Oceans and Marine Life

lightning over the ocean

Covering some 70% of the Earth's surface, the ocean is a major driver of the world's weather and climate. Today, the growing impacts of climate change are making ocean observations, research, and services more critical than ever before. On World Meteorological Day, 23 March,  we highlight the inextricable link between ocean, climate and weather. It is also the launch of the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), to strengthen connections between communities working to study, conserve and sustainably use the ocean and its resources.

Underwater marine grasses.

The first UNESCO scientific assessment of its World Heritage marine sites’ blue carbon ecosystems highlights the critical environmental value of these habitats in fighting climate change.

sea waves

Oceans are an essential part of our planet. They provide us with food to eat and keep our atmosphere healthy. Without the oceans, we simply wouldn’t exist. But climate change means that ocean temperatures are increasing, icebergs are melting, and sea levels are rising. We need action to reverse these trends, and raising awareness is the first step. To do so, FAO hosted an online discussion titled Talking Oceans and Climate Change. 

view from above of coral reef

To better understand the mysteries of the world’s oceans, a team of scientists is using satellite imaging to map out, in unprecedented detail, one of the planet’s most iconic underwater ecosystems: the shallow coral reef.

The Ocean Decade will harness, stimulate and empower interdisciplinary ocean research at all levels, to support the timely delivery of the data, information and knowledge needed to achieve a well-functioning ocean in support of all SDGs of the 2030 Agenda.

A turtle underwater swims to the surface while the sun shines through.

The marine realm is the largest component of the Earth’s system that stabilizes the climate and supports life on Earth and human well-being. That’s why the UN proclaimed the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health. UNESCO takes the lead in gathering ocean stakeholders worldwide to ensure ocean science can fully support countries in creating improved conditions for the sustainable development of the Ocean. Adaptation strategies and science-informed policy responses to global change are urgently needed.

graphic of Earth globe over ocean shore

Lack of funding is hampering the development of marine research and its valuable applications, according to a report published by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

invasive marine species

The IMO course in the Philippines introduced participants to the key features of marine biology and environmental impacts of invasive species.

A close up of the mesopelagic Argyropelecus gigas, or Hatchetfish

The mesopelagic zone of the ocean, between 200 and 1 000 metres down, is where lanternfish often group together, forming dense layers. In fact, these layers contain so many fish tightly packed together that they can actually reflect sonar beams. For many years, oceanographers believed that the layers of fish were actually the ocean bottom! This is just one misconception proving how important it is to know about the sea life inhabiting the ocean depths. FAO’s illustrated guide helps scientists and researchers identify the fish in the ocean’s mesopelagic zone.

Fishing vessel

Monitoring climate adaptation in Guatemala’s marine coastal zones 

Pod of dolphins

UNEP has created immersive digital experiences for its #WildforLife campaign. These four ecosystem-based “journeys” show the magic of interconnected natural systems and inspire people to take action to protect these distinct ecosystems. The first is Marine Journey. This aquatic adventure informs and inspires people to conserve coral reef, seagrass and mangrove ecosystems. The campaign aims at reversing trends such as two-thirds of oceans being significantly and negatively altered by human activity.

School of fish swim along seagrass.

Join UNEP’s Wild for Life virtual, immersive journey through three unique but connected marine ecosystems – mangroves, seagrass and coral reefs – that are threatened by human activity.

A boy underwater picking up a shell.

The ocean and COVID-19

Two divers underwater along lines of rope.

The health of the oceans is tied to our health. They provide most of the oxygen we breathe. They are a major source of food and medicine and they are our allies against the coronavirus. These are just some multiple reasons why we should celebrate World Oceans Day every June 8 - to remind everyone of the major role the oceans have in everyday life. This year, under the theme “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean”, UN will host a full-day virtual event that will shed light on innovations from around the globe. Join the UN Secretary General, experts and celebrities.

Palancar Reef - Cozumel.

The task is to create a short video about why the world needs to urgently support greater ocean protection and climate action. Participate at Save the Ocean Creative Challenge