Every June 8 is World Oceans Day, an international day to remind us of the importance this body of water has in each of our lives.
Responsible for producing at least 50 per cent of the planet’s oxygen, the ocean is also a major source of food and a critical part of the biosphere, absorbing about 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide that humans produce.
Officially recognised by the UN since 2008, World Oceans Day is a chance to celebrate this and, with the current climate change crisis, doing so has never been more important.
Today, studies have shown 90 per cent of the ocean's big fish populations are depleted, and 50 per cent of its coral reefs have been destroyed. Humans are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished and we need to create a new balance, rooted in understanding in order to protect and preserve it.
This year's World Oceans Day events are all set to be virtual, meaning you can join from anywhere in the world. See what's on the agenda here.
And if this event has you thinking about making better eco-choices, why not consider including an ocean conservation experience on your next overseas holiday?
Many hotels and resorts run such activities, allowing guests to take part in ocean conservation work that will preserve, protect and rewild the waters surrounding them.
Here are five experiences that you can have at resorts around the world where you'll get to go beyond surface level and into the big blue.
1. Coral planting at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Located in the picturesque archipelago that is the Maldives, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island works in collaboration with Ocean Group to operate a marine restoration programme to conserve the surrounding ocean and wildlife around the resort.
Guests have the opportunity to get involved by joining in with coral planting, beach clean-ups and supporting the coral reef regeneration initiative with the resort’s marine biologists, who are on hand to introduce guests to the wonders of the ocean.
Set on an island brimming with tropical greenery and with access to the South Ari Atoll Marine Park (the only spot in the world where whale sharks are sighted all year round), this Maldivian resort is a favourite for those seeking diving and marine wildlife excursions.
2. Diving deep at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji
This five-star luxury eco-resort is named after one of the world's most famous oceanographic explorers and protectors of the ocean – Jean-Michel Cousteau, so you can rest assured that conservation is high on the agenda.
Set on the South Pacific, it's the only resort in Fiji to have a full-time resident marine biologist and he's on hand to help guests get to grips with the ocean. Join him in the water as part of an international programme that monitors the health of reefs all around the world, and get involved in conducting reef assessments.
On dry land, there are several presentations every week about a wide variety of topics related to the marine life found in the waters of the surrounding Savusavu Bay. Wannabe scuba divers can get certified in a three-day beginners' course to get access to some of the best dive sites in the world, including the renowned Namena Reef, which has some of the most diverse varieties of fish and coral found anywhere on the planet.
3. Adopt a turtle nest at Tanjong Jara Resort, Malaysia
Set on the eastern coast of Malaysia and inspired by a 17th-century Malay palace, Tanjong Jara Resort, a YTL Hotel, works to preserve the beauty of its natural environment and to protect the local marine life.
The resort and the Lang Tengah Turtle Watch work together to protect endangered sea turtles that nest on its shores. Guests are encouraged to learn more about the magnificent sea turtles, the dangers they face and the conservation efforts needed to protect their hatchlings from poachers. The resort also hosts informative talks, takes guests on nest inspections, and, if visiting at the right time of year, gives travellers the chance to watch the hatchlings emerge and make a run for the ocean.
There's also the option for travellers to pledge to adopt a nest, protecting it from poachers and receiving updates on it well after they leave their holiday and return home.
4. Coral Restoration at Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa
Having unveiled Mahe’s first artificially engineered reef a few years ago, Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa has plenty of ongoing efforts to help restore and protect the surrounding corals.
The artificial reef aims to regenerate and diversify the marine ecosystem and is complemented by the hotel’s well-established coral nursery. Launched in partnership with the Marine Conservation Seychelles Society, the nursery team helps regrow coral on land before transplanting it to degraded and bleached reef sites, an initiative that has seen more than 280 corals be introduced since its launch.
Guests are invited to get involved – either by snorkelling along the 650-metre coral trail to see the positive impact of this work, or by adopting a piece of coral to track its growth and development after they’ve left the hotel. Sustainable Day activities encourage guests to partake in a range of eco-activities, from beach clean-ups and meat-free meals, to switching off all power in your villa for a period of time each day of your holiday.
5. Turtle monitoring at andBeyond Mnemba Island, Zanzibar
Tanzania's most famous island is home to andBeyond Mnemba Island, which lies off the north-eastern coast of Zanzibar. This exclusive resort is part of Beyond Green, a new sustainable travel brand that launched in April this year.
With 12 luxury beach bandas for accommodation, it offers guests a real escape where nature is the focus. The surrounding waters are home to some of Africa’s most magnificent coral reefs and it's also where one of only two protected nesting sites for the green sea turtle in all of Zanzibar are found.
Guests can get involved in the resort's turtle tagging and monitoring programme in collaboration with its Oceans Without Borders marine conservation initiative. There's also the chance to join daily turtle conservation patrols along the beach and to help escort hatchlings to the sea when the time is right.