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Updated: Mar 29, 2023

252 million years ago we had the largest marine mass extinction of all time, losing 96 percent of all marine life. Currently, we are in the midst of what scientists are calling the sixth mass extinction, which is being driven primarily by us humans. A study published in the Science Advances journal in 2020 stated that our current rate of marine species extinction is 100 to 1,000 times higher than the background rate of extinction, which is the rate at which these species would normally go extinct.

With our oceans in such dire straits, last year LiC packed their bags for a trip to Mozambique and put together a series of marine conservation lessons to pilot. We knew it was unlikely that our kids in this coastal town were going to be able to truly relate to animals they will rarely see and encounter, and decided that it would rather be far more fun for them to learn about the marine animals they encounter on a daily basis! The lessons were an absolute hit, and it couldn’t be a moment too soon.

The ocean covers over 70 percent of the Earth's surface and is home to countless species of plants and animals. Although we’ve discovered a whopping 240,000 marine species, it’s estimated that the true number could be anywhere from 500,000 to 2 million - meaning we’ve discovered less than 20 percent of them. Without some crucial interventions, we’ll never truly know what the rest of the ocean has to offer. Our day-to-day activities like overfishing, poaching, pollution, and climate change are causing such harm to the ocean and its inhabitants, there soon won’t be much left to discover.


Overfishing has led to over 90 percent of fish stocks being fully exploited or overexploited, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). One of the possible solutions we’re busy putting together is Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Areas such as the Pitcairn Islands in the UK and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the US are spaces where fishing is either restricted or prohibited, along with other extractive activities allowing for fish populations to recover and maintain ocean health.

Although we have had a great deal of success making use of MPAs, with every restriction comes a rebellion, and one we know all too well - poaching. This lucrative not-so-little business is estimated to be worth billions of dollars every year, and with our poor marine enforcement, it’s a very tempting crime.

Our ever-increasing demand for seafood does little to help our cause - where there is demand there is supply, and as we turn our attention towards healthier food alternatives, our consumption of fish will continue to skyrocket. Our efforts to combat marine poaching include increased enforcement and monitoring, as well as International agreements such as the United Nations’ Port State Measure Agreement, which aims to prevent illegally caught fish from entering the market. Although these efforts are ongoing and increasing in stature, poaching continues to be a massive problem and the underlying drivers need to be addressed in order for us to truly start making headway.

This brings us to the true nemeses of our oceans and their species (other than us, of course) - pollution and climate change. Although all pollution is by definition problematic, the kind that truly makes our oceans suffer is plastic. A single piece takes hundreds of years to decompose and can wipe out marine life through death by ingestion.

This is where we come in - reduction of single-use plastics, increased recycling and composting, and more sustainable packaging solutions are everyday changes we can all make in our daily lives. We’re already seeing a massive shift in our packing materials away from single-use and towards sustainability. The problem of clearing the current accumulate pollution is still one we need to summit, but we can make a good start by reducing the never-ending plastic pipeline flowing into our ocean - if our little fishies could thank us, they would.

Climate change, however, is a more complex problem requiring a more complex solution. Rising ocean temperatures mean a few things, but none of them are good. Bleaching and subsequent dying-off of coral reefs, changes in marine species distribution and abundance, ocean acidification from CO2 absorption - this is the story of climate change told by our oceans. Our only solution here is a story as old as time - reducing greenhouse gas emissions ad switching to renewable energy sources. Through these efforts and these alone, we can fight back against climate change in our oceans.


Although the situation is no short of dire, we will never stop trying, and we still have time. The Great Barrier Reef is an awe-inspiring example - after facing significant and widespread coral bleaching and death in 2016 and 2017, the reef has since shown considerable improvement in overall coral cover, particularly in the central and southern regions. Just 6 years ago, more than two-thirds of the reef had been severely affected by coral bleaching, with over 50% of the corals in the northern ad central regions dying off completely. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is now the largest MPA in the world, showing first-had (or fin?) how successful we can be if we truly commit to our environment.


This can be a lot to take in, but there’s no need to feel like a fish out of water! There are loads of NGOs doing amazing work that you can either donate to or volunteer at. Some of the best ones are Ocean Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund.

With organizations like these and us taking responsibility, making sure we’re doing our part every day to conserve rather than condemn our oceans, it’s only a matter of time before success stories like that of the Great Barrier Reef start outranking the horror stories we face today.

We are the pebble and our actions are the ripples - let’s make every one count.


Help us go the extra mile. Each donation allows us to continue our mission of educating to empower, setting the hearts of the next generation of conservationists on fire. You can make a difference today – help us change the world by donating here.

The future is in our hands.


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