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Protecting what you love: 6 virtual ways to explore the Ocean

“People protect what they love.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau

World Ocean Day is coming up — a day when people around our blue planet celebrate and honor our one shared ocean, that connects us all. World Ocean Day is certainly a day for engagement, and we invite you to honor the ocean with your own actions on June 8th and beyond—browse these ways to do good for the ocean

Not only is it an important day to take action and stand up for Mother Nature; it’s an important day for connecting with her, too. Jacques Cousteau understood that we only defend the places that we know and care about. As you look ahead to your plans for next week, World Ocean Day is a good time to step outside and put yourself in a beautiful place. Bring someone with you. Pay attention to all five of your senses. See if you can find something you’ve never encountered before. “One way to open your eyes,” said Rachel Carson, “is to ask yourself, ‘What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?’”

Wishing you could explore the beach this World Ocean Day but finding yourself too far from the sea? Try out these fun virtual ways of exploring the ocean:

  1. The Marine Protection Atlas

One of the best ways we can encourage global leaders to create strongly protected marine reserves is to support and explore the areas that are “doing conservation right” (check out our Blue Park initiative to learn more about what effective marine conservation can look like). The Marine Protection Atlas is an immersive visual map that shows marine protected areas (MPAs) all around the globe, color-coded by just how well they’re actually protected. Scientists agree that 30% of the world’s land and sea must be protected in order to combat climate change, prevent biodiversity loss, and maintain a healthy planet that keeps us healthy, too! Use the map to find your favorite ocean places—and to learn more about what kind of protections they might still need in order to thrive into the future!

  1. Google Ocean

Thanks to Underwater Earth, Google Earth isn’t just for foot traffic anymore! It’s now possible to dive underwater at a number of sites around the world, exploring reefs and atolls as if you were scrolling through a Google street view. Click through to the pinned locations for a visual underwater experience, including bright schools of fish, sculptural coral formations, and the chance to immerse yourself in worlds that are otherwise often far away and out of sight. As the creators of Underwater Earth ask, “How can anyone love and care for something they cannot see and cannot understand?” 

  1. Underwater Cameras 

Aquariums and oceans around the world have an impressive array of web cams to immerse you in marine ecosystems…in real-time! Browse this list, or start by taking a virtual trip to a Blue Park by logging into this dreamy feed from the kelp forest in California’s Channel Islands.

  1. Nautilus Live

The Exploration Vessel Nautilus is a 64-meter research ship equipped with live-streaming underwater vehicles for scientists, students, and the public to explore the deep sea from anywhere in the world. Often, they’ll bring educators onboard their expeditions who share their hands-on experiences through ship-to-shore connections with the next generation. The Nautilus has spent extensive time mapping and investigating the extraordinary seamounts of the coast of California, which Marine Conservation Institute is working hard to protect. There are new species discovered every time these seamounts are explored! Excited to have front row seats for the discovery process? Browse the schedule of livestreams and watch videos from recent expeditions on the Nautilus YouTube channel.

Photo: Ocean Exploration Trust
  1. David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was among the first marine protected areas (MPAs) to be designated as part of the modern MPA movement, and studies here continue to guide our understanding of how protected areas can help make ecosystems more resilient in the face of climate change. Here, David Attenborough leads viewers on a multimedia experience that includes interactive time-lapses, 360-degree VR views, weather maps and even a mantis shrimp vision tool…it’s an extraordinary window into one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems. Explore it here!

  1. 360 Photos and Videos

Explore the underwater world through 360-degree imagery! Rooted in the mission to create a baseline record of the world’s coral reefs, the Catlin Sea Survey uses a panoramic camera system to reveal coral ecosystems in a unique blend of science, technology and communication. Check out their view of Fale Bommie, one of the largest corals in the world! 

AirPano also offers a wide selection of 360-degree photos and videos, many of them below the water. Some of the videos, in particular, are mesmerizing and immersive—almost as good as jumping in for a dive in real life! Several Blue Parks are featured on the site: explore sweeping 360-degree photos of the Galapagos and Aldabra Atoll, or plunge into a swirling school of fish near Malpelo Island.  

Want to share ocean experiences with others as World Ocean Day approaches?

Consider learning more about initiatives working to make marine education and coastal experiences accessible for BIPOC youth—programs such as Color the Water and YES Coast, or even Marine Conservation Institute’s own JEDI Ocean Award, which you can help fund here. Not just on World Ocean Day, but every day, access to beauty, and access to a healthy environment, are human rights.

Photo credit: Nariman Mesharrafa, Unsplash

Happy exploring!