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World Oceans Day – let’s celebrate life

It's a major source of oxygen and food, a home to thousands of creatures, a climate regulator and an extraordinary playground for divers and photographers:
THE OCEAN. Celebrate the World Oceans Day with us, find out more about why the world’s oceans are so important and take part in a fantastic raffle.  

Karin Brussaard  • E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f1.8 Fisheye PRO
• PT-EP14 • PPO-EP02

This is a beautiful coconut octopus in Lembeh Street, an area in Indonesia, North Sulawesi. “It normally uses shells or coconut shells to protect itself when a predator comes close by”, Karin Brussaard, one of the Olympus underwater photography experts, explains. “But because of all the plastic and lack of shells and coconuts, it has to use a plastic bag to protect itself.” The story of this octopus is very sad and yet, it is just one of countless similar stories that should be told and remembered today, on the World Oceans Day.

Each year on the 8th of June, people all over the world celebrate the ocean and try their best to change its story. In doing so, they celebrate each and every life on this wonderful planet. Because no matter where you are and no matter how far you might be situated from any coastline, you are somehow connected to the ocean.

Karin Brussaard  • TG-5 • PT-058 

Why is the ocean so important?
The oceans are the lifeblood of our planet and the source of all life. Not only do they hold over 95% of the planet’s water, they produce more than half of the oxygen in our atmosphere, are said to be important for 50% of the breaths we take and absorb a lot of carbon. But there’s more to it.
In many ways, the ocean acts as a regulator of our climate. By soaking up the heat and transporting water of different temperatures all over the planet, it regulates the weather, the temperatures as well as rains and droughts in many places and it makes most parts habitable by keeping the balance. And speaking about habitation – the ocean does not only help to make the planet Earth such a great home to us, it is also a home itself, a home to the greatest abundance of life including some of the smallest and some of the biggest creatures there are. From critter to whales – there is a variety of life in the oceans that is hard to imagine from ashore and that we can only do our best to partly capture with our lenses.
What is more, is that the oceans do not only keep us alive by providing oxygen, they also provide us with food. That goes hand in hand with the fact that they create many jobs – not only for fishermen. From tourism and transport to water sports businesses: many industries and jobs are highly connected to and dependent on the ocean – and its condition. And it goes without saying that a (commercial) world – and our supermarkets – are quite hard to imagine without ocean freight.
So, the ocean is a major source of life in many ways but it is also a happy place that is often connected to fun, inspiration, holidays, entertainment, sports, wellbeing, health and many different hobbies like diving and underwater photography, of course. It is a way of transport, an essential part for many businesses and researchers, a source of energy and the largest part of our planet. Yet, we seem to know so little about it and – worst of all – many people seem to care very little about it.

Dangers the oceans have to face
The result: The oceans of the world are not well. Not at all. The sheer number of people who use and depend on the ocean and the often unwise and destructive practices we have adopted have created and are still creating problems like overharvest of resources, reduction in biodiversity, and degradation of marine habitats and species, and many more.
Melanie and David Benz, two of the Olympus underwater photography experts, ocean lovers and experienced divers and photographers, are certain: “We are facing huge problems when it comes to the conditions of our oceans. The oceans are in danger and it doesn’t really help to just discuss about it and point the finger of blame.” While there are many problems when it comes to the condition of the ocean, plastic pollution and overfishing are probably the most important dangers it has to face.

                  

Melanie Benz • E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f2.8 PRO


“The oceans are full of (micro) plastic waste, they are fished down to a minimum and the number of those causing these problems – the number of humans – is constantly rising”, Melanie and David elaborate. “A countless amount of plastic reaches the oceans via the land and the rivers. Especially in countries without a functioning system of waste separation and disposal, the coastlines and oceans are developing into a collection area for plastic waste. South East Asia and central America are especially problematic, but also in Europe we are facing this problem. Of course, it might already help to avoid plastic waste where ever possible but as long as vegetables are offered in plastic coats (though naturally equipped with a protective skin) and we prefer plastic bags to shopping baskets, we will hardly see any change. And although many tourists pick up the occasional piece of waste at the beach to clear their conscience, they cannot achieve that much. If you really want to clear your ‘green conscience’ a little more, you should try to at least invest a whole day for collecting waste. Many resorts and diving operators have already recognized the problem and are regularly organizing so-called ‘beach clean-ups.’ At least this helps to collect quite a few kilos of plastic, glass and other waste within a short period. The question whether this trash is disposed of correctly afterwards is a different matter … So, in our opinion, only a wholistic strategy for the prevention of the oceanic pollution can help our oceans to recover and to solve the problem of plastic waste. Because less plastic means less pollution. And if there are no plastic bags available, maybe people will start using shopping baskets instead. Maybe this is quite literally only ‘a drop in the ocean’ but it could be an important impulse for rethinking this issue.”

The World Oceans Day 2018
To raise awareness and to give an impulse to rethink – these are also two goals of the World Oceans Day 2018 with the topic: Preventing plastic pollution and encouraging solutions for a healthy ocean.
This special day on the 8th of June has been celebrated unofficially since its original proposal in 1992 in Canada. Since then it has been celebrated each year to honor the ocean and its importance in our lives. Every year, the World Oceans Day, which has been promoted and coordinated by The Ocean Project since 2002, provides a different topic focusing on the health of the oceans and the beings living in them and gives people the opportunity to honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans. In 2008, it was officially recognized by the United Nations, “which provided an important boost to those organizations and individuals who have been deeply committed to ocean conservation.” The World Oceans Day has four mail goals: to change attitudes, to learn, to change our ways and to celebrate. It shall remind everyone of the ocean’s major role in our daily life, inform the public about the impact of human actions on the ocean, mobilize and unite people from all over the world for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans and thereby create a worldwide movement that celebrates the beauty, the wealth and the promise of the ocean.
In the past years, numerous events, Social Media campaigns and other activities took place in cooperation with hundreds of different organizations and volunteers all over the world. In 2016, for example, Instagram posts about the World Oceans Day and its activities could reach over 290 million people. In 2017, more than 1.000 events were held in 118 countries, including the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York City during the week of the World Oceans Day, and Social Media posts could generate around 2.8 billion impressions for the #WorldOceansDay on Facebook and Twitter alone. Not only is it essential that we all continue and grow the social buzz about this topic, we rather have to really take action to help protect what we love – and what we want to take beautiful pictures of.

 

David Benz • E-M1 Mark II • E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm 1:1.8 Fisheye PRO 
• PT-EP14 • PPO-EP02

How can we contribute?
As we are all connected to the ocean, there are already a few basic things everyone can try to do in his or her everyday life to help the oceans recover and thrive again. Of course, these are things most people know about but let’s just take a moment to remember what should come natural to all of us:

  • Be mindful with your water consumption.
  • Reduce your plastic waste as much as you can.
  • Dispose of waste properly and recycle.
  • Commute consciously.
  • Don’t waste energy or any other resources.
  • Don’t dispose of waste near/in the water.
  • Don’t disturb any wildlife or their habitats.
  • Respect and don’t enter (marine) protected areas.
  • Pick up the waste you find and dispose of it properly.

Juan José Sáez Méndez, Olympus Visionary and underwater photography expert, totally agrees and adds: “We have to make a great effort so that our planet is a wonderful legacy for future generations and for this we have to contribute with our particular grain of sand and one way is not to consume anything packaged in plastic. Do not transport the purchase of the supermarket in plastic bags and deposit all the plastics you need to use in suitable recycling containers. A plastic bottle takes 500 years to degrade, a plastic bag or glass 50 years. Fish and other beings get caught in the plastic bags and drifting nets and end up dying immobilized.”

Juan Josè Saez  • E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO 
• PT-EP14 • PPO-EP04

And not only can we try to implement a mindful behaviour into our everyday lives to reduce this horrible scenario, as divers and underwater photographers we have a special responsibility to not disturb or even destroy what we love so dearly. “As a diver for 26 years I see big degradations in the ocean around the world. My obligation as an underwater photographer is to leave a record of what happens under water. We must make the new generations aware of the importance of the ocean in our life.”, Juan José continues. Of course, it goes without saying that divers – or anyone spending time at or in the ocean – are not to pollute this magical area in any way, but there are more rules to follow when diving and taking pictures.

 

Ann Karin Matberg, passionate diver, photographer and Olympus Visionary herself, sums up:

  • Do not brake corals.
  • Do not stress animals.
  • Do not swim after animals to hunt them for a good picture. If your subject is not in a good photographic position – you either wait for it to move into another place, or you move yourself to a better placed subject.
  • Do not move animals from one place to another to get a better background.
  • Let the animals come to you. After all, we are the guests in their home.
  • Speak up if you see other divers behaving improperly. We all have a responsibility to take care of the world we love.
  • If you have to harm or stress an animal or destroy their habitat to get a certain picture: Do NOT take that picture! It is not worth it!

As you can see, there are many small things that everyone, and not only divers, can do to help protect the oceans – not only today, but every day. For those of you who want to actively take part in one of this year’s events around the World Oceans Day, find all registered events here.

“The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat.” (Jacques Yves Cousteau)


The raffle

To not only speak up today, but to also celebrate this very special day with you, we have prepared a raffle for you. You can win one of 3 Olympus Though TG-4 Fisheye Kits by doing the following:

1. Take a moment to think about what you have just read and to realize the importance of the ocean and the danger it is in.
2. If you are not signed up yet as a MyOlympus user, quickly click here , register and refresh your browser or click here after having signed up. In case you are already signed up, log in here and you will get back to this page.
3. Think about one (small) thing you want to do this summer to contribute to the wellbeing of the ocean and to help raise awareness and understanding for this matter (e.g. watch a documentary, sign up for an actual event of the World Oceans Day, pick up waste, share the message on social media …).
4. Comment under this blogpost what you are going to do until June 17th,2018


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Thank you very much for your participation.
Your Olympus Underwater Photography World

  • Enhance the general awareness of the plastic pollution by telling about the PLASIC CHANGE INITIATIVE go to: https://plasticchange.org/ and sign-up

    When in the nature I always bring a special bag for collecting plastic - The Danish organisation HAVMILJØVOGTER supplies bags in Denmark for free. For more info: http://en.havmiljøvogter.dk/

    Be aware of not throwing any plastic in the toilet - only your own waste and toiletpaper

  • I'm a teacher and live in a beautiful coastal area (Pembrokeshire Wales) but was shocked the other day to find that my students know nothing about what is in the sea around them. What I want to do is get as many pictures of the animals and wildlife in and around the sea, print them out and display them on the walls of my classroom. Hopefully this will spark their interest and they will want to find out more!

  • I have already switched to a selective waste collecting program, and now would like to reduce my water consumption as much as possible. Water is not a problem in Hungary, where I live, but we need to think globally and secure natural resources. This should be a priority.

  • I'm active member of a Kayak club at lake Esrom (second largest lake in DK), and during the summer season we arrange severel "garbage pick-up's" at the lake and the banks og the lake.

    Best regards Palle Hansen

  • This summer, in which I will go diving in the Red Sea, I will do two things which I usually do: pick up any plastic I encounter while I dive (which unfortunately is a lot!) and keep my diving knife handy for any old forgotten fishermen traps on the ocean floor which I cut through to avoid any beautiful marine life get trapped!

  • As a family we do our very best to respect our beautiful planet, this includes having dramatically reduced our plastic usage and always recycling. The current focus on the impact plastic has on our wildlife needs to be increased and as I work in the Education System I am encouraging all the children to be aware their ability to help reduce,reuse and recycle :)

  • This month's National Geographic Magazine is devoted to Planet or Plastics. It's just amazing how much plastics trash is destroying our environment. I think this Months National Geographic Magazine is a must read for everyone.

  • I decided to check what the EU institutions are doing to protect the oceans from pollution.

    In January 2018 the European Commission has adopted the first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics which will protect the environment from plastic pollution whilst fostering growth and innovation. Every year, Europeans generate 25 million tonnes of plastic waste, but less than 30% is collected for recycling. Across the world, plastics make up 85% of beach litter. You can read about it here:

    ec.europa.eu/.../first-ever-europe-wide-strategy-plastics-2018-jan-16_en

    The European Environment Agency (EEA) has released new data about litter found on Europe’s beaches. Based on nearly 700,000 collected items, disposable plastics are the biggest contributor to marine litter, with cigarette butts and filters being the most commonly found individual items. The new data has been collected by volunteers using the EEA’s Marine LitterWatch mobile app.

    www.eea.europa.eu/.../new-data-collected-by-citizens

  • I will Pick up trash at the beaches I visit , and share it in my Facebook page, to increase my friend awareness.

  • Every weekend I go Diving and pick up waste. And ofcourse I wil stimulated orhers by sharing and caring

  • I've started to separate pastic from my normal waste. As soon as i started there was more plasic waste than normal. In my city the plastic waste is recycled so it doesn't end up in the ocean or environment. Unbelievable how much plastic we use and don't recycle.

  • This saturday we will go to clean one beach in Denia(SPAIN) with our scuba club EL POLPETER. Every day we try explain the people the problem with the enviroment.

  • My daughter is 3 years old and we are visiting the beaches when the weather allows it. I'm teaching her to clean up after her self, especially public places like the beach, as we only have ourself to blame for the polution. She already shows alot of responsibility and I'm sure she'll grow up caring about the enviroment and the ocean, which she truly loves.

  • until June 17th,2018..... it's not until, it' forever!

    No plastic in the nature, pick it up, reuse and help create a better planet for the next generation. We do our best to preserve all of narures reserves

  • I will always bring a back for my own trash and for trash that I find when I go hiking in the nature :)

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