Photograph by Sebastian Meckelmann
1. Mind Your Carbon Footprint and Reduce Energy Consumption
Reduce the effects of climate change on the ocean by leaving the car at home when you can and being conscious of your energy use at home and work. A few things you can do to get started today: Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, take the stairs, and bundle up or use a fan to avoid oversetting your thermostat.
Global fish populations are rapidly being depleted due to demand, loss of habitat, and unsustainable fishing practices. When shopping or dining out, help reduce the demand for overexploited species by choosing seafood that is both healthful and sustainable.
3. Use Fewer Plastic Products
Plastics that end up as ocean debris contribute to habitat destruction and entangle and kill tens of thousands of marine animals each year. To limit your impact, carry a reusable water bottle, store food in nondisposable containers, bring your own cloth tote or other reusable bag when shopping, and recycle whenever possible.
4. Help Take Care of the Beach
Whether you enjoy diving, surfing, or relaxing on the beach, always clean up after yourself. Explore and appreciate the ocean without interfering with wildlife or removing rocks and coral. Go even further by encouraging others to respect the marine environment or by participating in local beach cleanups.
5. Don't Purchase Items That Exploit Marine Life
Certain products contribute to the harming of fragile coral reefs and marine populations. Avoid purchasing items such as coral jewelry, tortoiseshell hair accessories (made from hawksbill turtles), and shark products.
6. Be an Ocean-Friendly Pet Owner
Read pet food labels and consider seafood sustainability when choosing a diet for your pet. Never flush cat litter, which can contain pathogens harmful to marine life. Avoid stocking your aquarium with wild-caught saltwater fish, and never release any aquarium fish into the ocean or other bodies of water, a practice that can introduce non-native species harmful to the existing ecosystem.
7. Support Organizations Working to Protect the Ocean
Many institutes and organizations are fighting to protect ocean habitats and marine wildlife. Find a national organization and consider giving financial support or volunteering for hands-on work or advocacy. If you live near the coast, join up with a local branch or group and get involved in projects close to home.
8. Influence Change in Your Community
Research the ocean policies of public officials before you vote or contact your local representatives to let them know you support marine conservation projects. Consider patronizing restaurants and grocery stores that offer only sustainable seafood, and speak up about your concerns if you spot a threatened species on the menu or at the seafood counter.
9. Travel the Ocean Responsibly
Practice responsible boating, kayaking, and other recreational activities on the water. Never throw anything overboard, and be aware of marine life in the waters around you. If you’re set on taking a cruise for your next vacation, do some research to find the most eco-friendly option.
10. Educate Yourself About Oceans and Marine Life
All life on Earth is connected to the ocean and its inhabitants. The more you learn about the issues facing this vital system, the more you’ll want to help ensure its health—then share that knowledge to educate and inspire others.
Learn about the impact your seafood choices make on your health and the ocean in this interactive guide.
Find out how we can balance our tastes with what's right for the oceans.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of volunteers gather to clean up coastlines around the world.
Get additional tips on how you can make a difference from the Smithsonian's Ocean Portal.
Ocean Photo Galleries
National Geographic Magazine
A cast of thousands clings to rocky real estate in a narrow strip of shore called the intertidal zone.
From tiny coral polyps grew a marvel: Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Could it all come crumbling down?
Carbon dioxide we pump into the air is seeping into the ocean and slowly acidifying it.
Support the Ocean
Help protect the last healthy, undisturbed places in the ocean so we can learn how to help healthy reefs thrive, help unhealthy reefs recover, and better preserve the ocean.
Explore the Ocean
Order ocean books, DVDs, maps, and more from the National Geographic online store.
Explore the world's oceans, from their prehistoric beginnings to modern-day efforts to preserve their natural wonder.
Immerse yourself in the wonders of the deep through colorful maps, photos, and satellite images.
Engage, Conserve, Restore
The National Geographic Society’s freshwater initiative is a multi-year global effort to inspire and empower individuals and communities to conserve freshwater and preserve the extraordinary diversity of life that rivers, lakes, and wetlands sustain.