As summer approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, there are undoubtedly many beach days on the horizon, each of which are sure to be spent basking under the sun and splashing around in the ocean. So basically, early June is the perfect time to honor our oceans with a holiday like World Oceans Day. But what is World Oceans Day exactly? This annual holiday aims to remind people all around the world of how important it is to protect our major oceans.
Here’s everything you need to know about the United Nations-hosted holiday, including facts about World Oceans Day, this year’s theme, activities you can do to celebrate, and more.
What is World Oceans Day? Aka World Ocean Day, the holiday is on June 8 — here are some facts about the holiday's history.
World Oceans Day falls on June 8 every year, and this year, the holiday is on Thursday, June 8, 2023. The holiday is hosted by the “Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations,” and supported by nonprofit Oceanic Global.
According to the UN, the holiday’s mission is “to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world's oceans.”
June 8 is also observed as World Ocean Day (that’s a singular “ocean”). According to the World Ocean Day organization’s website, the holiday was originally proposed as World Ocean Day by Canada back in 1992, at the Rio Earth Summit. The organization the Ocean Project began organizing the holiday in 2002, and it was celebrated independently every year through 2008.
In December 2008, the United Nations General Assembly formally recognized the holiday, and added the “s,” officially declaring every June 8 as World Oceans Day. In 2021, the World Ocean Day organization decided to remove the “s” from its promotion of the holiday, restoring its original name, in an effort to remind people that “one world ocean connects us all!”
So basically, you can refer to the holiday with either an “s” or without one — as long as you are referring to the holiday at all!
The World Oceans Day 2023 theme is all about taking action.
The theme for World Oceans Day 2023 is "Planet Ocean: tides are changing," according to the UN. The theme sets out to "highlight how desperately we need to restore our world’s oceans, and to encourage people to get involved with taking action for the oceans, the climate, and more."
World Ocean Day activities — how to watch the official event and speeches:
The UN is hosting a hybrid World Oceans Day event at the UN Headquarters in New York, which will be broadcast live online for anyone who’d like to participate. The broadcast begins at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, June 8, and concludes at 1:30 p.m. ET.
The livestream will feature speakers including UN Secretary-General António Guterres, actors Jason Momoa and Lucas Bravo (of Emily in Paris), marine biologists Sylvia Earle and Diva Amon, as well as a multi-sensory performance from Whaia.
You can RSVP to the livestream here.
As for other activities you can do on World Oceans Day, we highly recommend visiting the ocean, if you have the time and access this week! You can also watch documentaries about the ocean, such as Seaspiracy, A Plastic Ocean, and Mission Blue.
Additionally, there are a number of resources on the UN World Oceans Day website, which you can use to learn more about oceans with your children — there, you’ll find ocean-themed coloring pages, videos, podcasts, and more.
This article, originally published on June 6, 2022, has been updated to reflect the 2023 holiday.