World Oceans Day, held each year on 8 June, encourages all of us to celebrate the oceans. It also highlights how important oceans are in everyday life.
Oceans are home to millions of marine species. They provide us with oxygen, regulate our climate, offer us food and give us clean and sustainable energy. It is our duty to protect them.
This year, World Oceans Day is calling on leaders to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 – a target that is in line with the EU’s 2030 Biodiversity strategy.
To mark this special day, below are seven seas across the globe where LIFE projects work to restore endangered ecosystems and natural habitats. These projects show that “together we can protect our home” – the theme of this year’s Day.
Tracing marine litter across the Atlantic Ocean to Hawaii
In November 2019, one of the small wooden boats that LIFE LEMA uses to determine the trajectories of floating marine litter, reached Hawaii. The boats are made at a Basque maritime factory museum, before being decorated by children. Launched from different locations, the boats are dragged by the same currents that carry marine litter. Anyone finding the new arrivals on shore can alert LIFE LEMA via contact details on the boats. This helps the team determine the destinations of the boats and the floating marine litter. The arrival of a boat in Hawaii clearly shows that what we do to our seas can be felt thousands of miles away.
Drone to the rescue in the Caribbean
LIFE BIODIV’OM plans to use drone technology to drop rat poison on a cuckooshrike breeding site, limiting the presence of rats and their impact on bird nests. This year, the project is expected to exterminate the predators on area the size of 252 football fields that is not otherwise accessible, and wants to double this figure by 2023. LIFE BIODIV’OM aims to protect the biodiversity of France’s oceanic islands including Guyana, Martinique, Saint-Martin and Mayotte.
Sterilising domestic cats to save petrels in the Indian Ocean
On Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean, LIFE+ Pétrels has been sterilising domestic cats in a bid to reduce the numbers of feral cats in existence. This is because just one of these feral cats can kill up to 90 petrels a year. Réunion is the only tropical island home to two seabirds – the Mascarene petrel and Barau’s petrel. The project aims to prevent the extinction of these endangered birds.
Reviving an ancient seagrass in the Adriatic Sea
In the Adriatic Sea, LIFE SEPOSSO is protecting an endangered habitat called Posidonia oceanica. Sometimes called the lungs of the sea, this seagrass – rich in biodiversity and an important oxygen source – is suffering due to the construction of ports, cables, pipelines and coastal defence barriers. Among other actions, the team is transplanting seagrass in order to restore meadows. In fact, divers recently carried out underwater explorations to monitor the transplant potential beside the Costa Concordia shipwreck off the coast of Isola del Giglio, in Italy.
Keeping the noise down in the Mediterranean
Ships make a lot of noise, most of it coming from their propellers. Among other actions, the LIFE PIAQUO team plans to develop two quieter test propellers, which they will then test on vessels off the coast of Marseille, France. With the average level of noise in the busiest seas increasing steadily over the past 50 years, this is welcome news for marine mammals, fish and turtles, who are negatively impacted by the high acoustic levels.
Mediterranean seagrass as roof insulation
Oceans provide us with many resources like food and oxygen. One such resource is the Posidonia oceanica seagrass. LIFE REUSING POSIDONIA used this dried seagrass as thermal insulation in 14 social housing units on the Balearic island of Formentera. The project showed that environmentally friendly construction can reduce emissions and cut the use of energy and water.
Protecting a dainty seabird in the Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is an important habitat for many birds, fish, marine mammals, and algae. An example is the tiny Little Tern seabird, which that has a distinctive yellow bill with a black tip. This species is however considered one of the most endangered coastal birds in Europe. Thankfully, it is being protected by the Better BirdLIFE project, which is working to improve the conservation status of 14 bird species in the West Baltic Sea.
From the Black Sea to the Danube: Saving an ancient fish species
Sturgeons have existed for 250 million years. But Sturgeons are today the most endangered fish in the world. The LIFE for Danube Sturgeons aims to protect the remaining populations as they migrate from the Black Sea to the Danube. Despite being illegal to catch wild sturgeon, the practice still happens due to the huge gains from the trade of caviar. To this end, the project is working with law enforcement and is also in contact with local shops, restaurants and markets that sell sturgeon meat or caviar.