocean Day website has new resources available every month of the year.


You might have guessed already, but we’re a little bit passionate about our oceans and their wellbeing. Just a teensy bit! We love that we get to introduce people to marine animals they would never otherwise have the chance to see up close and personal, and as Guides, chatting with our visitors about why we do what we do is one of the best parts of our job. Isla grew up rock pooling on the Scottish coast and wild swimming in Cornwall, while Samu is a scuba diver who loves the mystery of the ocean and how submerging deep beneath the surface feels like entering a totally different world. Diving with bull sharks (Sam calls them bullys!) and tiger sharks, and learning just how relaxed they are when left to do their own thing, how vitally important they are, and how detrimental it can be if they are taken away. Each and every one of the Guides here at The Deep have their own stories to tell about how and why we all fell in love with the ocean, and getting to open that door for people who haven’t had the chance to yet is an absolute privilege. 


Welcome aboard! Learning about the ocean is a great start, but we mustn’t stop there. The theme for World Ocean Day 2024 is ‘catalysing action for our ocean and climate’ – we have to take what we learn and act on it, not just today but all year around. The truth is, the ocean is facing a lot of challenges. We mentioned how it functions as a carbon sink, but it’s a little bit more complicated than that. While the phytoplankton and other things like seagrasses absorb and transform CO2 into oxygen, excess CO2 in the atmosphere can dissolve straight into the ocean – which makes it more acidic, which has all sorts of terrible knock-on effects on marine species. By 2050, there will more plastic than fish in the ocean, and rising ocean temperatures are causing mass coral bleaching events, destroying this incredibly important habitat. It’s a lot! And it can definitely be frightening to learn about. But learning is the first step to taking action – so we’ll always be here, helping people along on their learning journey, and together we can make a change for a better future.