Last summer, 12 passionate teens from all over the world came together for ten days in Florida with Ocean Matters. They partnered with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and the Coral Restoration Foundation to learn about marine mammal conservation and the challenges that our oceans face. After gaining all scuba qualifications, they completed a coral restoration project in Key Largo during the expedition. They worked with media professionals to create this ocean advocacy film in the hope of inspiring people to make a difference and help save our oceans.

The ocean holds a special place in the hearts of many of these teens. One teen explained that the ocean has always been a part of them, and they feel free and peaceful when underwater. Another teen shared that swimming in the ocean introduces you to a whole new world that is so fragile and unique, and there is nothing like it. The ocean provides not only emotional connections but also important resources such as food and oxygen.

The ocean is home to many animals that we love, and it is providing habitat for animals that tourists love. The ocean provides so much of the air we breathe and takes away the air we don’t need to breathe. The phytoplankton in the ocean put in oxygen and take away carbon dioxide. Life originated in the ocean, and it’s almost ironic how life is turning on the ocean and destroying it.

The biggest threats to the ocean are pollution, plastic, climate change, and warming temperatures. Plastic in the ocean can be mistaken for food by many marine animals and can kill them. Climate change and warming temperatures contribute to many problems that marine life and ecosystems are going through today. Coral bleaching is a huge problem that impacts the whole environment through the fish that live there and all the animals that call it home.

These teens recognize the mistakes that humans have made and understand the urgency of the situation. One teen explained that if one species in the ocean goes extinct, then everything up the line goes extinct, and everything we take for granted on land starts to fall apart. They all agree that it’s time for action and for people to start making changes to their lifestyles.

The simplest thing people can do at the moment that doesn’t take a lot of energy is to focus on what they’re doing and what they’re throwing away. They can use cloth or carbon or paper bags instead of plastic bags and pick up trash they see on the road or on the sidewalks they travel every day. Educating other people and taking part in beach cleanups are also important. Joining small groups in the community to help advocate for the change of the ocean is also effective.

These teens got hands-on experience in coral reef restoration and learned about reef-safe sunscreen, how to identify different corals, and how to collect data for Clearwater Marine Aquarium for populations of pan fish and pig fish. They planted coral into a reef, and it was the last of 290 Elkhorn coral that had to go on this reef. They got to finish the reef for the year.

These teens were impacted by their experience scuba diving in the ocean. They saw all the coral and fishes, and they were amazed at how colorful and different it was in person. One teen explained that it made them fall in love with the ocean, actually being able to see all the ocean life come to life.

In conclusion, the ocean needs to be saved. These teens are rising on behalf of healthy seas in places as diverse as Honduras, Hawaii, and Florida. The problems facing our ocean might seem daunting, but we know how to solve them! All we need is the will. These teens show us how. We can push for changes and more sustainable efforts so that we can have a better world and an existing world for future generations.

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