4th Station – Our relationship with OCEANS
Find yourself a quiet space in which to work, with internet access. Have a pen and paper to hand and access to the OCEANS – What I will do and why worksheet either in hard copy or online. For the “Appreciating MARINE LIFE” art activity at the end you will need to retrieve some plastic materials from your recycling and around your home and other craft materials you can find e.g: glue, tape, paint etc.
The oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and contain 97 percent of the Earth’s water. They generate half of the oxygen we breathe and a sixth of the animal protein we eat. They provide income for millions of people through industries such as fishing, food and tourism.
Watch this short film by Conservation International (CI) – Harrison Ford gives The Ocean a voice:
The oceans mitigate our impacts on the climate, absorbing 30% of our CO2 emissions and 90% of the excess heat, but as a result they are becoming warmer and more acidic. This, in turn, is harming marine life, which is an important part of our ecosystem. Each year we dump 8 million tons of plastic into the ocean. If we continue it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
Watch and Learn:
Watch the first two films that follow and then browse the other four films and the articles at the end for an overview of topics and issues relating to marine pollution. As you watch and read make some notes under the following headings:
- Why do we need to keep oceans clean?
- What harm do ocean plastics do in aquatic and marine environments?
- Is plastic generally bad for the environment? What are the arguments for and against?
- Is the problem about the plastic itself or our behaviours in relation to plastics? Why?
- What can we do to protect the oceans from plastic pollution?
National Geographic: How We Can Keep Plastics Out of Our Ocean
Plastic pollution poses one of the biggest known threats to the ocean, influencing all ecosystems from beautiful coral reefs to abyssal trenches, eventually accumulating in our own food. Learn more about how to upend the current system of produce-use-discard, and transition to a system which promotes reuse and re-purposing of plastics.
Emma Bryce: What really happens to the plastic you throw away
We’ve all been told that we should recycle plastic bottles and containers. But what actually happens to the plastic if we just throw it away? Emma Bryce traces the life cycles of three different plastic bottles, shedding light on the dangers these disposables present to our world.
Kim Preshoff via TedEd: The nurdle’s quest for ocean domination
Nurdles are tiny plastic pellets that form the raw material for plastic products. This video clip details why nurdles are pervasive polluters that persist in ecosystems.
The Surprising Environmental Benefits of Plastic
This video clip highlights that all types of material have their pros and cons. It examines how plastic compares to common alternatives. It suggests that plastics may actually reduce environmental impacts.
Keele University: The good news about plastic waste
This video clip examines innovative uses of plastic waste learnt from the developing world.
The Man Clearing 9,000 Tons of Trash From Mumbai’s Beaches
Over three years ago, Versova beach in Mumbai was little more than a dumping ground for garbage and waste. After witnessing the devastating impact the refuse was having on the ocean, Afroz Shah decided to take matters into his own hands. What started off as a single man’s mission to clean up his favourite childhood beach turned into the world’s largest beach cleanup initiative.
- National Geographic’s Laura Parker: The world’s plastic pollution crisis explained
- Forbes: Five Ways That Plastics Harm The Environment (And One Way They May Help)
- Why plastics may not always be the worst option for the planet
- Plastic fantastic: How it changed the world
- Plastics to save the planet: edible packaging
We are all in this together:
Having established that ocean plastics are a major environmental concern, the next question is: What can we do about it? Whilst many of the large-scale strategies to combat the many other forms of marine pollution are dependent upon on political policy-making and require macro-level action by businesses and governments, the contamination of oceans by plastics is an issue on which we can all take direct action. We can do this through changing our behaviours and choices as consumers and citizens, and through promoting positive behaviours within our households and communities based on the things we can control.
Consolidate your learning:
Read the following articles for some tips on managing plastic waste. Then use the worksheet “OCEANS – What I will do and why” (or draw your own version) to capture your thoughts about behaviours you can change and actions that you can take (encourage your friends and family to take) that will make a contribution to reducing ocean plastics:
- 16 simple ways to reduce plastic waste from Mother Nature Network
- Ten tips from the UK World Wildlife Fund to reduce your plastic footprint
- 11 easy ways to reduce your plastic waste today
Discuss your thoughts with your friends and family (and classmates if you are connected online) and include some of their ideas.
Appreciating MARINE LIFE – a creative activity:
Having spent some time exploring our impact on marine life through ocean plastics, your creative task is to re-purpose waste plastics to create a work of art that celebrate those marine creatures that are threatened. Take a look at the gallery below for some inspiration.
Sharing your marine creature:
Please send a photo of your marine creature to your school so they can post your artwork on their social media channels and tag us in the post using @RoundSquare or #RScreativecreature and we can share their post, or schools can upload a copy of your work here: