Byline: Christina Barron
It's easy to take the ocean for granted. The deep blue is crucial to things we do every day without thinking. We breathe. We eat and drink. We buy something that's made far from where we live. The ocean contributes to all those things. Not thinking about what the ocean does for us would be okay if its gifts were limitless. But they are not. And the actions of humans -- nearly 8 billion of us -- are threatening resources we can't do without.
Thankfully, a growing number of people are focused on safeguarding the ocean. Scientists, lawmakers, businesses and nonprofit groups are among those raising awareness of problems such as plastic pollution, bycatch and ocean acidification. They aren't only highlighting problems, however. They are developing solutions. Small success stories are building hope and encouraging more people to get involved.
We created a special collection of KidsPost stories because we know that when you think about the ocean, you realize how valuable it is. We have proof. Readers recently answered our request for short ocean appreciations, several of which we feature below. Reflecting is a good first step. We hope the additional stories and photos deepen your understanding of the ocean's problems and inspire you to be part of the solutions.
Reflections by young writers
What I appreciate most about the ocean is the diversity of life it supports, from enormous blue whales to tiny, but ever so important, corals. I love the beauty, architecture and liveliness of all the animals, plants and others who dwell under the sea.
-- Brice Claypoole , 14, Longboat Key, Florida
Treasure, transportation and food. All of these good things come from the ocean. The ocean lets us explore and express ourselves. It gives us food and all of these amazing things that come from the ocean. It allows us to show the world what we can do together!
-- Owen Bairley , 9, Fredericksburg, Virginia
I appreciate ocean animals. They're fun to watch! I've seen a movie called "Soul Surfer," and in it, somebody's attacked by a shark. That made me realize ocean life is hard. They struggle to survive. That made me appreciate them even more because, like me, ocean animals face many struggles.
-- Hailey Somsel , 10, New York, New York
The ocean is always changing
Octopus carrying shells, the horseshoe crab
Coral reefs, puffer fish, sharks, eels
Medicine and food
To the past, to the present, to the future
It will always be there tomorrow, if you take care of it today.
-- Thomas Gallagher , 9, Potomac, Maryland
I appreciate the beauty and the diversity of marine animals, the waves that make the most amazing sound as they crash ashore, the fish that give us food when we don't give anything in return, but most of all the memories and fun that we have at the beach.
-- Layli Ziraknejad , 12, Reston, Virginia
The ocean is vital for us human beings. Without the ocean we couldn't survive. Not only do 12 percent of people need the ocean for food, but a whopping 50 percent of the world's oxygen comes from phytoplankton in the ocean. The ocean's my MVP for being the human race's life support.
-- Colin Sellers , 10, Sarasota, Florida
The ocean is a happy place for all. Anyone can go at anytime. In the summer you can cool down and relax in the sun. In the winter you can watch the waves crash fiercely on the sand. The ocean never closes its doors. It gives us so much.
-- Madelyn Legeer , 10, Silver Spring, Maryland
What I appreciate most about the ocean is that it gives a home to one of my favorite animals, manta rays. They are very calm and peaceful, but they are endangered. When I grow up, I want to be a scientist so I can help them not be endangered anymore.
-- Lily Guder , 7, Alexandria, Virginia
Whether it is dolphins jumping out of the water, droplets like diamonds as they hit the sun, or it is evening sunsets that fade from burning yellow to brilliant purple, I love the ocean's beauty.
-- Sara Husain , 13, Ruskin, Florida
A Mysterious World
Underneath the ocean waves, there is a whole world of mysteries waiting to be explored. Some kinds of marine life like the giant squid are very rare, and we barely have any photos or evidence. Scientists are still working hard to learn things we don't know about.
-- Juno Wu , 11, Falls Church, Virginia
I love the ocean because it's the perfect place for me to think when I'm mad. I just love the clear blue water and the ocean sounds. It really calms me, and I just think the ocean animals are lovely.
-- Charlie Miller , 9, Odenton, Maryland
The ocean is a beautiful place that should be protected. The different colors of the water, the size of the waves, no two beaches are the same. All of these put together make me eager to go to the beach -- to swim, to see the water, to enjoy.
-- Eric Toop , 12, Westerville, Ohio
I like that the mama whales protect baby whales from predators. I like the clownfish's home. I like how the scuba divers save the fish.
-- Doreen Wills , 6, Duluth, Minnesota
I appreciate the ocean because I like to see the sea turtles and dolphins. I like to listen to the waves that are on the beach. It sounds peaceful and helps me relax. The ocean also brings shells up to the beach that I can find.
-- Maxton McCarthy, 6, Tampa, Florida