Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet

Earth’s oceans are home to the majority of living organisms, and provide humans with reliable climates, routes for travel, and sources of sustenance. The oceans are also in trouble.

Monday, June 8, is World Oceans Day, an annual celebration of everything the oceans do for our little blue planet. Appreciating the oceans starts with learning about them! National Geographic is doing a deep dive into our resources so educators can empower students to effectively care for the water we all depend on.

The largest specimen of the leatherback sea turtle (reptile) (this one is swimming off the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean) reached almost 7 feet! Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic
The largest specimen of the leatherback sea turtle (reptile) (this one is swimming off the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean) reached almost 7 feet!
Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic

Water, Water Everywhere…

Whether you live in a landlocked town or a home on the beach, human activity of all kinds eventually affects the oceans. That’s how things like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch come to be.

Can your students identify bodies of water near their homes that could be affected by human activity? Host a bioblitz there, and keep an eye out for trash and other signs of people’s impact on the area. This hands-on experience can serve as a small-scale example of how people change the environment.

Learning to appreciate the ocean’s biodiversity is also valuable. Aquatic species everywhere are affected by the human activity your students have been thinking so much about! Take a class tour of the underwater photos submitted to the Great Nature Project from around the globe. The pictures were taken by curious animal lovers with all levels of photography expertise.

The resources in our oceans collection can help you fill in the gaps if you need the perfect image, video, activity, or lesson to inspire students with underwater wonders.

But What Can KIDS Do?

At this point, you’re probably ready to throw the biggest World Oceans Day celebration of them all, but you still don’t have a good answer for the student who raises their hand and asks, “I’m just one kid. What can I do to help the animals I care about?” This activity from National Geographic Kids’ “Mission: Sea Turtle Rescue” book can provide a starting point. It’s time to host an art show!

Get Creative

  • Gather enough used plastic bottles for each of your students to have one. Make sure they’re cleaned off.
  • Have students paint pictures on the bottles of the world’s seven sea turtle species: flatback, green, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, logger­head, and olive ridley.
  • By painting the bottles, students are creating art out of trash that might have ended up in the oceans!

Get Organized

  • Find a good place to display your class’s artwork. It could be in a community center, your school, or outdoors. If possible, pick a public place that lots of people naturally pass through, such as a train station. Don’t forget to ask for permission if needed.
  • Explain what your show is about via description cards that go with the exhibit. Note who made each piece, the materials that were used, and how the artwork relates to saving sea turtles.
  • Invite people to see the exhibit! Friends, family, and even reporters can all get invitations. National Geographic emerging explorer Asher Jay would love to hear about your work, too.


  • Use your show as an opportunity to talk to visitors about sea turtles and the problems they face. Raise awareness, raise funds, or collect signatures for a petition, depending on your goal.
  • During the show, give out stickers or badges that people can wear. Later in the day, people might ask your visitors about the stickers, triggering a conversation that will spread your campaign even further.
  • Take lots of photos during your event. Use them to celebrate success by sharing them on the Internet after the show. You can also share them with your local newspaper. Who knows, the press might publish a story about your accomplishments!

Tell us how you’re celebrating World Oceans Day in the comments, and find more ways for kids to help animals on the Nat Geo Kids website!


Web Resources:


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